Real transparency is what we need.

Buzz words come and go. I almost get nauseated when I hear the vapid overuse of the terms “vibrant” and “sustainable” these days particularly when they appear to be tossed into political speech with no context. The word transparency has been a popular word too and it has been terribly abused. Last spring while Alison Redford was claiming a balanced budget on her campaign of misinformation, she also used the word “transparency” constantly.

We know that Redford was lying about balancing the budget, and in light of Alberta’s transparency rating a couple months ago, it is clear that Redford was only paying lip service to that concept in the last provincial election too. Alberta is one of the least transparent provinces in the country.

True transparency is simple. With modern communications and databasing, there really is little excuse for exorbitant FOIP fees. It is not as if a government employee has to dig into a cavernous archive of micro-fiche any longer and provide a paper copy for an information request. Aside from some personnel employment specifics and some discussions that need to remain in-camera for competitive reasons, there really is no reason that Albertans should not be able to access damn near any government information at any time online.

We will have some election financing reforms coming in today. Hopefully some meaningful reforms come in this legislation. Our provincial government fired a Chief Electoral Officer the last time he dared to suggest changes to our electoral system so my faith in this corrupted government’s will to actually change things.

If we do see some good reforms in new legislation, it will only be because of the deep corruption that has been exposed in our current government with over 80 cases of apparent illegal contributions to the Progressive Conservatives having come to light. Transparency exposed these aspects of government corruption rather than any legislation and it took some very heavy digging by a determined CBC reporter to expose most of this. Most people simply do not have the time and resources to get all that information.

Redford showed that she is happy to gleefully spit in the face of the spirit of electoral finance legislation when her party happily pocketed what appears to have been a single cheque from Katz for $430,000 and then got to work on laundering it out to fit within the grossly loose contribution laws. This demonstrates again how legislation will have little effect on our current corrupted government.

Public exposure and shaming has far more deterrent effect on our government than any legislation will. As we have seen in the legislature yesterday and in the last election, the Redford government will lie blatantly and without hesitation in order to maintain their grip on power. With real transparency though, their lies can and will be exposed immediately.

When we see a government so deeply corrupt that the Premier’s own sister is laundering tax dollars back to the Progressive Conservative Party, I think we can say with confidence that we will not see true reform or transparency coming from this corrupted regime.

What I am saying is twofold;

Alberta needs a true and massive reform that will give real transparency of government spending and actions to the public.

Alberta will never get that transparency from a government as corrupted as our current one. We need to replace the governing party.

We don’t need legislation for immediate transparency though. We simply need open truthful dialog from our leaders. Below though, is the video of Alison Redford hiding from our provincial legislature and hiding from the press as the corruption involving her sister was exposed:


What a cowardly Premier we are saddled with. The biggest scandal of the year is surfacing and she hasn’t even the glimmer of courage or leadership to at least speak to this mess of her creating.

Transparency is to corrupted people such as the Redford Sisters as sunlight is to vampires.

Let’s keep working to dislodge the Progressive Conservative Party from the reigns of power in Alberta. We also must ensure that the incoming government has ironclad policies that will force real transparency upon the government and that putting those policies in place is a prime priority. Only then will we be able to keep corruption effectively out of our provincial administration.

Stranger than fiction.

The latest breaking story of corruption by our Progressive Conservative government really is such a gross example of corruption on so many levels that it reads like a novel of a fictional government in some sort of third-world dictatorship.

Premier Alison Redford’s sister who was appointed to a plum executive position with the Calgary Health Region had been illegally laundering tax dollars back to the party that her sister leads!

In light of the above sentence it really sounds too grossly corrupt to be true. Even Fidel and Raul Castro would blush at such blatant corruption and family cronyism.

The full story is here and was broken by Charles Rusnell with the CBC. I am often quite the critic of the CBC but a huge hat tip has to be given to Rusnell’s investigative work in this last few years. This is one of many stories of Progressive Conservative corruption that he has broken in his actions as a one-man opposition party and watchdog.

Fewer issues have better illustrated the deeply ingrained culture of entitlement and corruption of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta than this latest revelation.

The utter shamelessness of this government has been striking. They are leading us back into debt, giving themselves an 8% raise, while forcing our Doctors into a contract with a 2.5% raise and in the midst of constant scandals breaking of their obscene expensing such as with Premier Redford’s gold-plated trip to the London Olympics we still see more of these scandals breaking.

