This is what defamation looks like.

Defamation — also calumny, vilification, and traducement — is the communication of a false statement that harms the reputation of an individual person, business, product, group, government, religion, or nation.[1]

Under common law, to constitute defamation, a claim must generally be false and must have been made to someone other than the person defamed

To cover my own butt, what I am writing on is still in the stages of being alleged and has yet to be proven in court.

Sworn affidavits from people close to the defendant are some pretty strong evidence though.

I wrote recently on how Druh Farrell refused to recuse herself from an issue regarding a development proposed by the Terrigno family in which it appeared that she had pecuniary interest.

There are a number of questionable actions that apparently have been done by Councilor Farrell which have led to the lawsuit against her launched by the Terrigno family.

A large part of the defamation element of the suit revolves around Farrell apparently claiming that Mike Terrigno was a member of the mafia.

While this allegation sounds sort of comical at a glance, it is very serious when it is coming from an elected official and is directed at a business family. There are few things more damaging to the reputation of a business than being seen as being criminal.

If a person is ever going to state that another person is a criminal, they had better damn well be able to prove it or there will be and there should be legal consequences. It is a gross assault on a person’s character that simply can’t be ignored.

Naheed Nenshi certainly figured this out when he found himself sued for calling a local business man and philanthropist a “Godfather” like figure. That statement alone led to Nenshi having to settle with issuing a groveling apology, retraction and eating nearly $300,000 in legal fees (which he dumped on the taxpayers for a time).

If the statements in the affidavit sworn by Jeremy Sturgess are true, Druh Farrell went well beyond Nenshi’s vague statements with Wenzel and outright stated that Mike Terrigno is “the mafia”.

Like Nenshi, Druh Farrell has an unusually close relationship with her preferred architects.Jeremy Sturgess appears to be something of a favorite for Druh. Jeremy Sturgess has a number of ties to this lawsuit but I am sticking to the defamation aspect for now.

The sworn statement of a close associate of Councilor Farrell on this issue is quite compelling. It is not like Sturgess is a friend of the Terrigno family by any means. He is just giving a sworn and likely honest statement on what he remembers Druh Farrell having said to him about Mike Terrigno.

Below, Sturgess speaks to how long he has had a professional relationship with Farrell along with a reiteration on her apparent mafia allegations about Terrigno.

The document in its entirety can be found here

Seriously, just who do these elected officials think they are?

Do people like Nenshi and Farrell even think twice about how their statements can impact innocent business people? It appears not. It does appear that the courts are taking on the task of instilling the decency and common sense into these members of city hall that they somehow are personally lacking.

If Druh Farrell was telling Sturgess that Terrigno was mafia, who else has she been telling this to? How far has this rumor spread? How much damage has it and will it do to their family business?

Elected officials are entrusted by the public on a number of levels. City councilors hold a higher degree of public profile than your average citizen. This makes it more incumbent upon them to be careful with what they say about others as their words can have a very serious impact on them.

Farrell has dumped her legal fees upon the taxpayers without hesitation as she hunkers down with this lawsuit. Hardly tax funds well spent.

It is indeed election season. I think it is pretty clear that Ward 7 desperately needs new and responsible representation. Farrell has developed far too much entrenched entitlement to properly serve her constituents and the legal fees she is wracking up are simply far too expensive.

Lets hope the usually sleepy civic electorate gets up and votes Druh Farrell out of office next month. Taxpayers deserve it.

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First conservative unity, next conservative policy.

This weekend, I hope and expect that the majority of conservative minded people in Alberta will find themselves united under one banner.

One thing that has fallen by the wayside in these singular times of unity battles has been any real specific policy directions. This had to happen as we really need to unite under general principles of conservatism such as small government and low taxes. If we get ourselves mired into specific policy items we could reignite internal divisions at a time when we really can’t afford to. Conservatives can unite under general principles, but we can nitpick ourselves to death over the individual policies.

Assuming that the forces of unity are successful this weekend, we will then enter a formal leadership race (it has already been clearly informally running for some time now).

There is no better time to hammer out policy specifics and commitments than during a leadership race and we dearly need to start spelling out what the plan is.

