Do we really need campaign signs on public space?

A few weeks ago I found myself in the familiar role of harvesting election signs after the by-election campaign. Again I could not help but note what a colossal waste of resources the placement of election signs on public spaces is. I have written on this before and I think it is time to bring it up again. Having municipalities ban signs on public spaces would benefit both political parties and the pubic in general. It is rare when a policy seems such a clear winner but I think councils need some more nudging on this.

There are a number of reasons why election signs should no longer be placed on public space.

They are ugly!


By the end of any campaign the number of signs piled on public spaces can be astounding and I really can’t think of anybody who likes looking at them massed like that. I have been in the USA for a couple elections and they make our sign placement look scattered in comparison but we are working hard to close that gap.

It is bad for the environment

I am not Mr. Environmentalist by any means but I do appreciate some common sense approaches to conservation. In a general election in Alberta alone there are tens of thousands of signs on public space throughout the province. While the occasional candidate may re-use signs, they are for the most part a one time use thing as the parties tend to change themes, slogans, colors and candidates.


I found the sign pictured above while picking up by-election signs. The sign clearly had been laying under the grass for over two and a half years. Signs on private space are taken care of by the homeowner if the campaign lapses in picking them up. Public space signs often end up vandalized, blown away and forgotten by campaign teams.

Public space signs don’t work!

The only real reason campaigns insist on placing signs on public space is that they don’t want to be perceived as lagging behind any competitors. If the signs were only on private space it would have no negative impact on any campaign.

millingIMG626The Alberta Party dedicated almost everything they had to their campaign in Calgary Elbow. To keep this from being too evident, they did spend a small fortune and some time on putting out massive amounts of public space signs in the other constituencies.

While Mr. Millington is a decent fellow and while the Alberta Party got a surprising amount of press during the campaign, Troy Millington got a paltry 2.4% of the vote in Calgary West despite the constituency being blanketed by signs small and large.

Public space signs are no substitute for a real campaign. If they were to have any impact at all, the hundreds of them placed out for Mr. Millington would have brought his showing at least beyond an average polling margin of error.

Removing public space signs will improve campaigns!

Election signs do serve a purpose in bringing about relatively cheap name recognition and when on private lawns can lend a strong effect of momentums as people see where their neighbors appear to be landing on the electoral map. While election signs on public land turn into white noise in the eyes of the voter, signs on private lawns have a real influence on the election.

If the only option for sign placement was on private land campaigns would bring their battle for voters to where it really belongs, to the doorsteps. Campaigns that want signs will have to approach voters directly and engage them. While any real campaign already knows this, a ban on public signs will force campaigns to focus even further on knocking on doors which is better for any campaign.

Resources will be saved as well. Volunteers who used to have to constantly place, repair and maintain public space signs can now be dedicated to something more productive while the thousands previously spent on public space signs can be spent on better things as well (volunteer beer and such).

Campaigns can irritate people and the waste can be astounding with signs everywhere while literature overloads everybody’s mailboxes for over a month. We could simply change this by having municipalities banning public space signs if we could just coax them to put that on the table. I just cant see a downside here.

Ideology is the real issue.

Naheed Nenshi and peacock

April was an exceptional month of faux-outrage, hyperbole and a fabricated political controversy spurred on by none other than His Worship Mayor Naheed Nenshi himself. A grainy recording of a speech by a Cal Wenzel (founder of Shane Homes) in front of 150 attendees of an industry meeting (hardly a hidden conspiratorial group) was released to the media some months after the fact. In the secret recording, it was revealed that Wenzel did not like the direction that some members of council were going in and was encouraging others to use legal political means to try and facilitate the election of council members who have a more favorable outlook on the home development industry. There really was utterly nothing wrong with this and special interest groups have been participating in elections since the very beginning of elections.

This whole episode was really a non-issue until Mayor Nenshi spotted and took advantage of the opportunity to try and create local outrage against a well respected and established business in Calgary in hopes of polarizing the electorate in His Worship’s own favor. If nothing else, Nenshi has proven himself to be a canny political player if not a principled one. Nenshi even puffed up and scheduled a press conference where he reported that utterly nothing had changed aside from his remaining outraged that people in Calgary may hold a view differing from His. It was a striking spectacle indeed to watch our Mayor create such a fuss over so little.

An ongoing irritation over the course of this conceived dustup was the abuse of the word “partisan”. The Manning Institute was dragged into the whole affair as Wenzel had spoken of developers and homebuilders contributing to the institute to aid in the training of candidates. The manufactured indignation was repellent as “partisanship” was decried by our Mayor and his legion of hipsters supporting him on social media.