The Progressive Conservative Party has been applauded for it’s ability to hit bottom with the electorate and manage to renew itself at the last minute before losing power. This happened with Getty and Stelmach. Dogged partisan supporters of the party would crow of “change from within” and optimistic Albertans unfortunately would buy it at election time. This time the thin facade of reform didn’t even last a year before all of the scandals began to surface showing that the Progressive Conservative Party is more corrupt than ever.

The culture of the Progressive Conservative Party is one of entitlement and it shows rather clearly. The movers and shakers in that party do not lose a wink of sleep as they rob taxpayers to fund their own partisan activities. They really do feel that Albertan taxpayers owe them something. Premier Redford doesn’t think twice about expensing a $24 cup of coffee nor keeping her sister in a senior government position. Redford thought nothing of lying bald-faced in claiming that she didn’t know that a single donor provided almost a third of her election budget in the last election and she thought nothing of lying to Albertans in campaigning on a balanced budget.

This is a form of group sociopathy. The people in the Redford government truly do not even realize that they are doing something wrong. They have been in power for 41 years and really feel that this entitles them to act however they please and that the laws do not apply to them.

This party atmosphere of entitlement, corruption and indifference to the needs and laws of Albertans is not the sort of thing that can be “changed from within”. The Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta needs to be removed from power within Alberta. It is unfortunate that it will still be 3 1/2 years before we get the chance to do so in an election and I fear for the amount of corruption and damage that this broken regime will cause before we can get them out.

Left right or center, it is clear that we as Albertan’s  have to get rid of the corrupt regime that we so recently elected on false promises and premises.

Redford and her cronies are embarrassing us as a province. This illness can’t be treated, it must be excised.


 In compounding their cowardice in the face of this reprehensible scandal, Redford hid in Ottawa and assigned her Deputy Premier to sit in for her in the legislature. The Deputy Premier shamelessly lied repeatedly and called all who dared question the illegal contributions made by the Premier’s sister “bottom feeders”.

Redford was found sprinting through an Ottawa Hotel. Rather than answer pressing questions for the Albertans who employ her, Premier Redford refused to even make eye contact with cameras as her security detail rudely shoved press aside as can be seen in the video below:


Redford clearly lacks even an ounce of principle or leadership. It is bad enough to embroil our province in such an embarrassing scandal, but to be too cowardly to even address it herself shows Redford is completely unfit to stand as our Premier.

Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s right.

The few dogged supporters remaining for the corrupted and embattled Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta are chirping on social media in a lame defense of their party having gotten nearly 1/3 of their entire election contributions from one source. That the donor (Katz) is also seeking a $100,000,000 cheque from the provincial government in return is apparently either lost on the Progressive Conservative crowd or they are perfectly alright with this blatant purchase of their party’s favor.

Yes, this will likely be legal though the Chief Electoral Officer (appointed by the government) may take a moment to have a look at things. Yes the ethics commissioner (appointed by the government) likely and predictably would see nothing wrong with this.

It is the judgement of the electorate that the Redford regime needs to face the wrath of. In her first few days of the legislature’s first real session, we have seen the PCs push for and then back off from a reprehensible gouge and increase in their severance packages and RRSP contributions and now making excuses for stretching the electoral laws to the maximum by happily taking hundreds of thousands from a man with interests in getting government money. I fear to think what this corrupted regime will accomplish in the next 3.5 years.

Hey Redford, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

We blew it as Albertans in the last election. The campaign to fix that error needs to begin now. The entrenched and corrupted PC regime has been in power for 41 years. Like a tick that has dug in deeply, it will be tough to get it out but it will be worth it.

Graham Thomson covers the whole mess excellently here.

Let’s keep the Wildrose Party members empowered.

The evolution of the Wildrose Party has had many ups, downs and turning points. One of the most significant unifying and strengthening exercises that the party ever undertook though was the member driven election of Danielle Smith as our party leader. It is during that campaign when members were engaged by multiple candidates for months as a small but diverse slate pursued their support for the leadership. During that time the members could truly feel how important they were in guiding the direction of the party as every one of their votes mattered. In the end, the membership overwhelmingly elected Danielle Smith who has proven to be one of the most engaging and dynamic party leaders we have seen in Alberta in a long long time. With the collected engaged wisdom of the membership, a leader was chosen who would bring us from one seat at that time to the 17 seats and official opposition status in only a few years. Member driven politics do work and thousands of minds are better than one. It is very possible that the Wildrose Party may form the next government of Alberta if we keep things principled and together.