Yes, the vast majority of Albertans think that the NDP is harming our province. We do not have a specific plan laid out for how we will mitigate the damage caused by the NDP once we finally toss them to the electoral curb however.

Most candidates and supporters agree that the NDP carbon tax has to go. Notley has proven that legislative flagellation through tax hikes will never buy us that mythical “social license” required to get our products out of the province. The impact of the carbon tax on our environment is negligible at best and the impact on the economy is terrible.

In cutting taxes though, how do we balance the budget?

There is no getting around it. We need to cut spending and we need to cut it deeply. The longer the NDP is in power, the more painful the recovery will be but we simply can’t avoid it. Alberta spends $2,700 more annually per-capita than our neighbors in BC. We have plenty of room to cut.

One of the most effective ways that the left has undercut those calling for spending cuts so far has been for them simply to ask “where will you cut?”.  That is a perfectly valid question and it absolutely has to be answered.

Health care and education make up the vast majority of our spending. No matter how people feel that these areas are sacred, we simply must reduce how much we spend in those areas. We can’t afford a hospital on every street corner or a nurse’s visit to every household. While it will never feel like we spend enough in these core services, we have very real limits on what we can afford. We need to examine these areas and cut spending to a reasonable level.

Just proposing such cuts will take political courage. Following through on these cuts will take leadership and strength.

Klein was at his most popular while he cut Alberta’s spending by 20% across the board. Despite the howls of the unions and the left still harping about it today, it really wasn’t that bad when the cuts were happening. There clearly was a great deal of bloat within the civil service and we were all better for the trimming of it. “Infrastructure deficit” is a bullshit term that some use to try and knock the austerity of those times. Again it is trash and most Albertans see through it. There will never be enough schools, interchanges, fire stations etc. We can always use more. Tax dollars are finite though and we have to draw a line somewhere. Klein’s support began dropping significantly as soon as he began falling into the tired old PC pattern of spending our way out of problems. Albertans appreciate fiscal restraint when it is presented with good leadership.

Image ht to Roy Doonanco

Brian Jean has chosen to avoid taking any strong stance on cuts and is pursuing the mushy middle. This is not my idea of strong leadership but I guess it is a strategy. I can’t help but remember Jean’s abysmal debate performance where he almost mindlessly answered every question by stating that he wont raise taxes. He literally sounded like some sort of broken record. I remember all too clearly sitting in a room full of volunteers on one of the campaigns. We had put up a projector screen and bought some beer and pizza to give our volunteers a night off. We hoped that they would be invigorated in watching the debates. We found ourselves dejected. That was the night that I truly began to realize that we were not going to win that election. Notley showed energy and vision, Prentice showed classic arrogance and Jean was inanimate. We are paying so dearly for the lack of principled leadership in that debate today.

Maybe Jean will show some more strength after the unity vote is finished with. Perhaps other candidates will spur some vigor out of him. Maybe Jean’s strategy of avoiding strong stands will actually pay off and he will win the leadership. I personally don’t think so.

Assuming a successful unity vote, the leadership race will very likely be determining who our next premier will be.

It will take vision, leadership and a true plan with policy specifics in order to win that leadership.

I do look forward to seeing who emerges from the pack with the above qualities as the race unfolds. We need some real policy discussion and we need it soon.

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The sad history of liberals in Alberta.

It is hardly a secret that Alberta is not a liberal friendly province. Alberta has been and remains a frontier for the ambitious and independent.  Agriculture drew courageous settlers in the late 1800s. Oil drew more in the early 1900s and high tech energy related jobs still draw people from all over the world today.

To relocate into a new environment and take a gamble on a new life takes courage. To endure and remain until you have established yourself takes dedication. In other words, since the beginning of confederation Alberta has drawn strong, independent minded people who don’t want or need big government to get in their way. To put it another way, Alberta has never really been a strong draw for liberals.

This can be seen quite clearly as the Liberal Party has languished for over a century in Alberta as a party yet cant form government.

In 1905 Alberta joined confederation and Liberal Alexander Rutherford was appointed as our first premier. Rutherford called an election later that year and established himself an elected mandate. Not too difficult to do when no opposition party system had been created or established yet. It took 12 years before Albertans organized and tossed the Liberal Party of Alberta to the electoral roadside for what has now been a century.