To begin with, there are no parties in civic politics in Alberta. While the word can be used in broad definitions, it really is not appropriate when speaking of Calgary civic candidates or interest groups. What we have happening in Calgary civic politics is a clash of ideologies which while more subtle, is far more concerning than partisanship will ever be.

To begin with, partisanship is not all that bad a thing and naturally evolves in every democracy whether people like it or not. While parties are usually founded and and run based on ideologies, the parties and party supporters themselves are often pragmatic and capable of changing their policies and ideologies when needed in order to represent the wishes of the electorate. Another advantage of parties is that the policies are usually documented and open as well as the formulation process of them.

The Alberta Party was built by Chima Nkemdirim (Naheed Nenshi’s Chief of Staff) to be a post-partisan party. What that contradiction meant was that the party would mask all forms of coherent policy through fluffy, broad and feelgood platitudes in hopes of masking the left-wing ideology of it’s supporters. It was recognized that Albertans soundly reject hard left wing policies at the polls so this consensus style party was created to try and slide their ideology past the electorate. With Nenshi’s unexpected win as Calgary’s Mayor, the Alberta Party lost the leader expected to take them to the 2012 election and Nkemdirim fled along with Nenshi into City Hall. By masking their partisanship and in having no real leadership, the Alberta Party fizzled to a dismal 1.3% finish in the 2012 Alberta provincial election. The voters were not fooled. Real partisanship has a role and the electorate demands it.

Part of why Nenshi has been decrying a non-existent partisanship within the Manning Insitute has been to mask the hypocrisy in his being a founder of and supported by CivicCamp which is an ideological special interest group that is trying to influence the Calgarian civil political government exactly as the Manning Institute is. Both groups are exactly the same in their basic nature, the only difference is a wide gap in the ideologies.

The Manning Institute is at least honest in their ideology. They say outright that they want to encourage and facilitate conservative policy in municipal politics. There is utterly nothing wrong with that.

CivicCamp on the other hand is very disingenuous in their goals. While they spit out the term “partisan” as a pejorative and try to paint themselves as being a democratic service in municipal politics, they are very clearly ideologically driven with some pretty distinct goals. CivicCamp takes strong and direct stands on policy initiatives such as the ideologically extreme PlanIt document which was spawned from the outright insane ImagineCalgary pap. If you are going to take direct policy stands as a group, you have moved well out of the public service role and right into ideologically driven advocacy. Again there is nothing wrong with this but CivicCamp should be more honest about what they are. Reading through the site quickly indicates the hard-left lean of the group.

CivicCamp carefully tries to avoid mention of the names of the people involved with them as well. One can hide the policies of the group but it is hard to hide the intent when the names of the founders can be seen. Just as the name Manning makes it clear that the Manning Institute is a conservative leaning group, the heavy involvement of occupy Calgary organizer and extreme left-wing activist Grant Neufeld in CivicCamp gives a strong indication of just how far out there the group’s ideology really is. Calling Neufeld a left-wing extremist is hardly an exaggeration when you consider that the guy wants to actually ban air-travel and compared people who use flight to travel to murderers. The hyperpartisan Green candidate for Calgary Centre (Chris Turner) is heavily involved with CivicCamp which is rather telling of the group’s nature as well.

Naheed Nenshi and his followers are ideologues and the clash that is happening in Calgary is ideological rather than partisan despite Nenshi’s attempts to deflect from that. There is an ideology that is heavily stuck on environmentalism, big intrusive government and massive increases of city density and it is pretty clear that Nenshi and some other council members are strong adherents to this ideology. This is not shadowy conspiracy, it is right in the open if people want to look at it. Nenshi helped build ImagineCalgary and the agenda is more than clear in that document. Hiring density zealots such as Rollin Stanley is among the least of the things Nenshi wants to do. Look at how fervently he wants broad municipal powers granted in a City Charter and to increase the taxation reach of the city. Nenshi needs these things if he hopes to meet the goals in ImagineCalgary.

Ideologues are inflexible and linear in the pursuit of their goals. They do not care about collateral damage on the way to what they see as an end and will stop at little to get there. Ideologues tend to be thin skinned when it comes to any critique of their agenda as was seen in Nenshi’s now legendary tantrum with a local developer.

Like it or not, we need parties and the partisanship that comes along with them. We need ideals and idealists too to set goals and broad agendas. Let’s call things what they are though and not try to hide agendas.

