Alberta’s Liberal Panel.

 I guess we should be happy that Stelmach has realized that he is incapable of managing Alberta’s government and economy. Special Ed has taken it upon himself to appoint a panel to take over where he has failed. Unfortunately,  Stelmach has appointed people on the same caliber of foresight and intelligence as himself.

 To begin with Ed has chosen Anne McLellan. Remember her? The former LIBERAL deputy prime minister who was integral in implementing the $2 billion dollar gun registry. Yes, this is clearly a mind of fiscal wisdom. Anne was an integral part of Chretien’s regime.

 Next is David Dodge. Dodge was the LIBERAL appointed head of the Bank of Canada. He was an integral part of Chretien’s regime.

 Adding to the list is David Emerson. This is the LIBERAL MP opportunist who quit his own party in order to get into Harper’s cabinet. Emerson was too cowardly to face the electorate after his appointment and sniveled away in less than two years rather than face the electorate again after having crossed the floor.  

 By the way, Emerson is from Montreal, Dodge is from Toronto and Anne is from Nova Scotia. One would think that after putting tens of thousands out of work that Ed could find some local talent. Ed sure has tapped the bastion of federal Liberals anyway.

 Albertans think that they elected a conservative? Look where Special Ed will be getting his advice now;?

 Federal Liberals who could not make the grade are now Ed Stelmach’s braintrust.


Things are looking good.

At least they are from a partisan point of view if you are a Wildrose Alliance Party supporter.

The financial numbers for the parties (at least most of them) were published yesterday and some changes are evident on the Alberta political landscape.

Liberals $437,690.00 Deficit
NDP $408,628.00 Deficit
WAP $1,622.95 Deficit
PC’s $1,976,577.00 Surplus

 Or in fundraising terms Braid said it well in his article:

 “The Wildrose Alliance enjoyed a real surge in fundraising last year, collecting nearly $1 million. The new party emerged from 2008 with a deficit of only $1,622.95.

That’s really good, actually. Any opposition party so close to being debt free is a big winner on Alberta’s loser circuit.”

 Now this does have to be taken with a grain of salt. Yes, the WAP is leading on the “loser circuit” but we are indeed still on that circuit.

 Trends in electoral support in Alberta are finally showing some signs of change however. The most striking right now is in fundraising. The PCs remain a powerhouse in that regard making six-figures in interest from their party savings alone. The party in power will always maintain a degree of contributions as interest groups contribute in hopes of gaining the favor of the ruling party. In light of Stelmach’s abuse of Alberta’s business community though, we can already see a shift in corporate donations leaving the PC party. With Stelmach leading Alberta into her first deficit in 15 years in a few days, I suspect that many grassroots supporters will be re-evaluating their choice to cut a cheque to the PC party in the future as well.

 The Alberta Liberal Party is mired in debt and is now closing their Edmonton office and laying off staff. The sharp swing to the left the party took with the choice of David Swann has costed them greatly. Lets face it, the remaining supporters are socialists. Socialists don’t dig into their pockets to support causes, they demand that others dig into their pockets. Sadly, that strategy is an utter failure when it comes to political fundraising. The ALP will be further challenged in maintaining a membership and province wide organization as they have no staff to do the task.

 The NDP has cracked the nut of socialist fundraising by having unions do the job for them (reaching into the pockets of others as usual). A little bit from most every union member’s union dues gets diverted to the provincial and federal NDP coffers. The NDP only appeals to a small segment of the extreme left however and that small segment will be further split as David Swann works to coax those few socialist votes. While the NDP has a steady and forced income stream from union contributions, they still manage their funds as socialists do and are deeply in debt.

 The numbers for the Green Party are currently unavailable as the party appears to have completely imploded. The Greens have what appears to be two sets of leaders and boards who will not transfer documents between them making it impossible to file their financials. Meanwhile, another of their leading members has grabbed a group of supporters and marched off to try and form yet another provincial party. The Green Party is looking likely to be de-registered and will be unlikely to be of any consequence in the next provincial election if indeed they exist at all.

 Now on to the Wildrose Alliance Party. 2008 was a very challenging yet productive year for us. From our roots in the Alberta Alliance Party we have greatly evolved and matured as a political party and it is showing in our organization and fundraising. We pragmatically merged with the Wildrose Group to avoid voter confusion and division and took a strong stand in support of Alberta’s economy and business community. Our policies and participants have moderated over the years allowing us to gain support from a wider spectrum and to attract serious donors seeking to bring an alternative party to the PCs on to the Alberta political landscape.

 While we did raise close to a million dollars in 2008 and finished that fiscal year $1,600 in debt, we had exceptional challenges to face that year. For one, our party had a debt that we retired. No longer will we be wasting money on interest charges. The Wildrose Group we merged with came with some $56,000 in liabilities that we absorbed, and of course we entered the 2008 general election which was a huge expense.

 Money is not everything in politics of course. If fundraising alone were all that mattered we surely would have fared much better in the general election. The election unfortunately came within weeks of our merger with the Wildrose Group and it was difficult for the newly merged entity to organize and effectively fight an election on such short notice. Our general organization on the ground as far as constituency associations was not very good at all and that is critical in campaigning.

 What we did gain from the 2008 election was a re-introduction to Albertans. Many learned of us for the first time in that election and learned that we are indeed a moderate alternative for consideration. Experience as a whole was gained by those involved with the party and while the election was not a success in terms of votes, it most certainly was a grand success in terms of growth of the party.

 Fundraising is continuing to roll along in unprecedented levels for us as a party. What is different in 2009 however is that we do not have the challenges that we faced in 2008. There are no complicated and expensive mergers on the horizon, there is no election on the horizon, and we have no debt to service or pay off. Our funds can now be fully dedicated to the growth and organization of the party and we are doing so.

 The Wildrose Alliance Party is now employing a full-time administrator. This alone is an incredible boon to the party. Relying solely on volunteers for such duties is difficult and costly to the party as a whole. A party needs a person to answer the phone during business hours and give quick replies to inquiries whether from the press, members or constituency organizers. Having somebody able to dedicate full time lets us organize events and lends timely support to organizers in other parts of the province. Membership renewals are explosive for us now in comparison to past years as we have somebody to follow up on lapses and new memberships are greatly on the rise as we have somebody to quickly respond to new inquiries. This position is essentially self-funding once begun though it takes a fair chunk in the bank to get it going. From this move alone we can look forward to increased growth and organization in the years to come.

 Meetings are being held across the province to promote the party and to learn from people on the ground what their concerns are. The reciprocal manner of these meetings makes them very beneficial to both the party and the attendees as we all learn from each other. It can be easy to lose touch with what the electorate is feeling. The PCs demonstrate that excellently. We have seven meetings scheduled in the next couple months including one at the Calgary Petroleum Club that is already more than half-filled despite having only recently been announced. More are in the works and being scheduled.

 With these meetings comes more organization, more members and more funds. If we continue this trend for the next three years, the Wildrose Alliance Party is going to be a very formidable presence in the next general election. I see no reason why this trend will not continue.

 The Wildrose Alliance Party’s AGM and policy convention will be held on June 6 this year. It is anticipated that a very large slimming and revision of our policy set will be accepted at this meeting. That step in the evolution of our party will bring us much closer to the average Albertan as our current policy set unfortunately is somewhat plagued with duplication and a vague sense of purpose.

 There are many bleak things happening economically and politically in Alberta right now. There is at least one reason for optimism. In three years we may very well see a change in government in Alberta for the first time in nearly 40 years.

It’s bonus season!!

 As we see the economy slip into the tank, as we see layoffs in all sectors, as stress in households grows with decimated retirement portfolios and as we hearthe Stelmach government tell us that they must borrow our grandchildren into debt for lack of room to cut spending, we hear that the Progressive Conservative government of Alberta has handed out $110,000,000 in “achievement” bonuses for senior civil servants in the last 3 years.

 Considering the explosive increases in spending in the last few years, all we can assume is that the rewarded “achievement”  is achieving excellence in creatively pissing away the hard earned tax dollars of Albertans.

 Bonuses can be an effective means of getting better performances from employees. These bonuses only apply to a few thousand of the senior elite in government however. The civil servants working in the trenches don’t see these lucrative perks. Most of this bonus money has gone to deputy ministers who make an average of $250,000 per year and have seen their salaries increase by 61% since 2005.

 Would not those disproportionate raises in the last few years constitute something of a reward for these people already? Apparently not.

 While the government is bound to report the spending on these bonuses in their respective departments, one department is unsurprisingly exempt from disclosure; that is the Alberta Executive Council.

The Executive Council is made up of the Premier and cabinet ministers.

Well Ed, how many perks have you lined your own and the cabinet’s pockets with bonuses? I guess those 30% raises last fall were not enough. Sadly as Albertans we are not allowed to find out these numbers.

 Keep these kinds of things in mind in a couple weeks as the government releases a deficit budget and claims they have no way to avoid budgeting on our collective credit cards.

Property rights? Not in Alberta.


 Actually, we do not have property rights enshrined in our federal charter either. Pierre Trudeau made sure of that.

 Expropriation is a requirement at times for any region under development. Countries with property rights such as the United States still have to take land at times. The enshrinement of property rights obligates governments to assure that full compensation is given to landowners in expropriation situations and that land cannot be taken in a frivolous manner.

 When a province/country lacks property rights, governments may bring in repugnant legislation that attacks the rights of landowners just as the Stelmach government is proposing with Bill 19: The Land Assembly Project Area Act.

 What this odious bill proposes is to give the government carte blanche power to slap a land development restriction on land that they may consider developing in the future.

 Now we know from experience how quickly the Progressive Conservative government moves on development ideas. Why look how they are speeding along with that hospital in South Calgary or the perpetual negotiations on the ring-road.

 Bill 19 proposes no timeline. The government can slap a landowner with a development restriction for a project that may not begin for decades if ever.

 Now, try and imagine what happens to the value of your land if suddenly you find yourself with a development restriction on it. Nobody in their right mind would purchase such land. How useful is your land to you when the government has told you that you may not develop? Not very.

 Of course, in their usual manner of dictatorship the Stelmach government put no protections in the bill for landowner rights, but they sure spelled out the penalties that they will hand out to a landowner who dares do some terrible act such as building a shed on their land.



A person who contravenes an enforcement order under


section 7 is guilty of an offence and liable,

(a) in the case of an individual, to a fine of not more than

$100 000 or to imprisonment for a period of not more than

2 years, or to both a fine and imprisonment, or

(b) in the case of a corporation, to a fine of not more than

$1 000 000.”

 Landowners beware. You may be bankrupted or possibly even jailed for a couple years should you dare defy the Stelmach government and try to alter land that you thought you owned.

 Look at the nifty outcome for the PC government if they get this one. Land can have an order placed on it a decade before development, the land massively depreciates over the decade due to the order and then when the government indeed does expropriate they can pay the landowner a tiny fraction of the original value of the land.

 Only real property rights may protect us from such government incursions upon us. The PCs certainly would never consider supporting such an initiative. Left-leaning parties such as the Liberals and NDP have traditionally never supported property rights for individuals. Only the Wildrose Alliance Party has has a policy to entrench property rights in an Alberta Bill of Rights. I strongly suggest to anybody who wants to protect the rights of Albertans to take out a membership with the Wildrose Alliance and get to work to rid Alberta of this increasingly disconnected government.







Fixed election dates.

 Fixed election dates are a simple and basic electoral reform that should have been instituted generations ago. When I speak to American friends about our system that allows Premiers and Prime Ministers to call elections whenever they please, the response from those I have spoken to is invariably astonishment.

 A lack of fixed election dates is an affront to basic democracy. Having the power to choose the date of an election gives a governing party an incredible advantage thus while many leaders pay lip service to the issue on the way up, the leaders quickly forget their commitments upon achieving power. Klein used to revel in his cute hints about making election calls and watching opposition parties scramble in efforts to prepare for an election that often never came. Stelmach is enjoying the same power as was demonstrated in the months of election speculation that began in Alberta last fall and continued until an election was finally called last spring.

 Alberta’s Chief Electoral Officer released 182 recommendations for Alberta’s electoral process yesterday. The scorn with which Stelmach rejected the concept of fixed election dates was insulting in his arrogance. In a petulant way, Stelmach gladly accepted handing off added responsibilities to the Chief Electoral officer. The prior appointments of returning officers by the governing party was a joke and even Stelmach could see that. Stelmach is happily accepting of increased advertising controls at election time as well. Stelmach is still bitter about those union commercials that were mean to him in the last election and in his usual anti-democratic ways is pursuing gag-law legislation.

 The increased responsibilities given to the Chief Electoral Officer are a good thing, but it will be difficult for him to act upon them without fixed election dates. I truly do not envy the task that Alberta’s elections staff have. Elections get called unexpectedly and elections Alberta has less than a month to arrange the hiring and management of enough people to conduct and election in 83 constituencies. This is a nearly impossible task considering Alberta’s labor shortage. It is little wonder that there was mass confusion at the polls in last spring’s election. It is not like a hiring and training program can be implemented when the election date is unknown.

 Fixed election dates would greatly improve the preparation for and management of elections. Special Ed clearly will not implent that simple and critical electoral reform. Stelmach has already demonstrated a trend of protecting his power jealously.

 When rejecting fixed election dates, Stelmach snapped that it would have no impact on voter turnout. Voter turnout alone is not the reason we need this reform. To put it simply, fixed election dates are needed for a proper democratic system. One thing that is leading to our dismal voter turnouts is increasing voter cynicism due to being lied to by their elected leaders. Stelmach barely got out of the gate as Premier before flip-flopping on the promise to reduce cabinet to 17 members. Special Ed quickly learned that the plum of cabinet appointments is his best method of caucus control. The more cabinet positions Stelmach has, the more incentive MLAs have to kiss the Premier’s ass.

 Harper’s reversal on his commitment to fixed election dates did little to instill faith in the electorate. Harper’s shaky excuse of having a dysfunctional parliament hardly cuts it. Joe Clark proved what happens when a minority leader acts as if he has a majority. Harper could very well have simply governed as he pleased and called every vote a confidence vote. In that case, either his bills would be passed (parliament would have been functional), or the opposition would bring the government down and Harper would get the election that he desired without breaking the spirit of his own law. Using the aforementioned strategy would have taken the power from Harper’s hands to have an election when it best benefits his own party however thus he simply ignored his own commitments and dissolved parliament.

 As somebody who has ran in a few elections I have always had to deal with hearing people spout about how all politicians are the same and how all politicians are liars. I do not agree with that assessment, but our examples in our legislatures certainly do not make it easy to counter the assertions of the bitter. It is up to the electorate to vote out politicians when they lie to us. Rest assured if enough MLAs and MPs lose their jobs over the course of a couple elections, we will see a great change in attitude among those elected. Sadly, instead of taking an increased role in democracy as we need them to, many voters are simply sinking into a cynical funk and are not voting at all. It is a sad and dangerous trend for us all.

 While I generally loath Canada’s version of Pravda (the CBC), one gem the CBC does retain is Rex Murphy. Murphy stands up for free speech and does not hesitate to be critical of any party when it is warranted whether Liberal or Conservative. He sums up Harper’s flip-flop quite well.