Where has the time gone?

Can you believe that it has been over three years already?

Why, it feels like only yesterday that Naheed Nenshi had an epic social media temper tantrum when he found out that the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation had done a FOIP request to see if the Mayor had dumped his legal bills on the taxpayers.

You could almost hear Nenshi’s fingers indignantly hammering his keyboard in rage as he expressed his ire over having been questioned on this issue.

The twitter thread stems from this tweet back in June of 2014

 

Roger Kingkade did a fantastic dramatic reading of the exchange here.

Yes indeed. Three years already. That means that it has been nearly four years since Nenshi defamed Cal Wenzel on a radio show. That defamation led to Nenshi’s grovelling apology and a legal bill that was nearly $300,000.

That legal bill was dumped on Calgarian taxpayers and Nenshi still has not paid it back.

Yes, despite Nenshi’s petulant outbursts it appears that Canada’s most highly paid mayor (depending in the year) still dumped the fruit of his act of defamation upon innocent taxpayers.

Nenshi is claiming that the bill will be paid soon. Nenshi of course claimed so stridently that the bill would never been dumped on us so he holds little credibility in this regard. It now becomes a thing of, “I will believe it when I see it.”

I guess this could be part of why Nenshi got caught up in a scandalous $5,000 per plate pay to play fundraiser just weeks ago.

As a small business owner, I sure could use an interest free loan for a few hundred thousand to make some capital improvements. Alas, these sorts of benefits only apply to Mayors I guess.

As it has been years now, we should be reminded that it is an election year. In a few short months, Calgary voters can choose to elect a mayor who is less inclined to dump his legal fees upon them.

I sure hope that the voters lose their apathy and do so.

While the last 4 years went by quickly, a further 4 years of Nenshi would be agonizing.

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Conservatives don’t need a merger, they just need good leadership.

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If there is one thing that conservatives in Alberta have been lacking in the last 10 years it is good leadership. From bungling Stelmach, to corrupted Redford to the unholy alliance of Prentice/Smith that managed to put Notley on the Premier’s chair, conservatives have languished under a chain of piss poor partisan leaders.

With the events seen in the last week, it looks pretty clear that conservative Albertans are going to have to wait longer to see a good leader come out of the woodwork.

The “right” in Alberta is not so much split as it is floundering in trying to find a stable banner to gather underneath. If one of the right of center parties could manage to get an inspiring leader, merger dreams would end and the majority of right of center Albertans would migrate to that party. One would think that under the gross mismanagement of Notley that a strong opposition party would manage to get it together. Alas, so far there has been no luck.

Yes, Brian Jean stepped up to the plate and took the reigns of the Wildrose Party while it was still reeling under the effects of Danielle Smith’s self serving treachery. Yes, Brian has been stellar in handling the disastrous fire in Fort McMurray. Aside from that though, Jean really hasn’t gotten far in turning the Wildrose Party into a government in waiting.

As I ranted last week, the choice to insult a visiting Premier in the legislature was a terrible one that repelled many Albertans in its lack of tact and class. Those were the actions of a party that wants to oppose rather than build and that falls squarely on the leader’s lap. It should be noted that Brian Jean was one of the MLAs who petulantly refused to stand to respectfully greet the visiting Premier. He cant blame the fallout from those tasteless actions on rogue MLAs. They were acting under his leadership and direction.

Jean’s next foolish and reactive move was his bizarre late night suspension of Derek Fildebrandt over a social media faux-pas.

Derek Fildebrandt is no homophobe and anybody knowing him will say that confidently. Even the most left wing of opponents acknowledge that while Derek made a careless error in judgement, they know damn well that he would never support anti-gay views or rhetoric. Despite that fact and despite Derek’s near immediate apology for the mistake, Jean recklessly suspended Derek from caucus.

Brian Jean is still doggedly claiming that it was the social media error that was the cause of the suspension. That is clearly utter bullshit and Jean’s refusal to explain the real rational behind the suspension is yet another example of poor leadership.

Perhaps there is a good set of reasons for the suspension of Fildebrandt from caucus. Jean would be well placed to release and explain them then because right now his actions look petty and have infuriated the grassroots of the Wildrose Party. In light of the employment outcomes for all of the floor crossers from the Wildrose Party the other year, I think it goes without saying that antagonizing the grassroots of a conservative party is never a wise course of action.