Had there not been a Liberal government in Ottawa in 1905, I suspect that we never would have seen a Liberal party in power in Alberta.

While the Liberals have run in 25 general elections since 1917, they have never come close to winning power in Alberta. Laurence Decore came somewhat close in 1993 by running on a platform more conservative than the Progressive Conservatives. The populist wave led by Ralph Klein beat back that effort and today despite burning through half a dozen new leaders the Liberals are as deep in the electoral toilet as ever in Alberta.

What is a dedicated liberal sort of person to do in such a situation?

Any realistic liberal (there are a few out there) knows that they will never form government under the Liberal Party banner so they need to seek other alternatives.

A liberal can doggedly keep trying under the party banner as they pursue another century in opposition.

A liberal can simply give up and go federal.

A liberal can go municipal where party allegiance isn’t always evident. That way they can campaign conservative and then govern as a liberal upon election while depending on electoral apathy in order to maintain their job.

A liberal can sneak into a conservative party and hope to turn it liberal.

To be fair though, Sanda Jansen is more of a simple opportunist than a liberal. Jansen would have been begging to join the Wildrose Party had they won the general election. Jansen only cares about residing in a government seat. The party means nothing to her.

The strategy of infiltrating and controlling the Progressive Conservative Party was a successful one for a time. From the later years of Klein’s leadership to the party’s electoral catastrophe in 2015 it was evident that the party was leaning far more to the “progressive” side and drifting away from the conservative side as liberal style entitlement scandals erupted and deficit budgets became common again.

The liberal transformation of the PCs led to the development of the Wildrose Party as an increasing number of conservatives gave up on the PC party.

Unfortunately, due to the now legendary act of treachery led by Danielle Smith and Jim Prentice, the electorate became so horrified and disgusted by both parties that they accidentally elected the Notley NDP.

Now, while the NDP “cure” is turning out to be worse than the disease, we are at least seeing some good long term outcomes here.

The liberals within the Progressive Conservative Party were by nature opportunists. Many of them jumped ship shortly after the party lost power. They had no interest in serving as an opposition party. Other liberals hung on in hopes of turning the shell of the party into a re-branded Liberal Party. Those hopes were dashed as Jason Kenney engaged conservative grassroots voters and swept into the leadership last spring.

The upside I am looking at is that the liberal element has been very effectively flushed from the PC party making the ability of creating a unified conservative party viable.

Now where do all these homeless liberals go?

Fear not. They have taken a page from the 1937 Liberal playbook when they tried to come into power under the Independent Citizen’s Association. You see, Liberals realized that they couldn’t win under their party banner so they tried to hide under a banner that stood for nothing. They banked on the electorate being so tired of openly partisan politics that they would latch on to a party that claimed to shun partisanship through being a coalition of independents thus non-partisan than ever. This coalition failed dismally and the first stealth Liberal attempt ended after the 1940 election when the coalition fell apart. If a party wont openly stand for something, they simply cant concentrate support.

Undaunted however, disaffected Liberals are confident that they can pull this off through the Alberta Party.

The Alberta Party has been around in a few incarnations since the 1980s.  In 2010 a group of liberals took over the small party and in hopes of creating the stealth liberal party they desired. Ever avoiding a solid policy stance on anything, the Alberta Party held a painfully long process that hey coined “the big listen”. The logic was that if they claimed to be always listening to Albertans that they would somehow gain broad support. In maintaining this party that wasn’t a party approach, the Alberta Party took the province by storm in the 2012 general election with a solid 1.33% of the vote.

Undaunted, they carried on. They replaced the term listen with “center”. They follow a simplistic belief that the majority of people are in this mushy world of being in the center and that they surly will engage this giant yet sleeping majority and get a firm center (liberal) government in Alberta. Fiercely battling in the 2015 general election the Alberta Party garnered a staggering 2.28% of the vote. Apparently the center was sleeping that day.

Interestingly though, some experienced liberal operatives will be moving into the Alberta Party this time now that they have lost their Progressive Conservative home. A few champagne socialists will likely pony up some contributions to the next campaign as well.

