The Progressive Conservative establishment selected their candidate

janse

Now that the remnants of the Progressive Conservative Party old guard have finished trying to rig their leadership race rules as tightly as possible in favor of the party status-quo (which is moribund and indebted), they have now settled on their preferred candidate.
For those who want to turn the clock back and return to the Progressive Conservative Party that held no solid principles and governed simply based on the rationale of retaining power, Sandra Jansen is the clear candidate of choice.
Through her own actions over the years, Sandra has exemplified the shallow, self-serving, opportunism that the Progressive Conservative Party had come to represent after holding power for over four decades in Alberta.
Jansen never held or shared any conservative principles with the party of her choice. Jansen is and was a Liberal through and through as she demonstrated many times over the years. Sandra was canny enough to realize that if she aspired to rise above an opposition seat in Alberta and gain a cabinet position or even the Premiership, she would have to pretend to be a conservative and gain her seat through the party that appeared to her as being an unbeatable juggernaut (at that time).

liberal liberal2
Jansen happily jumped on board with Alison Redford as Redford sold her party’s political soul to unions in order to win the party leadership (Redford later betrayed those union supporters too of course). As a loyal Redford supporter, Jansen was rewarded with a minor associate minister’s portfolio.


Even in an obscure ministerial role, Jansen could not help but let her Liberal elitism leak out as she embarrassed herself by berating electricians as being too low of form of trade to maintain political roles.
Jansen quickly scurried into hiding and let the party take care of damage control due to Sandra’s rather embittered outlook on tradespeople was exposed.

electrician
As Redford fell into disgrace, Jansen wisely kept a low profile and waited to see who the next leader to latch on to would be. That person of course was Jim Prentice. In hopes of climbing the cabinet ladder, Sandra Jansen happily sponsored what would turn out to be a disaster in the first incarnation of Bill 10.
Despite claiming to be a champion for LGTBQ kids, Sandra Jansen sponsored a bill that would force those kids to appear before a judge in court in order to form support clubs in schools if the school or board refused them. As the backlash over Sandra Jansen’s bill grew, things got more absurd as the PCs of the time said that LGTBQ kids no longer would have to appear before a judge in order to form clubs, they would simply have to get an order from the Education Minister. It was also implied that these kids could simply form clubs down the street and away from school property if need be. Gee how progressive Sandra. Would they get off property washrooms and fountains too if there were more concerns?

Sandra Jansen’s version of Bill 10 was a complete catastrophe that offended most of the province. Prentice was forced to intervene and pull the bill off the table in order to try and rework it into something palatable in the spring.
Below we can see Jansen meekly standing aside as Prentice takes over and works to clean up her mess.

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Jansen has since claimed that her sponsorship of the bill was a terrible mistake. Hindsight helps that way. In reality, we all know that if the bill had passed in the legislature in it’s first incarnation and had Prentice not disastrously lost the general election that Sandra Jansen would happily be sitting in a cabinet seat in the Prentice government today doing what she is told and aspiring to his role in government.
A strongly principled person would never have sponsored legislation that goes against their personal principles. A person who puts ambition above principle however will do so without hesitation as we saw Jansen do.

If Sandra Jansen had what it takes to be a leader, she would have passed on sponsoring that bill or even spoke against it. Some in the PC caucus of the time did so. What other principles will Sandra Jansen set aside if she feels they will hinder her personal political path? Only time will tell.
The Progressive Conservative Party took what should have been a terribly humbling loss in the last general election. Their complacence and arrogant practices led to Alberta accidentally electing an NDP government. Despite this, the remaining old guard within the party feel that the best course of action is to bring in another leader that is weak in principles and carries the baggage of the last two leaders who left in disgrace.
The PC party has an opportunity to look ahead and re-brand with a new approach or they can elect a retread of Alison Redford who is a little less bright.

redbean

We will find out in the next few months.

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Abuse of electoral laws doesn’t bother you? How about tax evasion?

Understandably most people don’t really pay close attention to or study provincial electoral laws. They are dry and the way our Redford government has repeatedly stretched and abused them, surely many are wondering if we have electoral financing laws at all.

Personally, I would not be wholely against the lifting of all limits, ending the grossly generous tax-credit system for political contributions and simply focussing on ensuring full transparency of all fundraising. In the meantime however, we do have some laws regarding electoral financing and they should be abided by and equally applied to all parties. If the Redford government has not outright taken part in breaking our electoral financing laws, they certainly have been complicit in a gross and massive abuse of the spirit of the laws.