The only thing more troubling than an ideologue is one who is trying to hide their nature. Deflecting and pointing at the ideology of others while hypocritically pursuing one’s own ideology is hardly productive.

Among the buzzwords that have been so overused such as “vibrant” and “sustainable”  is the word “transparency”. Despite that word being used so much by our Mayor, we have more in-camera council meetings than ever and the top man seems to be anything but transparent in his ideology. That is unfortunate as the ideology is what it really is all about in the end.


Can we legislate against cheesy campaign songs????? Campaign planners, just say no!

OK what do all of the songs below have in common?

Well for one, they are all Alberta political campaign songs, they all have likely had utterly no impact in encouraging people to vote for their person/party and they all make me want to stab myself in the ear with a pencil.

 I understand that the production of these songs was likely fun and they helped in some small way to bond existing supporters. Come on though, they typically sound as low-budget as they indeed are and only really serve to irritate.

 It took talent and work to create these songs and I can appreciate that. At this time though, I think that talent and effort may better be utilized on doorsteps than in low budget recording scenarios.

 When it comes to these songs too, it should be kept in mind that musical genre crosses political lines. I understand that many in Alberta love country music. While I am a born and bred Albertan, I despise country music. I have tried to learn to like it but alas like brussels sprouts I just can’t make myself enjoy that stuff. I would rather listen to a choir composed of Helen Keller clones trying to sing Handel’s Messiah than listen to country music. Does that mean that Wildrose or other parties should then model campaign songs playing classic rock to appeal to folks like me? No! Then the country crowd won’t want to listen. Just stick to platforms.

 Not the end of the world I guess. Many people are complaining about being called too much, too many flyers in their mail and too many ads. Well I want to complain about the rotten songs composed and recorded during campaigns.

 Should you want to torture yourself, by all means listen to the songs below. I won’t try to rate which one is less bad than another. I will post more as they surface if they do. With any luck these will be all I find. 😉

Whose money is it?

 I will begin by saying I am not terribly enthusiastic with the latest Wildrose Party campaign pledge which is to cut a dividend cheque back to Albertans from future surplus funds. This concept has potential to become terribly inefficient and complicated and I could foresee the administration costs of this alone eating up a great deal of the funds being given back to Albertans. I much rather would see a more efficient and simple cut to the rate of our income tax with any future surplus funds being dedicated to a fund that could generate revenues thus leading to even more tax reductions.

 That all being said, what I fully agree with in principle is getting those dollars back into the pockets of Albertans even if I don’t feel that the Wildrose picked the most efficient way to do so. Government is way too big and encompassing as it is and getting money back to citizens where it belongs is always a good idea.

 Now there is a class of folks who really do not think much of Albertans at large out there. These people feel that we are a province populated by hicks and uncultured folks who really need a big nanny government to guide and direct us in all of our actions and expenditures. We have seen this in the actions of Nanny Redford as the bulk of her legislation has been dedicated towards further controlling the actions of Albertans whether it is in educational choice, healthy living or even control of the disposition of our property. We are not to be trusted with those responsibilities and they really should be taken out of our collectively incompetent hands and put into the wise guidance of a large intrusive government for our own good.

 What has been interesting lately though has been how open this attitude has been getting. Redford came right out and said that she wants to change the very character of Albertans. Nanny Redford truly feels that it is her right and responsibility as Premier to adjust the character of Albertans to whatever her personal vision for us is to be.

Parties even farther to the left such as the NDP and Alberta Party are of course even more inclined to have big-government control all of our actions as individuals thus their minuscule support in a province like Alberta which is populated by individualists.

 Now I do have to thank Alberta Party representative Chris McClure for encapsulating the patronizing attitude held by the big government set in two tweets.

 First Chris said:           “yeah, give the masses back more money to waste, rather than using it to make healthcare and education better. Dumb policy”

 Yes, to these people Alberta citizens are simply “the masses” who are assumed to waste any money that may end up in their hands as opposed to being taken by government. We simply cannot be trusted to have our own money. Now there are two assumptions being made here by Chris. One is wrong and the other is simply offensive. Chris’s assumption that government will always spend excess dollars to improve healthcare and education for Albertans is simplistic and outright wrong. The offensive assumption is that Albertans will simply waste money if allowed to keep it themselves.

 Next in response Chris goes even further with: “if people could spend money wisely, personal debt issues would not be an issue. Expect most people to go buy a new tv”

 Yes, Chris feels if only government were big enough we all would not have personal debt issues. Perhaps we could ban borrowing? Who knows. Chris has made it clear that if we are allowed to have OUR OWN MONEY in our pockets we will simply waste it on unimportant items.