Will the rallying cry of “centrists!” lead to the first Liberal government in Alberta in over 100 years? I sincerely doubt it.

All the same, it is nothing if not interesting to see a tenacious group of people working generation after generation to sell a product that simply does not appeal to the majority and through so many ways.

We are in quite a period of political flux in Alberta right now to say the least. It will be interesting to see where all the chips land in the next couple years and where liberals will go after the Alberta Party loses another general election through running on nothing.

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Legitimacy of next Progressive Conservative leader already in question

ballot

The lackluster race to lead the governing Progressive Conservative Party is finally coming to an end tomorrow. Thanks to the Westminster System, the person selected by the membership of the party will essentially automatically become the Premier of the province of Alberta. Unfortunately due to a series of terrible decisions in setting up the system for the leadership election, we will never be confident of the legitimacy of whomever ends up elected in this mess.

I served on the three person committee that managed the election of Danielle Smith as leader of the Wildrose Party in 2009. I learned many lessons through the course of that race. The hardest lesson for an idealist like me was accepting that even in an internal race there are many people who are eager to stretch and break rules in order to win. While most people have personal principles that would prevent this, sadly many will do whatever they can to try and gain an edge for their team. For example, one of the teams in the Wildrose leadership race literally signed up multiple dead people as members. This was caught and internal discipline was enforced. One day I will go into more full detail about some of the stunts attempted in that race.

Because of the reality that some will try to abuse the system, some checks and balances were built into the system to try and reduce or eliminate abuses.

1. In the Wildrose Party, aside from immediate family members, all members must purchase their own membership.

This one can be tough to manage but with the checks below, one can see how bulk buying of memberships is difficult in a properly run leadership system.

The Prentice team initially denied and then admitted to buying memberships for others. While the practice of buying memberships for others is frowned upon by most, it is not technically wrong in the PC leadership election system. I will explain below why this is a huge problem.

2. In the Wildrose race, after a period of time, the membership lists of all teams were shared for the remainder of the campaign. In the PC race this is not happening.

Leadership races put a huge strain upon the resources of the party. Teams typically hold their membership sales tight until the last minute and then literally dump tens of thousands of them on the party at once to be processed. Just entering these memberships into the system alone is a Herculean task, scrutinizing the veracity of the members effectively is nearly impossible for the party itself. This is where sharing the lists with the teams is critical.

Who better to check the lists of members and how they were signed up than competing leadership teams? You can rest assured that volunteers in the different leadership teams in the Wildrose were dedicated to scrutinizing the new lists of members for discrepancies the moment that they got these lists. This is indeed how some of the small but still egregious abuses of the system came to light in the Wildrose leadership race. It was the knowledge that these lists would be shared that kept some of the unprincipled from abusing the system in any large way. They knew that if there were 50 memberships coming from the same household or if one person was signed up 6 times with slight differences in the spelling of their names that alarm bells would go off so they didn’t even try.

In refusing to share the membership lists among the teams, the PC party has invited abuse and we know it is happening. The only questions are the degree of the abuse and how it may or may not have affected the outcome of the race. We likely will never be able to find out.

3. The Wildrose invited scrutineers to be present for every aspect of the vote counting. Now to be fair, one unprincipled team actually took advantage of that for their own benefit and I will indeed write in detail about that down the road. Either way, for the most part having representatives from leadership teams present helps prevent counting abuses and such. As with the membership lists, nobody is better to police the rules in these regards than the teams themselves. The PCs are not allowing such scrutiny which is very distressing.

4. The PCs are using a telephone/internet voting system.

There are countless essays and articles about why these systems are terrible and ripe for abuse. I will let the reader google that should they want more information as my posting is getting lengthy enough.

Aside from cracking the system itself, the phone/internet system of voting also allows anonymity in voting which makes abuse terribly easy.

Let’s say for example I was an unprincipled supporter of one of the campaigns and I had deep pockets for some reason. Let’s say I have access to voters lists from elections Alberta. I could theoretically sign up hundreds or possibly thousands of people for memberships without their knowledge. All I would have to change would be the email address to send the PIN for voting to which is an option in the system. The party’s only check is that the name and address matches the electors list. With the members list reaching the party at the last minute, no physical mail would reach the unknowing new member until the race was over. Communications would come through the email address. With online voting and over the course of a couple days, one person alone could vote countless times and how would they be caught? Scrutineers wont catch it as the party is not allowing them.