There was a similar situation a few years ago when the Wildrose Party was in it’s incarnation as the Alberta Alliance (yes they are technically the same party)., The Thorsteinson family had made unusually large contributions which rang the alarm bells of Elections Alberta. An investigation ensued which even involved the RCMP appearing in the party office demanding documents. Is the RCMP demanding documents from Katz, his family and the long list of associates that apparently all donated to the Redford government? With heavy pressure from opposition parties, Elections Alberta has almost grudgingly launched an investigation into the Katz scandal. Nothing less than such a police search of the PC offices would ensure equal application of the laws in this case.

If indeed it is true that one cheque for $430,000 was presented to the Progressive Conservative Party by Katz (the Globe has not been sued yet so I suspect that is true), then it will have to be proven that all of the people listed had shared access to accounts in such a way that they could all have come from one source such as this apparent cheque. That is the sort of thing that covers a married couple for example should they both donate through one cheque.

My wife Jane has done some incredible work in digging out who was supposedly at the source of all those donations and has documented it here.

Now is it really within the realm of credibility that all of those people had a shared account? Do you really believe that coincidentally so many tight associates and family members of Katz suddenly decided to donate the maximum legal amount individually to the Progressive Conservatives? Do you really believe Redford when she says she didn’t know anything about over 25% of her campaign funding from a single source? It would take a great deal of substance abuse to believe any of that.

There are couple of big “Ifs” in there though. If there was indeed over a dozen cheques writted from all of these individuals and it can be proven that it was their own money and not laundered by Katz through them then there is no problem. If there was a giant chain of joint accounts that led to the one account that wrote a single cheque for $430,000 (if it was indeed one cheque), then there is not a problem. Seems pretty unlikely though.

Now if this was indeed all from Katz and he gets away with it, we may as well dump our electoral financing laws altogether. Think of it this way, lets say I won the lottery and decided that I wanted to donate a million dollars to the Wildrose Party. All I would have to do is go to my local bar and shout out “Who wants a free guaranteed $1000 tax credit for their return this year?”. I could then just gather names and addresses from people and donate on their behalf. If I say only donated $5,000 per person using one million dollars, I could get 200 people tax credits equalling $200,000 taken from provincial tax revenue fraudulently. Possibly even more if I drop the donation to $2,500 each.

While PC apologists keep trying to dismiss this issue, the gravity of it simply can’t be understated. Leaving aside the clear appearance of influence peddling to a man who has a great deal to gain or lose through government actions, we have what could be a case of mass tax fraud.

The speaker of the legislature keeps trying to halt discussion of this as it being a partisan issue. Well Mr. Speaker, may opposition members speak about potential tax evasion? How many more excuses can the Speaker generate to quell debate on this issue?

This investigation is too important to get swept under the rug. We have to keep the noise up to keep this from going away before all of the facts are exposed.

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Taxpayers are squeezed enough! We have a spending problem.

 A few weeks ago I attended one of the Alberta Party’s big listens in Medicine Hat. It was a cold winter night and I figured that I may as well pop out and see what the Twitter crowd was up to. The tea-house that hosted the event was beautiful and the environment was welcoming for the 17 or so of us who showed up. The people in attendance whether with the Alberta Party or there to learn about the party all appeared to be earnest and seeking ways to improve the province.

 The “big listen” was an interesting excercise to say the least. We began with introductions and continued to circle the room with guests speaking about how they feel about things in what felt like some support group manner. We were asked to expand on what we felt grateful for and what we were optimistic about. It certainly was warm and fuzzy but there really were no conclusive policy discussions within the first hour. That is reflected in what the Alberta Party has hammered together for vague policies so far.  

 The views of the room became more evident in the later part of the meeting when people could speak more specifically to their concerns. One fellow was there because he felt that government was not spending enough for his pet project of a local library. Another person there was a representative of the teachers union who expressed that the government was not spending enough on education. There was a man in attendance who felt that government was not spending enough to preserve and set aside prairie land for protection of species and there was a couple from the “friends of medicare” who went on at length about how government has been starving healthcare.

  The gal from “friends of medicare” then launched into a tirade about how government has a revenue problem and we must further tax the rich and that energy companies are robbing Alberta blind. It was disconcerting seeing the heads nodding around the room during this rant worthy of Vladimir Lenin as people envisioned increased funding for their personal projects taken from some apparent faceless “rich people” and corporations. The simplistic Robin Hood call of taxing the evil rich unfortunately is an effective one for many people. It is unfortunate that is destroys economies when followed as we are seeing in Europe.