 Now who the hell are you to determine what is unimportant to individuals anyway Chris? It is our money. If we want to give it to charity or blow it on magic beans, it really is none of your damned business.

 Control is what it is all about people. That is why folks like Chris and his Alberta Party and Redford with her Progressive party try to assume more and more control of our lives and why they are terrified of empowering things such as personal choice, property and wealth.

 Again, I may not fully agree with the release by Wildrose Party I most strongly agree with the principle that it represents in that we as Albertans know how best to spend OUR  money.

 It appears so far that only the Wildrose Party is showing the respect  we deserve in working towards further empowering Alberta citizens and working towards the smaller more accountable government that we need and deserve.

 The “beer and popcorn” patronism fell flat when the federal Liberals used it and it will not win the hearts of Albertans as Liberals within the PC and Alberta Party use it either.

It is not hard to cast a ballot if you care.

 Yesterday’s federal NDP leadership convention was little less than a gong-show. The accusations are still flying over what caused the delays and disruptions to the online voting process. Whether it was an outside attack on the online system or whether the system was simply overwhelmed, the result is a loss of credibility on the party as a whole and questions will be forever asked rightly or wrongly wondering about the validity of Mulcair’s win. Quite a high price for a party to pay in the mad and premature rush to move to online voting systems.

The excuses that people make for not voting are endless as are the theories on how to get people engaged. I covered that in a posting here years ago. Personally, I think the reason that the vast majority of people don’t vote is that we are simply in a spoiled first world society that does not want to distract itself with paying attention to politics much less participate in them. The apathy is simply a form of intellectual sloth that only hard times will change.

Declining turnouts are a concern no matter what the reasoning is. Some folks have taken to trying to address the most lazy of excuses in not voting through making casting a ballot even easier than it already is. Online and telephone voting mean that a person does not even need to leave their house in order to vote. Vote casting periods can be extended as well so a person need not even set aside a certain day to spend a minute to vote. So how is that working?

 The federal NDP members had weeks to vote in the first ballot. Barely 50% of MEMBERS bothered to take the literal minute it would take to cast their vote. We are not even talking the general electorate here folks, we are speaking of members of a party.

 Closer to home, the small social media based Alberta Party held a leadership race last year. If twitter alone were an indicator, the Alberta Party would be a contender for the Premier’s office as their membership is indeed very active in social media despite being invisible on the ground. With such an internet engaged membership base one would think that this party would have a great turnout through phone and internet voting. Again barely 1/2 of the members took the minute required to select a candidate.

 The Wildrose Party did mail in ballots and got a much higher turnout in their leadership race than the aforementioned two parties. The Progressive Conservatives did better as well with balloting stations set up around the province. Why do more people actually bother to vote when it actually is more trouble to vote that way? It takes more time and effort to seal an envelope and find a mailbox and even more to set aside a narrow period to take yourself to a dedicated polling station than it would to log in online and vote. Despite that, the more troublesome methods of voting are pulling better turnouts than the easier means.

 I think part of it is that people used the ease of voting as a selling point when pushing memberships. People who claimed it was too tough to get around to voting found it hard to use that excuse when a dedicated partisan was trying to sell them a membership and pointing out that the person could vote online or by phone. These people bought the membership to get a salesperson off their back and in reality they simply did not care. When the window of weeks opened up with they could take a minute to vote they simply did not bother despite GOTV efforts.

 There is a video out there poking some fun at the well meaning by naive Alberta Party goal of targeting people who typically don’t vote. It is pretty blunt but pretty much hits the nail on the head.


 The bottom line is that a growing number of people simply don’t give a crap and don’t want to bother themselves with voting no matter how easy it may be.

I am not saying for a second that we should simply give up on addressing this growing disengagement. This is a very real problem in the evolution of our society and taking democracy for granted is never a good thing.

What I am saying though is that the difficulty of getting out to vote is not the problem. If people care, they will vote. Perhaps new online systems will indeed one day be superior to the old ballot box method. I can see many advantages in it with the efficiencies it could bring. The technology is not here yet though and if one thinks it will help improve voter engagement they are simply mistaken.

 Get out in election campaigns and try to get people engaged. That is a worthy effort no matter what your political stripe is. If the person you are working on claims it is too tough to vote though, I strongly suggest that you quit wasting time with them and move on to somebody else. Those people will not vote if you show up on their doorstep and put the pen and ballot in their hands. They simply don’t care.