Between the selection of leaders, the membership is empowered in that they constitutionally are the sole authority in the selection of the party executive committee. The Executive Committee manages the operations and general direction of the party. Their role is to seek, reflect and act upon the combined will of the party membership. It is in nominating and electing the party executive committee that the membership ensures that the party reflects them and not any small our unaccountable groups.

The whole process for selecting the executive committee is very straightforward and simple. Any member in good standing may be nominated up to 65 days before the Annual General Meeting. Those members will then be listed and will campaign to the membership asking to be selected by secret ballot at the AGM by the collected membership. Very democratic, very grassroots and very effective when left alone.

Unfortunately and almost inevitably self-interested small groups will try and undermine the democratic means of running an organization. It really is sad to see how the Wildrose Party executive committee has behaved in this last 15 months since they took on their roles. As per this blog posting it can be seen that the executive committee only formally met five times in an election year.  That is pretty sad for a group with such an important role. How can one do their job by only meeting once every couple months? The party President has not been calling meetings and has been all but invisible in general. The AGM notification is turning into an embarrassing fiasco and policy will not even be deliberated on.

Despite this terribly lacklustre performance, apparently many of these current executive members plan to keep their positions past this AGM. While there is nothing wrong with seeking re-election, it is getting very disturbing seeing what is apparently a move to limit the simple member choice system in the election of our executive committee as was documented in this blog posting.  The current Executive Committee is directly responsible for this mess and one can really only assume that the only rationale for such a blatant breach in our party constitution was to try and limit who may or may not contest the current executive committee for board positions. Even the Progressive Conservative Party is more open in their board selection than this!

It is grassroots empowerment that is our strength as a party. It is the power of the membership that makes us feel like participants in a party rather than simply wallets for it. It will be through allowing the membership to guide the general direction of party operations through it’s election of the executive committee that our party will stabilize to the point where Danielle Smith can lead us to a full electoral victory without worrying about what is happening with the party board.

Despite this embarrassing and flagrant breach of the party constitution in trying to empower an appointed anonymous committee who can reject nominees “for any reason they see fit”, none of the current executive committee members have shown the courage to come forth and at least try to explain or justify this breach. That speaks volumes of how functional, democratic and freethinking our current executive committee is.

We will not let hidden groups block the democratic election of our executive committee! I know there will be some excellent candidates coming forward at this year’s AGM and I look forward to seeing the membership selecting them. I won’t say who to vote for but I will say that nobody should even consider voting for an executive committee member who remained silent in the face of a breach of our constitution by them. We need change.

The members chose a great leader, they will choose a great executive committee too when given the chance. We just had better ensure that the members maintain that right as clearly somebody is trying to take it away.


Recipe for disaster!

Today, the members of Alberta’s Samson Indian Reserve are voting on a referendum that would allow the Chief and council to have residents of the reserve ejected if presented with a petition signed by 25 residents. It is understandable how people in Hobbema are getting desperate. The reserve is a virtual war zone with violent crime levels that rival any major city and conditions continue to get worse. Gang violence has been exploding and shootings have become rampant. Make no mistake though, empowering the Chief and council to eject people from the reserve is not the solution!

 Here is a link to the proposed bylaw that members are voting on today.

 For some background, the Samson is one of four bands that make up the reserves surrounding Hobbema. Infighting and corruption have led to many reserves such as this and the Stoney for example to keep splitting into more reserves within reserves. The fighting, waste and duplication of services caused by this trend is fodder for a whole different posting.

 The Hobbema reserves are likely the richest in all of Canada having received hundreds of millions of dollars in energy revenues on top of typical federal transfers. The affluence considered to be largely at the root of many of the reserves social problems according to one councilor here.  I don’t doubt that Saddleback is right on many counts. Poverty however tends to lead to crime and social problems just as effectively as prosperity. The problem as usual comes down to the utter failure of the entire Indian reserve concept.