The provincial Liberals, Alberta Party and federal NDP all did remote voting in their last races. The turnout for all of those races were dismal so what is the reason to go with this terrible system?

As I type this we are hearing all sorts of reports about how the system is getting overloaded and people cant get their votes in. Odd in mid-day on a weekday. One would think most prospective voters would be working.

The voting system is turning out to be a gong-show of a disaster and the voting has only been going on for a few hours now.

In light of the huge exploits I have demonstrated above, how could anybody really be sure that whoever wins the race has done so fairly? The PC party is already reeling from years of scandals and have lost the trust of many Albertans. What they needed was a leader elected to refresh the party and get off to a principled start. This is impossible now as we will never be able to be sure if that leader was legitimately elected.

Opportunity lost again.

 

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Portrait of a left-wing mind.

Hat tip to John Westerberg for sending me this gem. The mindset of your average dipper makes sense in light of this pic.

Aside from a short picture post, have added a few more updates to the list of Wildrose Party Executive Committee nomination candidates for the 2012y Annual General Meeting in Edmonton. Will keep filling out that list as updates and bios come in.

 

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It’s like pulling teeth.

In the last little while the Wildrose Party Executive Committee has reminded me of nothing less than the Stelmach PC party in their inept reactionary way of dealing with issues within the party. With multiple blog postings on this site, it has been exposed that the Executive Committee barely met five times in an election year, missed the window to hold an Annual General Meeting where policy and constitution could be revised by the membership and now are bungling the process of nominations for the Executive Committee to the point of violating our very party constitution.

Every time these issues are brought to light, the Executive Committee or others in positions of responsibility within the party have grumblingly and grudgingly addressed the problem. It is sad that it takes such pressure and scrutiny from social media and outside individuals to keep our current Executive Committee even marginally functional.

Now my far prettier and more sane half, Jane Morgan has gotten to work with her keyboard and phone to expose even more detail on the inept actions of the Wildrose Executive Committee under President Paul Collins and has excellently detailed her findings on her blog. While some slight effort was made by some to lay blame for the mess on the nominations committee, Jane exposed that the committee had not even met before and had no idea that the Wildrose Party had posted a constitutionally illegal application form for executive nomination forms on the party website. I of course invite you to click through above and read the details and updates from Jane yourself.

Again responsibility lies directly with the current executive committee. Did the whole committee approve of that document being drafted and put on the website? Who drafted it anyway? Did the VP communications approve that release? Did the President approve it?

Jane’s latest update has been that she is informed that a meeting will be held to discuss this issue and that she will be updated on it’s outcome soon.

I do hope that those at this apparent meeting realize that there is very little to discuss. The Wildrose Party Executive Committee either chooses to act within the Party constitution or it does not. There is no gray area here. You can’t act just a little outside of the rules you are bound by in this game.

With the waffling and the profound nature of this oversight (if indeed that is what this is), I strongly suggest that the membership of the Wildrose Party strongly consider voting to replace the entire current Executive Committee at this year’s Annual General Meeting in Edmonton. While I do know that many of the member’s of the Executive Committee are excellent individuals and while I know that a few have been privately communicating with myself and others to try and fix this mess, not a single one has been willing to break ranks openly and condemn this breach of the party constitution. Not a one will call out and demand that the party President publically fix this sooner rather than later as embarassment and even rumors of corruption spread.

The Executive Committee needs to be made up of a diverse group of committed individuals who will follow through with their assigned roles and who will speak up when things are wrong. Our currently Executive Committee is lacking on all of those fronts.

The party constitution is not a document full of suggestions for the Executive Committee to abide by. It is a document drafted by the members and controlled by the members for the protection of the rights of the members. Only through 2/3 of the collected members at a general meeting can that document be changed and this has not happened. The Executive Committee is bound by the party constitution no ifs ands or buts about it and they had better damn well realize that quick.

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