You can’t have a center without a left and a right.

 There has been a trend lately by some to try and paint the tried and true political spectrum of left/right as being outdated or irrelevant. Much of this attitude is of course coming from some with political interests who are trying to find some mythical middle ground that will appeal to a vast majority of voters. Today the CBC released a poll that concludes that: “Ideology is not guiding Alberta voters.”.  That conclusion is simply wrong. Ideology guides all voters to varying degrees. The only thing concluded is that people no longer self-identify as much with their place on the political spectrum. If a person does not consider themselves to be on the right or the left in political thought, it does not mean that their personal philosophy does not land to the left or the right. This if anything is more an indication of the growing political apathy and indifference. People don’t put time or thought into ideology even if they unconsciously follow one.

 The left/right spectrum is a simple measure and does not cover everything. Very few people fall fully on one side or the other in every regard. To do so is the mark of a fanatic actually.

 Most issues will have responses that clearly can be considered to be either on the right or left side of the spectrum. Just because some people land on different sides at different times, it does not mean that the spectrum is not valid or that it does not exist.

 The right/left measure of ideology is a broad measure and is of use when looking at groups such as political parties. While a party may have indeed have policies landing on both sides of the spectrum, it is their general slant that truly identifies the party as a whole and again the left/right measure is the most basic yet indicative and important of measures for this. A voter has to make their choice based on the broad ideology of the party rather than one policy at a time.

 Here is a note by the way, an almost fanatical pursuit of a mythical “center” is an ideology in itself.

 Can it be denied that Alberta’s NDP is on the left or the Wildrose is on the right? Sherman’s Liberals just released a platform calling for increasing taxes on those they perceive to be “rich” and Redford’s PCs just released another big-spending budget which drifts both parties to the left.

 While some try to cloak their leanings in claiming a center ground and putting out vague and inconclusive policies, their roots always show clearly in the end. Twitter is a great way to see the true leanings of groups and individuals. What you do is watch the tweeters and see which side of the spectrum they pejoratively spit about when annoyed. When a large group of people is prone to bitterly spitting out “right wing” and “right wingers” when somebody has a policy they don’t like, you have just been able to accurately place them on the spectrum even if they did not want to be placed there. In Alberta we have the Kitten & Rainbow party that tries it’s darndest to hide their place on the spectrum. In their being led by a former NDP candidate and in their supporters online loathing of the nasty “right wing”  they expose themselves.

 If the electorate truly was free and clear of ideology they would have rushed to embrace the Alberta Party that furiously is trying to claim the center. Alas, the disingenuous stance of this is transparent to voters and is reflected in the Alberta Party sitting at 2% in the polls despite years of claiming center ground. People may not self-identify much in ideology, but clearly they chose sides when it comes to parties.

 Recognizing and understanding left/right positions is important when consuming data from think tanks too. If one doesn’t recognize the Fraser Institute as right or Parkland Institute as left, then you will not be able to take that grain of salt when looking at their statements and studies.

 Left and right are indeed only two sides of a complex equation but they are still valid general measures. To broaden things into a four way measure, Political Compass brings authoritarian and libertarian into the mix. Left and right are still rather essential of course. While the quiz is not perfect or all encompassing by any means, it is fun and does give an interesting measure of where one lands on the spectrum.

Give it a try and see where you land in comparison with the political leaders on the chart below.

Now below we see where I land. Looks like a dead-zone when compared to existing and past political leaders. This may indeed explain much about my history of personal political success 😉 Either way my ideological place is distinct if in a minority and there is utterly nothing wrong with measuring it and thinking about it.

 A person should not pidgeonhole themselves within one side or another of the spectrum. That closes thought and is indeed the route to extremism whether left or right. Most people have thoughts that land all over the place. The center is a moving target. There is no sense fighting to find it. Choose your place issue by issue. It will be found by most that trends emerge and one isn’t as close to the center as they imagined they were.

 Left and right don’t measure it all but they exist as sides on issues and are valid. They are not going away and we should quit pretending that they are.

You have to earn your way to the big kids table.

Every election we see the same thing, the fringe parties and their exiguous but dedicated and vocal supporters begin making noise and demanding that their party be represented in the televised debates. It is understandable why these fringe groups want to participate. Many people remain undecided until the debate and use that broadcast as almost their sole means of making up their mind as they have an opportunity to see the leaders of the main parties demonstrate their ability (or lack of) to lead our province. It is because of this importance of the debates that a bar must be set though and we can’t have an important event like this cluttered with the leader of every tiny party in the province participating.

 In 2004 it was the Alberta Alliance (now Wildrose) that was protesting and making noise demanding that Randy Thorsteinson be included in the debate. They even had some people waving signs outside of a TV station but to no avail. The broadcasters had set the bar by saying that a party needed an elected member in the legislature in order to participate in the debate. The Alberta Alliance had Edmonton MLA Gary Masyk who had recently crossed the floor to join the Alberta Alliance. The powers that be decided this was not good enough as Masyk had not been elected under the banner of the Alberta Alliance.

The Alberta Alliance was running candidates in all 83 constituencies in that election as well. That still was not enough to sway the broadcasters and the debate was held with only the PC, NDP and Liberal leaders in that election. Fair enough.

 Now we come to the latest vocal complainants; the Alberta Party. While their presence on twitter is notable due to them having a handful of prolific posters in their ranks, their impact or even recognition among the Alberta electorate is simply insignificant. The fringe Alberta Party barely registers 1% in Alberta polls, has no member elected under their banner in the legislature, will be lucky to nominate even 30 candidates in the election and as far as can be seen is totally broke. Why on earth should their leader be allowed to take up 20% of the time at the very important debate?

 The Alberta Party scored a tiny coup when embittered former Liberal MLA Dave Taylor broke his promise to sit as an independent and crossed the floor to join them. Taylor never got over the Liberal Party’s rejection of him when he ran for the leadership and joining the Alberta Party was his final way of giving the finger to the party that got him elected in the first place. It must be noted, Taylor does not have the gumption or courage to actually run under the Alberta Party banner. He will be taking off with his severance package as soon as the writ drops presumably to try and find another job in broadcasting. At least Masyk was willing to run for the Alberta Alliance after he crossed the floor.

 It is pretty clearly established which parties are worth broadcasting to the province in a debate in the coming election. The PCs, Liberals, NDP and Wildrose parties all have members sitting in the legislature that were elected under their own party banner. They are all polling well above the statistical margin of error (no other parties are) and all are clearly in positions to be winning some seats at the least. Aside from the Liberals, all of them will be running significant numbers of candidates in the election. It will be important and interesting to see the leaders of these parties debate. That will not happen if every crackpot leader from the rest of the fringe parties takes part however.

A party can work it’s way from fringe status. What the Alberta Party supporters appear to overlook is that to do so takes years of very hard work. Paul Hinman was tireless as the leader of the Alberta Alliance party as well as many key supporters within the party. With countless meetings across the province, many policy revisions, news events and releases, recruitment of new and strong people and a receptive attitude to mergers and compromise, the party broke free from it’s fringe status and is the contender that we call the Wildrose today.

 Essentially what I am saying to the parties at the fringe is if we could do it (get mainstream sized support), you can do it. Until then though, you simply don’t rank a seat at the debates.

 Social media does provide for alternatives though. A community hall could be booked and a cage match debate could be held with the leaders of the Social Credit, Communist, Alberta, Evergreen and Separation parties that all want seats in the main debate. This circus could be live streamed and archived on YouTube. It could provide some welcome comic relief in what will doubtless be generally a serious election.

 The word that springs to mind when I see fanatical fringe party supporters demanding things is “entitlement”. Face it guys, private broadcasters owe you nothing nor should they. Quit complaining and put your nose to the grindstone. Complaining will never break you free from fringe status but hard work might.


The continued collapse of Alberta’s “progressives”.

 While Alberta’s Liberal party still will not shed itself of it’s name (which equates to poison), individual left-wingers in Alberta have tried to cloak themselves by using the term “progressive” rather than Liberal. The vast majority of Albertans do not support left-wing movements however and it has been a rather dark comedy observing “progressives” ripping themselves apart in trying to hide from this reality.

 Eddie Stelmach is continuing to represent the “progressive” part of the Progressive Conservative Party through his continued top-down governance style and out of control spending. The recent flip-flop on teacher salaries and his questioning of the bonuses given to the people that he appointed himself prove a level of incompetence that only a progressive can achieve.

 On the Liberal front, a desperate David Swann issued an open letter begging for other “progressive” movements to join them so that they may possibly retain their status of official opposition in the next general election (the PCs will likely fill that role). Brian (irrelevant) Mason was quick to dismiss Swann’s plea as he is more than happy to keep his party in the two to three seat position that it enjoys. Mason likes being a big fish in a small pond and he will remain there.