 The Samson reserve also holds a strong reputation for corruption on the part of their band leadership. Jean Allard documented it very well on page 144 here. People lived in poverty while the band leadership pulled in 6 figure salaries and more. This is unfortunately common on many reserves. Much more recently questions were asked about the disposition of funds to that reserve (with few answers).

 The concept of self-government was a well meaning but terribly naive concept that has only led to the fast evolution of corrupt fiefdoms across Canada. There are certainly are some band councils that have only the well being of their members in mind with their actions. Many more reserves however have had the bandits rise quickly to the top forming small local dictatorships where band resources get directed to the connected while others live in abject poverty. Tales of intimidation and electoral rigging in band elections are unfortunately common.

 In light of this, it is very clear that the last thing that the Samson reserve (or any other reserve for that matter) should do is empower their Chief and council to eject members from the reserve.

 I strongly suggest that people read the proposed bylaw in detail and see how terribly flawed this document is.

 With an extremely low bar, a petition of only 25 people is all that is required to start the ejection process. That is a very small number for a council to round up should they want to. This allows people to petition based on any sort of whim as well. Anybody who has spent time on reserves knows that they are unfortunately hotbeds of gossip and internal squabbling. It is very easy to see how mobs will begin targeting people they suspect with petitions based on little to no evidence of wrongdoing. All of the final say is based on the opinion of 2/3 of council.

 There are some conditions in petitioning that appear to set a fair bar in expecting some proof of criminal activity in order to start the process. Unfortunately the statement below allows for easy abuse.  

“(d) there are reasonable grounds to believe that the presence of the person on the reserve presents or would present a danger to the health or safety of the community.”

 The term “reasonable grounds” is a very subjective term. The bylaw calls for the appointment of a “Registrar of Residents” and a “Residency Tribunal” of three people to oversee the system.

 Outcomes determined by the aforementioned appointees will be presented to the Chief and Council for consideration when a person is being considered for eviction from the reserve.

 The bottom line is that the entire authority to evict residents lands directly on the Chief and Council. They will appoint everybody else in the process and only need a 2/3 vote to evict.

 Should as many as 2/3 of the council happen to be a little corrupt, look at how grossly empowered they are now. People can be targeted in areas that did not vote for them in the last election. People who speak up can be evicted. People can be evicted on a whim to make room for friends to move into the residences. As with so many bylaws on reserves, there is simply no means of oversight or control to keep the law from being abused by those in authority.

 Children as young as 13 years of age can be evicted on a whim by the Chief and Council under this law. That very well could be an effective way to get rid of an entire family as many mothers would of course go with their children.

 There are some huge issues facing Hobbema and reserves all over Canada. Further empowering band councils like this is not the solution. All this is doing is risking a small scale civil war on the reserve.

 I do hope that the residents are wise enough to reject this concept in today’s vote. The citizens are frightened and desperate however and I fear that they may vote in favor of this without realizing the potential consequences.

Think of it this way, would you like to see Calgary’s city council empowered to fully eject you from the city with no compensation based only on the opinion of 2/3 of them? I know that I haven’t exactly endeared myself with Calgary’s council and I bet at least 25 people would have been more than happy to petition for my removal. Why is such a scenario out of consideration for the rest of us but may be acceptable on reserves? We can’t accept this for anybody. I hope that courts or somebody somehow intervenes before this disaster gets too far should residents choose this path.

 I pray to FSM every day to see a light at the end of the tunnel for the natives on reserves in Canada. Sadly the light appears to be traveling in the opposite direction and things just keep getting worse.


Fired for being effective.

 Well folks, I guess we really shouldn’t be all that surprised.

 As a reward for being one of the few people in city hall who is actually doing their job, city auditor Tracy McTaggart has been fired.

 This is third-world style politics people and it is nothing short of disgusting. McTaggart exposed the gross mismanagement and possible outright fraud that has been happening under the watch of our current  city council and now she has been fired for it.

 We need to find out which aldermen voted to fire McTaggart and assure that these people are fired in this fall’s civic election.

 What have these aldermen to hide?

 Sorry folks. I can only conclude that those aldermen who fear the auditor are hiding corruption. Their fear of transparency proves that they have something to hide. The next auditor (should we get another one) will not be able to do their job as they know that they will be fired for doing so.

 Calgary needs a true and comprehensive, outside audit ASAP before the paper-shredders can get too far.