Derek Fildebrandt is one of the rougher MLAs. He plays hardball and he can be prone to theatrics. That is actually a good thing when one considers that Brian Jean can be about as animated as a turnip (as anybody who watched the last election debate can attest to). A balanced caucus has people of a few different characters.

Was the reason for the suspension pure insecurity on the part of Jean? Does he feel that his position as leader is threatened? I don’t think Jean’s leadership was threatened before last week but it sure as hell is now as the grassroots party members become annoyed.

Was the reason for the suspension because Jean felt embarrassed at a gathering of his federal compatriots while statements such as the one below were written in the Globe and Mail?

Has Mr. Jean become so accustomed to being led around by the nose by Mr. Fildebrandt that he allowed this sorry spectacle to unfold? Why doesn’t Mr. Jean simply step aside now and allow Mr. Fildebrandt to ascend to the position he so clearly lusts after?

Pretty harsh words from an editorialist and I don’t think they were based on fact. I can see how it grated on Jean though and I can see how an insecure leader would lash out to try and prove himself in light of such critique.

I don’t know the full story here I suspect but I know what I see and that is a demonstration of terrible leadership when we need it so dearly on the conservative end of the spectrum in Alberta.

I hope Jean either learns to get it together soon or steps aside because we really cant afford another term under Notley.

A good first step would be admitting error and bringing Derek Fildebrandt back into caucus.

Under good leadership, such suspensions shouldn’t be needed.

 

 

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Unite the right? Not so fast!

dip

Let’s be clear. The Notley NDP were not elected due to Alberta having a divided right. As can be seen with the historical NDP support numbers in general elections, there is room to split things over five ways before risking the election an NDP government.

What happened in the 2015 election was the result of a collective revulsion on the part of the electorate over Danielle Smith’s treachery and Jim Prentice’s repugnant and flagrantly power hungry behaviour.

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The electorate was appalled when Jim Prentice lured Smith and her followers into a mass floor crossing that spat in the faces of thousands of their former supporters. Voter disgust only increased as Prentice manipulated nominations in his own party while breaking his own party’s law for fixed election dates is what was a clear power grab.

When given the opportunity, party members showed their ire as they tossed out floor crossers at nomination meetings despite the best efforts of Prentice and Navigator to protect them. The panicked protection of Bruce McAllister’s nomination after other nomination losses only served to infuriate members and voters further as we moved towards an election with no justification.

Former Wildrose opposition leader Danielle Smith delivers a speech after losing the PC nomination to Carrie Fischer for the Highwood riding in High River, Alta on Saturday, March 28, 2015. Smith crossed the floor with 8 other Wildrose MLAs, defecting to the PC party and leaving the Wildrose with 5 seats. There were a total of 942 ballots cast for the nomination, but the exact results were not disclosed.

Former Wildrose opposition leader Danielle Smith delivers a speech after losing the PC nomination to Carrie Fischer for the Highwood riding in High River, Alta on Saturday, March 28, 2015.

People were outright disgusted with the Progressive Conservative Party and it’s leadership as the 2015 election campaign began. The Wildrose Party was still reeling from the mass defection and adjusting to a brand new leader. The taint of Smith’s self-serving actions still hung on the Wildrose Party as well whether fair or not. The Liberal Party was in shambles and the Alberta Party was still essentially unheard of by the majority of the electorate.

Desperate voters migrated to what they saw as the only familiar and principled voice in the electoral lineup. Nobody was thinking of right or left as they migrated to Notley. What people wanted to see for a change was some honesty and principles no matter what side of the electoral spectrum those principles came from. The PC principle of power for the sake of power was roundly rejected. Notley won a majority by default and we are all paying for that situation today.

The reason I am going over this is that some people are trying to simplistically claim that it is nothing more than a split on the right that got the NDP into power in Alberta and that simply is not true. If efforts to build an alternative to the Notley government do not take these facts into account, we may indeed really be working towards putting the Notley NDP back into power for another term.

We hear columnists calling for uniting the right.