 During the Stampede Parade an incident occurred that could not have been better scripted in the symbolism that it represented. An antique car was acquired and Swann along with his dwindling caucus tried to ride in the parade.

 The car broke down and they had to push it.

 Wow. The provincial Liberals forlornly pushing an outdated machine in front of tens of thousands of Albertans who are indifferent to them.

 Another group that dissed Swann’s love letter was the Alberta Party. For those not aware, the Alberta Party is a fringe political party that was taken over by a group of “progressives” who felt that the Liberals and NDP were not serving the needs of that minority of left-wing citizens of Alberta. These progressives rationed that the small pool should be split into wading ponds.

 This group of homeless progressives failed dismally in getting a few thousand signatures in order to form a fresh party so they took the route of taking over a small but existing party.

 The newly anointed leader of the Alberta Party is Edwin Erickson. Some may remember him from when he participated in the takeover of the Alberta Green Party which he subsequently destroyed.

 In light of recent events, it looks like Erickson is taking the skills he learned in dividing the Alberta Green Party and applying them to destroying the fledgling Alberta Party. Below are some transcripts from  Alberta Hansard where the Alberta Party presented to a legislative committee.

The Chair: I would ask that the Alberta Party take their chairs at the
end of the table, please. I’ll ask you to introduce yourselves, please.

Mr. Erickson: I’m Edwin Erickson, the leader of the Alberta Party.
I have an official statement to make from the party.

The Chair: And the other member, please?

Mr. Whyte: My name is Bob Whyte. I’m one of the Edmonton
region elected representatives. I’m perhaps the first person for this
party to register to make a presentation today. My presentation will
be very brief.

 Ok so here we have Edwin Erickson the apparent leader of the party and Bob Whyte a board member of the party each approaching the committee. Whyte felt he had to point out that he was the first person to register for this presentation. The reason for this comes below:

Mr. Erickson: I will make the official statement from the party.
Any other statement is not an official representation of the party and
is certainly not part of our mandate for being here.

 OK, so Erickson has to make it clear that he is the only one who can speak for the party. Elected board members may not do so and will not be considered part of the mandate or official.

 Quite the disclaimer. Rather ironic considering the Alberta Party is still wrapped in their idealistic and delusional “big listen” and that they are trying to come from some sort of high position in supporting democratic rights and free speech.

Mr. Erickson: Thank you. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee,
ladies and gentlemen, it’s my pleasure to speak to the committee
on behalf of the Alberta Party. I will take this opportunity to give
you a brief description of our party for your information, followed
by the Alberta Party’s recommendations to the committee.
The revitalized Alberta Party has suspended all its former policies
and on March 4 of this year embarked on a program to reach out to
Albertans through its Big Listen project. The intention of the Big
Listen project is to engage a wide cross-section of Albertans in the
process of creating party policy, with the first fruits of that labour to
be realized at our policy convention in November of this year. The
Big Listen project is born of the Alberta Party’s core belief in
exercising accountability, transparency, and collaboration with
members of the Alberta Party, with participants of the Big Listen,
and with all Albertans.
Although some initial thoughts on potential positive changes in
accountability for funding of leadership campaigns have been items
of discussion within the board of directors and executive of the
Alberta Party, it must be stressed that our party has not yet completed
the first decisive phase of the Big Listen program. Because
that process has not yet been fulfilled, we are not prepared to make
specific recommendations to the committee at this time.
However, we would like to make it known for the record that the
Alberta Party does definitely support in principle the concepts of
funding limitation,accountability,and transparency for all provincial
political parties when conducting partyleadership campaigns. In the
spirit of collaborative effort toward enhanced good government, as

July 8, 2010 Public Safety and Services PS-321

leader of the Alberta Party I extend the offer to work together with
the committee and all other political parties toward this common
goal.In closing, the Alberta Party wishes the committee success with
its endeavours to institute meaningful legislative or regulatory
reform applicable to all. Thank you for the opportunity. I’m
available for your questions.

 OK, so Erickson makes his big presentation which essentially is a plug for their party with no substance. Nothing new there.

 Now it gets more fun:

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Erickson.
I’ll open the floor to Mr. Whyte for some comments.

Mr. Whyte: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the
committee, for upholding my registration to speak here today. Very
briefly, I support the representations that were made in writing by
Mr. Robert Leddy, who is present today and who is a former interim
leader of our party.
I query one of the important statements made by the gentleman
who spoke before who stated, “The revitalized Alberta Party has
suspended all its former policies.” The query is because those
policies which have been adopted by the general membership of the
province continue until they are changed by the general membership
of the province. I think it is suitable to make a representation that a
board of directors cannot discharge the decisions of the general
membership. A board of directors needs to act within the mandate
that has been given to them, and it is on that point that I wanted to
speak here today. I felt if I remained silent, then I would be giving
consent by silence to this statement.
Thank you.

 Whyte has to begin by thanking the Chair for upholding his registration. Clearly Erickson and others in the Alberta Party tried to shut down Whyte’s right to speak to their committee. Thankfully  reason prevailed, Bob Whyte was allowed to speak and we can enjoy this comical event.

 Whyte is rightly mentioning that in their takeover of the Alberta Party, the rights of the existing members were completely ignored. The party constitution was completely trampled on too. How progressive.

 No wonder Erickson wanted Whyte shut out.

The Chair: Thank you.
I’ll open the floor to questions, starting with Mr. Allred.

Mr. Allred: Thanks, Mr. Chair. Mr. Whyte, in your reference to the
former policies of the party, was there any policy that dealt specifically
with this issue of disclosure of leadership campaign funding,
et cetera?

Mr. Whyte: To the best of my knowledge there was not. A lot of
work has been done on it, but it has not received the final imprimatur
of the board of directors.

Mr. Allred: So there never was a policy with regard to disclosure of
leadership campaign funding.

Mr. Whyte: To the best of my knowledge. There is a desire for
transparency and so on, but to the best of my knowledge there is no
exact provision on this.

Mr. Allred: So with regard to this particular issue, then, I would
presume that you and the leader are in concurrence.

Mr. Whyte: Generally speaking, yes.

Mr. Allred: Thank you.

The Chair: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Allred.

 OK, so through questions it is determined that the original Alberta Party never had any policies with regards to leadership donors.

Mr. MacDonald: Yes. Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Erickson, you
were present for the submissions made by the Conservative Party, by
Ms Notley from the New Democrats. Do you generally agree?
Certainly, the Alberta Liberals have been the leaders here. We have
had full and open disclosure for some time. The statements made by Ms
Notley and certainly the statements made by Mr. Smith that they,
too, would like to see an open, transparent disclosure process not
only for donations but also for expenses to leadership campaigns –
you’re the leader of the Alberta Party. What would you like to see

Mr. Erickson: Well, I think my statement that I made saying that
we support in principle the concepts of limited funding, accountability,
and transparency for all political parties pretty well tells you that
we concur with that notion.

Mr. MacDonald: Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Macdonald.
The next question by Ms Calahasen.

Ms Calahasen: I understand that you both agree. According to the
concepts that you’ve been working with on the funding limitation
and accountability, both of you agree that there should be an
accountable measure to be able to deal with financial situations for
leadership races. Is that in fact true?

Mr. Erickson: Yes, that’s the general . . .


Ms Calahasen: Okay. Knowing that – and I understand that you
have not completed the Big Listen, as you call it – are there any
policies or anything that would guide this party to look at public
disclosure from a context of reporting, and what would your
thoughts be as to who should govern the management of such a

Mr. Erickson: I’m sorry that I can’t give you any indication in that
direction because of the fact that our process is incomplete. I’m here
today to fortify the concept that we do want increased accountability,
transparency, and fundraising limitation for leadership races.
Unfortunately, I can’t expound on that very much. I’m here to show
my party’s support to the concept.

Ms Calahasen: So if the party is in support of the concept and if our
process is finished before your process is finished, you would live
with whatever we come forward with in recommendations?

Mr. Erickson: Absolutely.

Ms Calahasen: Thank you.

 OK, so Erickson has confirmed that the new Alberta Party has no stand or policy in regards to leadership funding and disclosure either.

In other words, they had nothing to say yet felt compelled to waste time and people’s tax-dollars in order to stand before a public committee and air their internal party dirty laundry.

 Wow, those progressives sure know how to make good public impressions. 

 The entire original document can be found here.

 I sort of wish that the Alberta Party could get a seat or two so we could laugh at their antics in every Hansard. Alas, it is clear that they will rip themselves apart from within long before they get even a single constituency association registered. There is no way this group of folks will get themselves into a position of electability.

 The bottom line in all of this is that a small group of people will simply not face the reality that Alberta is not left-wing and their stunts are getting increasingly pathetic on all fronts as they try to dodge this reality.

 Meanwhile, the Wildrose Alliance Party continues to soar along on the heels of a monumental AGM and packed fundraisers.

 The next election is going to be a fun one indeed.