 All of the concerns expressed by the people in that room that night are valid ones and important ones. These were the concerns expressed with less than 20 Albertans when an open meeting is called. Imagine how many individual pet projects come up when a large townhall meeting is held. The Alberta Party meeting was a microcosm of a large townhall meeting. People with predetermined special interests show up and lobby MLAs furiously with funding demands for their projects. Due to this, we can see why the tired Progressive Conservative MLAs succumb to the temptation to simply promise money to all rather than take on the difficult task of governing with a sense of fiscal responsibility. This is reflected in our series of deficit budgets.

 Lets get some facts out there now.

Health spending in Alberta was $1,950 per-capita in 2001. This year it will be an estimated $6,266 per-capita. We have tripled per-capita healthcare spending in Alberta in less than ten years and we are spending the most in the entire nation. I must call B.S. on those claiming that we are underfunding healthcare in Alberta.

How about education? Well Alberta tops the nation in spending per-capita on education too.

http://policyschool.ucalgary.ca/files/publicpolicy/albsp2.pdf 

 The trend is consistent in virtually all departments of spending. Alberta is consistently near the top or at the top of spending when compared to every other province in Canada. How the hell can people keep claiming that we do not spend enough?
 
 Alberta spends the least (for now) in debt servicing per-capita. For those who truly care about program spending, how can you lobby for further deficit budgets that will lead us to wasting money on interest charges and debt servicing instead of spending on core programs? I can think of few worse ways to spend tax dollars.
 For those who feel we need to tax those nasty corporations by the way, I suggest that you do some research into who actually owns those corporations and where the profits go (here is a hint, it is your pension plan). RRSPs and pension plans by far make up the majority of corporate ownership in Canada so when you folks want to knock those big nasty businesses keep in mind that you are shooting directly at your own feet. Those corporations employ millions as well and when they get knocked with taxes they tend to lay folks off.
 Support for deficit/debt budgets comes only from people with a deep abiding special interest or people simply participating in intellectual/political sloth. Alberta brings in more than enough revenue from taxpayers. We need to work on the proper management of the funding that we already have.
There really is no excuse to expand spending beyond inflation and population growth. It is too bad that our government is too weak to acknowledge that and we will see that this afternoon when we are presented with the Ted Morton / Ed Stelmach deficit budget.

Authors of our 2011/2012 deficit budget.

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They just don’t get it.

 Being stranded in New York for the last while, my blogging lagged somewhat.

 I can’t think of a better story to get back in the swing of things.

Wildrose #1 in Alberta, poll finds.

 Now the Wildrose Alliance Party reaching the status of government in waiting is certainly worthy of discussion on it’s own. What I am finding more interesting at the moment though is the hysterical commentary from Liberal/Progressive Conservative stalwarts in light of these numbers. Blogs and the comment sections in newspapers are great places for insight into the mindset of the fast-dwindling supporters of the traditional Alberta parties.

 Liberal supporters are acting predictably. The number of commenters calling the electorate stupid and labelling Albertans as a collection of slack-jawed yokels who are too stupid to embrace what they consider as a good progressive alternative is appalling. I understand that the general concepts of democracy are often lost on those who embrace the left but come on guys, think about this. Whether you like it or not, those slack jawed locals have the power of the vote and they exercise it. Try to peek outside of your ivory tower for a moment and understand why your party has not been able to gain an inch in decades. Here is a political tip that I will offer for free, try listening to the electorate instead of constantly berating them as being a collection of fools. You may finally see a one point jump in the polls.

 I can understand the Liberal rage in Alberta. This is a party that has been in Alberta since the province was founded. Currently we have what appears to be the most inept provincial government since Harry Strom and an electorate that is salivating for change. Despite this situation, the Liberals simply can’t gain an inch in Alberta. This was reflected rather well in the Calgary Glenmore by-election. The Liberals pulled in every possible volunteer from across the province and poured every nickle that they had into the campaign. The NDP sat out the campaign and the Green Party no longer exists. The outcome was that a brand new party passed the Liberals and took the seat while the Liberals were mired at the exact same support levels that they enjoyed years ago.

 The writing is on the wall. Alberta is simply not a Liberal supporting province and never will be. Get over it and move on guys.

 Now the reaction from the few remaining PC diehards is telling as well. Currently we are still seeing denial. Shallow and short comments regarding their current status show that these folks still do not realize just how threatened their position of power is. Dismissing the Wildrose Alliance Party as irrelevant is sort of pointless now isn’t it? Well that seems to be the best the PCs can come up with. Firing out terms such as “bigots, rednecks, extreme” has not been too effective either particularly in light of all the socially conservative actions of the Stelmach regime in the last couple years. Here is a tip for you guys, pretending that the Wildrose Alliance Party will simply fade away is not a good strategy on your part.

 What I see from the party stalwarts in both the PCs and the Liberals is a stubborn insistence on staying the course. Despite the astronomical plummeting of support for the PCs and the flaccid state of support for the Liberals, neither party is even considering making large and real change. The electorate is simply leaving the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives behind.

 Historically Albertans have always been ready to embrace change. From giving women the right to vote to creating entirely new political movements Alberta has led the nation consistently.

 The people of Alberta are ready for another wholesale change and the traditional parties will not let themselves realize this. It is clear that the Wildrose Alliance Party has become that vehicle for change and I don’t see this trend stopping. The membership is still seeing explosive growth, an increasingly skilled set of people are involved in the management of the party and our ground organization is coming along excellently. I suspect that even Stelmach is not foolish enough to call an early election at this point and with two more years of organization the Wildrose Alliance Party will be quite a force in the next general election.

 Let the remaining supporters of the Liberals and Conservatives continue to fiddle. Alberta has discovered an option and Albertans are embracing it. The future looks bright for the Wildrose Alliance Party and Alberta itself.  

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Why, why, why?

 I just finished listening to a frustrating and circular interview of Lindsay Blackett on an Albertan radio show. While Blackett should be commended for being willing to respond to callers (most PC guests refuse to), he really did not have much of worth to say.

 The subject was the contentious Bill 44 that is going before the legislature. Some months ago Blackett mused about the need to reform Alberta’s human rights act as section 3 was leading to infringements on free speech. Blackett was applauded by supporters of free speech and no opposition to this reform was heard.

 Finally the day arrived when Lindsay Blackett presented the bill to reform the act and it looks like pretty much nobody was prepared for the idiocy contained within the bill. While the free speech amendments appeared roundly popular, Blackett was compelled to drop that aspect of reform. Protection of free speech is not a priority for the Stelmach Progressives. Alberta can look forward to more attacks on the press and individuals in the future by people claiming hurt feelings. Press can continue to feel the chill and activists can continue to abuse our tax funded human rights commissions in order to stifle contrary opinions.

 I can understand why Special Ed Stelmach would like to curb free speech. Stelmach has been known to bully student bloggers who have dared mock him with legal threats. I am sure that Chairman Ed would like to expand his powers to suppress speech made by Albertans that he does not approve of. This move was sad but not surprising from a government that has little respect for democracy and discourse.

 What is really odd with Blackett’s bill was the inclusion of parental rights regarding education. The hornet’s nest has been poked and opposition to this addition is coming from all directions whether teachers groups or civil libertarians. Fears of people taking teachers to the human rights commission over the teaching of evolution and other such examples are abounding. Alberta’s unfair reputation as being backwards or redneck is only getting more deeply entrenched now.

 Getting back to the “why” of this. On the radio, Blackett kept downplaying the potential impact of this bill by pointing out that the Alberta School act already allows parents to remove their children from school if they feel the subject matter clashes with their religion. Uhh, OK. In that case, why do we need this added to the bill? The host kept asking and Blackett kept dodging. Blackett than pointed out that while there are over 2000 schools in Alberta, only 50 some people actually opted their kids out of any classes. Uhhhh OK. In that case why do we need this? Clearly it is a tiny minority that really even care on this issue. The host persisted on the why aspect and Blackett got increasingly flustered. The reason Blackett was flustered was that he really has no answer to the question of why we need this addition to our legislation.

 Stubbornly our PCs push on, enduring heaps of abuse and having our province labelled as being populated by bumpkins (considering the bumpkin nature of our premier, we really did not need more of this).

 From record deficits to needless controversy over unnecessary legislation, the Progressive Conservative government of Alberta is proving itself to be completely incompetent. To those who have been claiming for the last 8 years or so that the PCs can be reformed from within, give your heads a shake. The PC party is hopelessly inept.

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