We have a MPs calling for uniting the right.

We have Brian Jean calling to unite the right.

We have an American style PAC gathering notable names and raising money to unite the right.

We have basement meetings chaired by former MLAs calling for uniting the right.

Despite all of these calls to unite the right, nobody has defined what this united right is supposed to look like or how it will be formed. Are talking about a merger of the Wildrose and the PC parties? Are we talking about forming yet another whole new party? Are we talking about rebranding the Wildrose?

All of the above are considerations but it is going to take some time and a lot of deliberation to determine what course is best. Rushing into things with so many questions hanging could lead to further splintering and alienating the electorate even more.

I don’t have solid answers but I can certainly see some things that are sure to fail.

For some sort of alternative to succeed it has to be created totally in the open!

Among the many things that repelled the electorate last year, the backroom negotiations and nature of the moves by Prentice and Smith were paramount. Nobody likes secret, self-serving deals and if the public gets even a whiff of such activities in any new efforts they will head for the door in droves. It is this issue that makes me hope that the new PAC starts becoming much more transparent in its funding sources and its goals or it may be quite counterproductive,. On the surface right now it looks like many of the same old players trying to recreate the PC party simply for the sake of getting back into power again. This may indeed not be the case at all but perception in politics is indeed reality and the perception had best be improving soon.

I attended an informal gathering of conservative minded folks hosted by Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt and PC MLA Mike Ellis last December. While nothing solid came from the meeting, I think it was very productive in that it got many stubborn partisans into the same room with the goal of examining where they have common ground. The complete transparency and informal nature of the gathering was of great appeal. It let us put our hackles down with no hard agenda and let many of us realize that we are closer together on things than we may think. While these sorts of gatherings don’t produce immediate, solid results, they help build the foundation we need. I hope that we see more of them. Again, patience is required here.

We need principles that run deeper than simply gaining power and raising money!

The Wildrose Party is celebrating record fundraising numbers and they should. Strong fundraising indicates a good grassroots support base. That being said, we saw rather clearly in the last election that spending alone does not win seats. The electorate doesn’t give two shits about which party or candidate raised or spent more money. They want to vote for somebody who shares common principles with them.

If the move towards an alternative can only define itself as existing for the sake of gaining power, we can rest assured that the movement will be rejected as well. The PC party in it’s last few years in government truly demonstrated that retaining power at all costs was it’s only mandate and Albertans got more than tired with that. We need something more.

We have to define just what the heck the “right” even is.

What is right? Is it just fiscal conservatism? Is it social conservatism? How much mix? While the Wildrose was being labelled as being anti-gay due to the odious “lake of fire” ravings of one of it’s former candidates, the PC Party infuriated the province with the pushing of Bill 10. So which of the parties is socially conservative and how?

PC MLA Sandra Jansen is demonstrating a social leftism which puts her on par with the NDP despite her flogging of Bill 10 only a little more than a year ago. This sort of demonstration of floating personal principles demonstrates exactly the kind of self-serving opportunism that we are all sick and tired of. Jathensen will clearly support anything if she thinks it will keep her seat. Is she right wing? Is she left wing? Does it matter? If parties somehow merged, would she really be able to share a caucus with Rick Strankman for example?

I don’t think we should see MLAs and candidates lining up and declaring themselves to be right or left and not budging based on ideological standing. If we are going to keep harping on “unite the right” though we had better settle on just what the “right” is.

The last PC budget was decidedly left wing while their social policies in the end were right wing.

I am socially very left and fiscally very right. I wont claim that Alberta has a libertarian majority but it is a significant element among voters. How will a united “right” capture that element of the electorate?

I am looking forward to seeing an alternative formed and growing to the Notley government whether it is something new or an evolution of one of the existing parties. We need to act carefully though and resist the temptation to rush here. As can be seen in the initial stats in this posting, the NDP is far from being the natural governing party of Alberta. An alternative to Notley does not need to be perfect in order to replace her government. The bar is rather low when looking at traditional NDP support in Alberta as a matter of fact.

Let’s take our time and give the NDP more rope. They will take care of much for us. We cant sit on our hands for the next 3-4 years but we don’t need to hatch a “united right” in the next few months either.

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