Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Canadian Election 2015 - Harper will win

. #cdnelxn2015 #cdnpoli

Here is a smattering of my observations from the cheap seats on the campaign so far and then why I think Harper will win.

- Few are talking about this election or really paying attention to the policy announcements--especially Joe and Jane Frontporch.  When the kids go back to school, people will start paying more attention.  Look for the parties to reiterate their policy announcements, saving the big ones for the last few weeks.

- The Duffy trial has been in front of any other leaders' announcements, including Harper's.  Now that the trial has adjourned until November and after the election in October, the opposition leaders and media will continue to ask questions, but "It's before the courts" you will hear constantly.  The trial dragged on longer than expected as revelations from key witnesses put the whole thing into question.  The trial is being adjourned because the lawyers have other trials to tend to in the meantime--it's not some conspiracy.

- NDP supporters have gone completely batshit on social media.  Many, I know, are in unions and their postings bashing Harper are almost hourly, unjustified, and outright lies.  I say keep it up as you're all looking like a bunch of weenies. With the race this close, soft liberal progressives need to stick with Trudeau and not get lured into Mulcair's van.

- Where is retread Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe?  With no budget, I hear he was cycling.  I always liked him in the debates.

- There isn't any real main issue in this campaign that Mulcair or Trudeau have framed.  The Conservatives have made it about Justin not being ready.  While many are tired of it, it's working, as it's geared toward soft-Conservatives supporters and Blue Liberals who have voted Conservative lately and were thinking of going back.

On the debate... (cricket)... I finally watched the English debate.  Now?  No one remembers much except:
1. Green Party leader Elizabeth May was very good
2. NDP Uncle Tom Mulcair had an awkward smile like he was giving candy to kids (voters?) to lure them into his rainbow van
3. Harper held his own and was calm
4. Trudeau had some good and interesting moments.  When Mulcair asked him about the number for Quebec to separate, finally Trudeau swung back well with "9" in reference to the Supreme Court.  But his closing remarks started off fuzzy wuzzy and ended awkwardly. Some eyebrows were raised that's for sure.

On policy announcements, here's what I remember:
- NDP:  No deficit. Full door-to-door mail service will return. Tax incentives for manufacturing sector. $15 minimum wage for all!  Decriminalize ganja for small amounts.  $15/day daycare.
- Liberals:  Flexible work hours.  Not sure if they'll balance the budget.  Full pension for injured veterans.
- Conservatives:  No one's allowed to travel to Syria or Iraq.  Tax breaks for volunteer/service club memberships.  Raise the amount first-time home-buyers can use part their RSP for a downpayment from $25k to $35k.  Life sentences for serious crimes.

On scandals and odd things:

Conservatives:
- Duffy scandal has completely dominated this election so far.  It's currently resonating with voters, especially the undecided. But I predict the momentum on that will be lost with the trial adjourned until November, and as they turn their attention to Mulcair and Trudeau, they will be paying close attention to what they say.
- A picture of an Atlantic salmon was shown on a graphic talking about conservation of BC fish. Quickly changed.
- Angry old guy yells at media after Harper campaign stop.  Now now.


NDP:
- Alberta NDP Jobs Minister was out campaigning for the NDP in BC while Alberta's economy and jobs are in jeopardy.  Yeesh.
- NDP still haven't paid back the $2.7 million in taxpayer funds used for political offices. In fact, the parliamentary budget office isn't going to honour the campaign expenses until it is paid off.  Look at this to gain momentum, shooting down the credibility of Mulcair and voters thinking they need to kick Harper out by voting NDP.
- A video resurfaced of Mulcair praising British Conservative PM Margaret Thatcher

Liberals:
- Several Liberal nomination races aren't going well. One broke out in a fight.  Other Trudeau hand-picked candidates didn't win.  If you think Trudeau's Liberals are about openness, think again.
- A Calgary candidate had some old tweets about her hair making her look like a 'lesbo' and other things.  She apologized, Trudeau accepted, she resigned.  Moving on.
- Trudeau thinks the economy grows from the heart outward.  Wow.  While he wants to raise taxes on the top 1% (i.e. over $200k/year), and lower taxes for the middle class, maybe he doesn't realize that many middle class families combined incomes are over $200k/year.  They're hardly in the 1%.
- Trudeau's presser with Paul Martin was terrible.  He really has no clue how the economy actually works other than reiterating talking points.  He never really answered the media questions and just spouted middle class, jobs, grow, blah blah.  He has no idea what he's actually talking about and his bobble-head candidates behind him while nodding in unison, didn't actually seemed convinced either.
- Veterans angry with Harper are actually Liberals.

Advice for each campaign:

OVERALL:  It's about the economy, stupid.  It's not going well with oil low, the dollar down to its lowest since 2004, the China crash, etc.  This is what really affects families and jobs.  

Bloc:  Get some donations already.  While Duceppe doesn't have to cover as much ground, get a TV ad going saying that the NDP hasn't delivered.

Greens:  Everyone knows you're about the environment, get May talking about the real economy and balanced budgets--she's good at it.

NDP:  Talk middle class tax cuts like you know what you're talking about, unlike Trudeau.  Because a lot of the high-paying public sector and union families are making over $200k year, you might want to crank the tax increase amount to $200k PER PERSON if you're going to do that.  Talk more on the environment to trump the Greens in BC.  Be more anti-central Canada in Quebec to beat the Bloc.

Liberals:  Justin needs to learn how the economy operates and talk about small business tax cuts to thwart liberals from heading to the NDP who are dissatisfied with Harper.  Say how much you are cutting middle class taxes by (2%? 5%!?).  The "I am ready" ads are awful and your inexperience is showing because you've allowed another party to frame the debate for you.  Separate yourself from the Ontario Wynne Liberals.   The Liberal war room is the shits.

Conservatives:  Stop talking terrorism, ISIS, and crime.  Focus on investment in the economy and tout your comparative record to other G7 countries over and over again.  Remind voters of the tax cut policies already brought in and if they weren't done, families would be worse-off despite an unstable global economy.   Beat Trudeau by reiterating that the middle class has grown and is better off as a result.  Do not say you've cut taxes by millions of dollars--say what the average is that families and individuals have more in their pocket for ALL the policies (GST cut, child care, trade tools write-off, TFSA) and then say how much more they will have if you are re-elected. Beat the NDP by reiterating their shoddy provincial records in BC, AB, SK, MB, ON, and NS.  And wake up CPC war room--you're about two days behind.  Then again, so are voters right now.

My early predictions:

With the number of vote splits on the left, the long-haul campaign dollars totally favouring the Conservatives for TV ads, and that Ontario is still currently slightly favouring the Conservatives, the outcome will be a Conservative minority with a strong NDP opposition.

When the Duffy trial resumes in November, the NDP and Liberals will continue to fire questions and rhetoric at Harper to gauge what the public feeling is and ask him to resign, then potentially spark a vote of non-confidence after the trial is over.

Depending on how the trial goes, if it is too damaging, Harper may resign, but I get a feeling he wouldn't right away.  He'll do it in 1-2 year's time anyway and then watch Saskatchewan's premier Brad Wall take a stab at the leadership and win.

There you have it!  Stay tuned for more insight.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Abolishing the Senate to reform it

In a surprise but no-surprise pre-election move, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall have had a leak that they will jointly announce on Saturday that they will move to abolish the Senate.

With the Conservatives surging ahead in a recent poll to 38% (majority territory), likely boosted by their child care benefit vote buying scheme (I call it like I see it), Canada being voted #1 in international reputation, and despite the thrust of social media vitriol coming from background union, NDP, and Liberal supporters, Harper announcing he would abolish the senate would negate any of bad press that the once popular but now shamed senators, Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau, and Pamela Wallin have stained Harper's machine.

It's a brilliant tactical move and the timing couldn't be better.

And you can't say Harper didn't try to reform the upper chamber.  He did, in a legal backdoor way to promise to appoint the senators elected by the provinces.  But only one province, Alberta, did so.  In essence, that tactic, while noble, didn't work.  None of the other provinces went for it.

There was even a point where I thought Harper was holding back the appointments to naturally equalize the provinces.

Then there's Justin Trudeau, who in one of his first moves as heir leader, symbolically kicked out all of the Liberal senators from the Liberal caucus.  So, it appears the Liberals supposedly don't care about the senate anymore.  Trudeau, anyway.

While I still believe we need an upper house on a federal-scale, it must be elected and equal.  For about 25 years (yeesh!) I have advocated this with each province getting 6 senators for 6 year terms, 3 elected every provincial municipal cycle.  But I think 8 year terms with 3 elected every 4 years makes more logistical sense.  Or look at Australia's senate.  It's quite equal. While I'm not fond of proportional representation as seats are filled by unelected party hacks to make up the difference, a preferential ballot should be looked at and wouldn't be such a bad thing.  Many parties use this method already to elect their leaders.

All other means by which to reform the senate have not worked.  The Charlottetown and Meech Lake Accords didn't work and helped spawn another wave of Quebec separatism.  Harper's plan didn't work either.

Oddly enough, one of the reasons Canada came into being in 1867 in Charlottetown, was that although the senate was to be elected and equal among the four provinces, the deal went down because it wasn't.

In essence, it's time to start over.  Abolish the senate so we can reform it.

It's the only way.  Harper and Wall are on the right track.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

The "Math is Hard" Alberta Election Orange Hangover

 #abpoli #abvote -- After 44 years of one party rule, a majority of Albertans finally had enough of the PCs. with the NDP going from zero seats in 1993 to 53 seats in 2015 and a majority government.

Like Saskatchewan, what we've seen is the crushing of the traditional PC and Liberal parties in Alberta, replaced with new(er) parties.

I've said all along that the NDP should elect Rachel Notley as their leader and move their policies to the middle to be middle-class-friendly.  What we essentially saw was the NDP adopting the original policies of the Lougheed PCs while the PCs under Prentice collapsed with one sentence from the debate, "Math is hard".

Some quick notes from the historical results:


  • The combined Wildrose + PC Party votes were greater than the NDP in 61 ridings (71%) and greater than the NDP + