Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Do the PCs think we're stupid? Alison Redford resigns as a PC MLA

"See! There's no one on that plane, Dave."  (not actual quote)
Premier Dave Hancock with former premier Alison Redford, who stepped down during this legislature session, in a FILE PHOTO. (EDMONTON SUN/File)
One minute you're flying around on a plane with your daughter and only a few people on it while looking forward to your new Premier's Palace on top of the refurbished Federal Building in Edmonton, then the next you're told to step down or more allegations will surface, and soon, of what we already knew, the auditor general reports you've really really been abusing your flight expenses, and staffers were making up people to be on those flights.

Oh, but you thought there were always more people on those flights.  Riiight.

No longer will Alison Redford, now known as the worst premier in Alberta's history (Canada too?), have her name and face on the side of the party bus.  She's been thrown under it.   No longer premier and now no longer MLA (not like she was showing up anyway), and now the RCMP are going to investigate.

Such is life in the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta.

What perfect timing too though, eh?  They should thank Redford for this nice distraction.

Nice distraction?  From what?  What do I mean?

Let us not forget how this party built up a coalition of ATA and AUPE folks to vote for them and Redford in the last election by promising money and stuff only to have them turn around and stab them in the backs by freezing their wages and benefits.  But then. THEN! Then just a couple weeks ago, these PCs quietly turn around again and GIVE THEMSELVES THE VERY SAME RAISE those employees were to get.

Did you vote for the PCs last election?  Nice going.

PCAA president, (who cares what his name is), then says it was Redford's "personal choices that led to her demise".

Was it really?  Do you really think we're that stupid?  Did any of you do anything to stop it while it was happening?  And while it was happening, how did you not know?  Seriously, Doug Horner, how did you not know?  You're the provincial treasurer.  Are you that incompetent too?  You must be since the province has been mired in deficits and debt for many many years now, yet our population and tax base have increased well over other provinces.  Not only that, but Albertans are working longer hours than before.

Don't let the PCs fool you.  Don't let leadership "newcomer" Prentice, McIver or Lukazuk convince you it's going to be different under their watch.  It's not just about Redford's "personal choices".  It's the entire culture of entitlement of that party and total disregard for taxpayer's money and voting support.  The wink wink.  The nudge nudge.

It's the same party that allowed school boards and towns to pay for party fundraising dinners without any accountability on these illegal donations.

It's the same party that's been in government for 43 years.

It's the same party that elected Alison Redford as leader.

It's the same party that just might think we're stupid and won't notice.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Duffy Senate Expense Scandal - The RCMP Report

Despite the overblown rhetoric from the opposition and media, this article speaks for itself and why I continue to defend the Prime Minister regarding the Mike Duffy Senate Expense Scandal.

From the RCMP Report...

"The evidence I have viewed suggest that the Prime Minister was informed by his staff that they were working on a plan to have Senator Duffy repay expenses," concludes Corporal Horton on page 70, but "I have seen no evidence to suggest that the Prime Minister was personally involved in the minutiae of these matters." And then, a page later: "I am not aware of any evidence that the Prime Minister was involved in the repayment or reimbursement of money to Senator Duffy or his lawyer."
Read the article about the entire issue here:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What Justin Trudeau said...

I honestly fear if this guy gets in, what he'll do to f-up the economy where so much progress has been made since the economic crisis.  He has no clue how an economy works.  Let's look at some real intelligent things he's said over the past several years, shall we?

"Canada isn't doing well right now because it's Albertans who control our community and socio-democratic agenda. It doesn't work...I'm a Liberal, so of course I think so, yes. Certainly when we look at the great prime ministers of the 20th century, those that really stood the test of time, they were MPs from Quebec. There was Trudeau, there was Mulroney, there was Chrétien, there was Paul Martin. We have a role. This country, Canada, it belongs to us." -Interview in French on the Télé-Québec program Les Francs-tireurs, November 2010
So Canada isn't doing well in 2010, it belongs to Quebec, Albertans control all communities in Canada including the socio-democratic agenda, and Paul Martin stood the test of time?  Ok, got it.  Wow.

"I always say that if, at a given time, I believed that Canada was really the Canada of Stephen Harper, and that we were going against abortion, that we were going against gay marriage, that we were moving backwards in 10,000 different ways, maybe I would think of wanting to make Quebec a country," he said. "Oh yes, absolutely. If I no longer recognized Canada, I know my own values very well." - Radio-Canada interview, February 14, 2012
Well, we're not going against abortion, gay marriage, or backwards, especially economically.  But this blogger has no issue of Quebec being a separate country like Trudeau appears to want despite national progress.

"I voted to keep the firearms registry a few months ago and if we had a vote tomorrow I would vote once again to keep the long-gun registry. However, the definition of a failed public policy is the fact that the long-gun registry is no more. . . . The fact is, because it was so deeply divisive for far too many people, it no longer exists." - Toronto Star, December 3, 2012
What the..?  So you'd vote again to keep a failed, deeply divisive policy?

"But there is no question that this happened because there is someone who feels completely excluded. Completely at war with innocents. At war with a society. And our approach has to be, where do those tensions come from? ...But we also need to make sure that as we go forward, that we don't emphasize a culture of fear and mistrust. Because that ends up marginalizing even further those who already are feeling like they are enemies of society." -April 2013
So here he's trying to sympathize with the Boston terrorists by saying "there's no question"?  Wow, he's some kind of sociologist here, isn't he?

"There's a level of admiration I actually have for China. Their basic dictatorship is actually allowing them to turn their economy around on a dime." - November 8, 2013 
Admiration? Basic dictatorship?  It allows them to turn their economy around?  Have you seen the huge ghost cities, the massive human rights violations?  Your dad was buddies with the murdering commie Castro, it's no wonder you have an affinity for Communist China.

And thankfully, these types of quotes and thoughts aren't the beginning.  He appears to not have the intelligence to be leader of a party, let alone an entire country.

Quotes from:
Picture from: (may not be original source)

Monday, October 21, 2013

I voted for the smartest person

Don Iveson.  Folks from all ideologies seem to be rallying around his positive campaign. It's not the rallying for me but the positivity and optimism that I also feel about this great city that has all the potential. I don't just want a steward, a manager, or a nit picker, but a real thinker, who applies common sense. 

Diotte had my vote but his campaign got off the rails not once but many times. As an armchair political strategist, there were just too many things that went wrong and it indicated to me that if one can't manage and get their own campaign message on track, how about city?

Campaigns matter.  Leibovici's appeared  to be too well funded and the shots of negativity from her camp did not sit well with me. Don's was funded by developers too but it's also big time grassroots.  Most of my politico friends from every federal and provincial party here around my age group were actively on his team and giving big endorsements. It was all positive and good energy.

Don's stance and vote switch on the arena deal matched my view exactly. 

He's the only councillor to spearhead small business initiatives and knows how to bring everyone together from all viewpoints.  And the only one with the foresight to bring sewers and drainage to be a forefront issue.

He's also a strong family man and that means something to me, even though I'm single.

And you know what?  Calgary can't be the only city to have a young, hip mayor. We need an articulate, smart champion for Edmonton to show to those people and businesses who are thinking about moving here can see us as modern, intelligent, exciting, and relevant city.

In my view, Iveson is the best of the candidates that truly represents Edmonton and me.


Seriously. Go to candidate websites, read their policies and views, and then vote. Edmonton had a 33% turnout last time and I suspect it will be a bit more being that there are more candidates running and we get to select a new mayor.

So where am I at?  In the last day, my support has bounced around all three mayoral candidates.  I've never been this torn about voting in my whole life. It's usually crystal clear to me.

The Issues:

These issues that I'm considering and that have different weighting and priority for me and they're not listed in any particular order. I'll put who I think has the advantage on the issues.

  • Downtown. I live, work, and play downtown and I've seen the great progress over the last six years and it's very exciting. Being a huge Oilers fan, I'm excited about the new arena project and especially the location and how closely it's connected with the business core (two blocks from my office) and 104 Street Promenade.  Street patio and food truck deregulation has been fantastic.  The urbanization plans for West-Rossdale are very exciting too.
    Advantage:  none, as all projects are moving ahead and all supported one thing or another.
  • Drainage. While we still need more affordable middle-class housing downtown to slow the continued urban sprawl.  That said, our sewers and drainage are taking a toll with the massive influx of new condos and people to downtown. Major upgrades need to happen.
    Advantage:  Iveson.
  • Taxes. Will they ever not go up?  I know how some of the city managers work building empires within the bureaucracy and how backwards budgeting is.  A serious full audit needs to be done here but it'll have to come from council and a strong fiscally-minded mayor.
    Advantage:  Diotte, Leibovici.
  • Debt. We're playing catch-up and thankfully, interest rates are low.  Better to borrow and spend now then later when costs are more than the interest we're paying now.  Wish we did this back in the 90's.
    Advantage:  Iveson.
  • LRT.  Edmonton used to lead the way for cities under a million.  Calgary is way ahead of us.
    Advantage:  Iveson, Leibovici.
  • Capital Region provincial tax distribution.  The City of Edmonton is getting screwed by the size of the surrounding cities and their use of our city without paying taxes.
    Advantage:  Leibovici, Iveson.
  • Attracting business, jobs, and people.  This is a big priority and core to the economy.  Edmonton has lots of jobs out there, but we're actually lacking skilled people for many industries.  Post-secondary schools, industry, the province and city need to do more and work together more here to ensure we have the right graduates who can easily transition into the skilled workforce.  This area requires a lot of vision.
    Advantage:  Iveson.
  • Roads and infrastructure.  Advantage:  Diotte.
Campaign grades, experience, vision and perceived ideology:

  • Kerry Diotte:  C-
    • "Diotte or Detroit"?  Bad bad bad idea. Anti-arena type TV ad at local business was also not smart which gave it a negative feeling campaign.
    • 3 years on council, city beat journalist for over 20 years. Knows the city well.
    • Libertarian-conservative
  • Don Iveson:  A
    • Positive, upbeat, and feel-good... folks from all ideologies working on campaign.
    • 6 years on council
    • Best vision
    • Progressive-liberal
  • Karen Leibovici:  B-
    • Dull campaign despite lots of money.  Signs and advertisements everywhere.
    • Many years on council, as an MLA, and president of Canadian Municipalities
    • Blue-liberal

My vote:

Well, I thought this exercise in getting this all down would help.  It only confused me more.  I've got about 4 hours to decide.  I wonder how many voters will not vote because of the difficulty in the decision.

Do I go with my gut, my brain, or my gut brain?  Do I stick to my ideology or go off?  Does ideology even matter when most of all, you need the ability to build consensus?

So I think I'll have to have a couple Guinness and decide because right now, I can't.

But please vote!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Edmonton Civic Election 2013 - A look at the 3 main mayoral candidates

I'll be honest, I haven't paid as close attention to this race as I should.  Why?  Because I'd be satisfied with any of the three mayoral front-runners leading this city over at least the next six years.  Now why do I say that?  I don't dislike any of them.  I liked at lot of their work on council.  They each have distinct positive qualities that are appealing and some drawbacks.  I think a big drawback for all of us is we're not going to see two of them on council for the next three years.  I'm leaning toward one of these candidates but having a closer look at another.

Let's also keep in mind that I've lived in Edmonton my whole life, have travelled to many cities in the U.S. and have seen how things are done and not done well as far as roads, taxes, transit, services, building a downtown core, drawing business and growing an economy, etc.

Anyway, let's look at the three candidates now from MY view (in alphabetical order):

Kerry Diotte
- Knows this city from a grassroots view
- King of the pothole issue -- a major issue
- Anti-arena deal from a taxpayer view, but not anti-arena
- Strong fiscal conservative
- Anti-bike -- he's got good points on the value here with our weather
- Anti-bike -- he lost the bike vote, oh no!
- Perceived as fully anti-arena
- Campaign stunts are too gimmicky and lame - "Diotte or Detroit?" Anti-arena TV commercial at Blue Plate fiasco. Seriously? Who approved those?
- Didn't seem to work well with others on council
- Even Lorne Gunter isn't supporting him

Don Iveson

- Although a family man for a while, perceived as youthful and energetic
- Articulate and has vision
- Only candidate to really talk about sewers and drainage in downtown and surrounding area as a major infrastructure issue.
- Very smart politically
- Too fiscally progressive/liberal. I see him as similar to Nenshi in Calgary.  He doesn't seem like the kind of mayor who'd put his foot down hard on tax increases.  Also, what I've seen in Alberta is a strong political movement of progressives taking over civically. 
- Maybe should have stayed on council

Karen Leibovici 
- Supposed fiscal-hawk
- Tonnes of experience in provincial and civic politics
- Former President/Chair of Canadian/Alberta Council of Cities something or other (look it up yourself)
- Woman - Yep, I'm saying it. She wouldn't be the first though.
- Liberal, but a blue-liberal
- Not all that inspiring
- Huge backing from developers who are funding her campaign with lots of cash. This means influence buying and it stinks.

I think Karen will win with about 40-45%. I said it from the beginning.  Don will get 30-35%, Kerry 20-25%, and the rest to other side candidates.  That said, I think Don probably has the best grassroots ground team that have been with him for many years now and haven't left.

Notable Councillor Candidates off the top of my head:

- WARD 6 (Downtown):  Dexx Williams - former policeman.  He's currently got my vote for this ward.  His policy is very thorough and smart.

- WARD 11 (Southeast):  Mike Nickel - businessman. He's back. He's got experience. He knows a lot about the city's finances and where efficiencies can be made.  And let's not forget, he was a big promoter and coordinator of LRT expansion BEFORE it was a really sexy issue.  His TV commercial is very good.

So there you have it, folks.  Maybe more on this later if anything comes up.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Why Vladimir Putin is the smartest politician of our time

Russian President Vladimir Putin has opined a public letter "A Plea for Caution" in regards to the Syrian conflict-- particularly addressing American military posturing and intervention, its implications to further widespread conflict and how it plays within the United Nations Security Council international law framework.

It is extremely well written and thought-out and convinced me that President Putin is one of the smartest domestic and international politicians of our time.

As a former KGB guy in the Soviet regime, Putin moved up the ranks eventually with Boris Yeltsin appointing him head of the KGB successor agency, then deputy prime minister, and Yeltsin's endorsement to run for the presidency. When Yeltsin stepped down, Putin became acting president, forgave any potential corruption charges on Yeltsin's family, then ran in the election three months later which he did and handily won in the first ballot with 53%.

From 2000-2008, he remained president with a 71% vote in 2004. Due to Russian law, similar to American term limits, Putin could not run again, but was appointed by his successor, Dimitry Medvedev, as prime minister.  Medvedev did not run again in 2012 but Putin did and here we are again.

It is rare for leaders to return to high office after a stint away.  In Canada, John A. Macdonald, Arthur Meighen, William Lyon Mackenzie King, and Pierre Trudeau have done it.  The United Kingdom has seen many returning PMs in its long-standing democracy, but the most recent being Churchill.

One could argue the Americans have been dominated by the Bush and Clinton families, especially with Hillary expected to make a run in 2016.

Putin has danced with the idea of extending terms to six years and many have deemed this undemocratic. But look at the American election cycle every four years.  The fundraising and quiet campaigns before the primaries begin a year after the last election, then the year of lead up to the primaries, and then the election itself.  BILLIONS were spent.  Americans are exhausted of these cycles.  And I haven't even discussed the midterm congressional elections every two years for portions of the house and senate.  Elections have become a massive industry in the U.S.  In Canada, not even close, and I prefer that--short and sweet, and in all honesty, we really haven't had a truly, really bad prime minister.  I'm basically saying we get good value for the little amount of cash we put into it here.

So, in this sense, it would be hypocritical for Western democracies to criticize Putin for making the return to power within the Russian democratic framework, despite strong allegations of widespread election fraud--not that a similar approach with voter ID isn't happening in the U.S., and me personally seeing questionable practices in Canada as a scrutineer.

As such, Putin is dead right in arguing against President Obama's claim of "American exceptionalism".  You can hear the rest of world right now in agreement with Vlad, including many Americans who didn't buy it either.  I have certainly argued a similar stance.

As much as I travel in the U.S. for work and enjoyment, and have American friends in the military and in political groups, including elected office, I believe Canada to be even more exceptional than the U.S.  Is it bias?  Damn right it is!  But that's my point.  Too many times I hear "America is the greatest country on the planet ever". Is it?  I haven't seen one single global ranking that says so.  Their cities and quality of life, as much as I really enjoy many of them, fall behind other countries, including Canada.  There's no doubt of America's economic #1 ranking, but their government is so beyond debt, they'd have to dismantle the government and start over to get back in the black, whereas Canada has been the ranked #1 in government finances for six years running.

Anyway, I digress. My point of this blog post is not to delve into all the detail of the Syrian conflict--it's beyond complicated. My point is to highlight the boldness of Vladimir Putin in his political career.  He just doesn't seem to ever lose at anything.  There are countless more examples.  I don't trust Vladimir Putin one bit, especially in his political dealings with my family's home country of Ukraine, but he continues to win.  His letter notably points out all the Middle East conflicts where the American military hasn't really won.

Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" is littered with applicable quotes to this conflict:

  • "The best victory is when the opponent surrenders of its own accord before there are any actual hostilities... It is best to win without fighting."
  • "It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperilled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperilled in every single battle."
  • "When able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near."
  • "There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare."
  • “Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory is won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.” 

We all know the Russians arm the Syrian Assad government, but Putin's logic flaw is implying that terrorists were the ones who staged the chemical weapon attack, not the Assad government forces.

If that's the case, then why is it necessary to work out a deal to confiscate and destroy those weapons from the Assad regime?

The U.S. still feels compelled to respond and punish Assad's use of chemical weapons, whereas Putin knows the UN Security Council isn't going to do anything here anyway because he has a veto on it.

Either way, Putin still wins, Obama loses.

And that's why my friends, like it or not, Vladimir Putin is the smartest politician of our time.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Alberta .05 BAC law: no impact?

The Calgary Stampede drunk driving charge numbers are only slightly down to 90 from 96 last year, and even then attendance was down obviously from the flooding.

Also, the gov't was making us believe that their laws were having an impact by using a statistic trick. They took the declining trend average of the last five years and then said that the number of drunk driving deaths between July and December 2012 was below that average, yet those numbers were already part of the declining trend.

The Alberta PC gov't is not being honest here and trying to show that their laws are having some sort of impact on impaired driving.  However, the numbers show that even despite a population boom over the past six years, the total number of deaths, not just the per capita rate, is declining in the right direction, implying that Albertans themselves have already been making responsible choices for years--without the nanny-state PC government.  Meanwhile, they've now permitted police to seize your vehicular property on the spot for three days even though you haven't committed a crime, yet continue to hand keys back to repeat offenders.

h/t Dave Breakenridge

Thursday, August 08, 2013

CRTC denies Sun News Network

Time to dissolve the useless CRTC.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Alberta justice: guilty until proven innocent

Some statistics have been released on Alberta's new "tough" drunk driving laws and the province says they're "promising".

Firstly, this is not enough of a proper data set to make a statement like that.

Secondly, there were 770 three-day vehicle seizures for people blowing between .05 and .08.  Remember, these people have not committed a crime as they did not blow over .08 as per the Canada Criminal Code, but the Alberta government has assumed they have the right to seize your property.  The interesting thing is, with the new law, whether you blow between .05 or .08 or if you blow over .08, your vehicle is seized for three days regardless.  So doesn't that imply a similar offence?  Before, if you blew over .08 you received an automatic 24-hour suspension but your vehicle was not seized.  Now it's three days for over .05.

Thirdly, what the province hasn't addressed is the real problem--repeat offenders.  You've heard the stories of drunk drivers being convicted multiple times only to be allowed back on the road multiple times.

Also, there is not enough conclusive evidence to show that drivers causing death or accidents had a BAC between .05 and .08.  So why .05?  Why not .04?  Who determined that .05 is the standard or did the Alberta PC gov't just copy what BC was doing?

Thankfully, the law is being challenged in court as to its violation of the fundamentals of our justice system--that is, you're being presumed guilty until proven innocent.

"Lawyer Fred Kozak is involved in a constitutional challenge of that aspect of the new law in Court of Queen's Bench this December. The challenge claims automatic licence suspensions are unconstitutional because they violate the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. "Is it fair to punish people prior to their trial?"
What the new law appears to be admitting is that the province has not put their foot down with those who blow over .08 and especially the repeat offenders to send that message to drivers who get behind the wheel after a bunch of drinks.

Let's admit what it is, it's a smoke screen law, supposedly to be a preventative measure, and it allows police to be judge and executioner on the spot without due process, and now the government is releasing selected statistics to show that they're doing something to curb drinking and driving without addressing the real issues.

To me, what would be a fairer, more applicable compromise law is if someone blows .05-.08 using the roadside Breathalyzer, that they receive a 24-hour license suspension, get around 8 demerits like a normal traffic violation, and a $500 fine, you know, like speeders or bad drivers.  If it happens again within a period, then your license is suspended for a year, and you then need to take a driving class and get a road test again.
What are your thoughts?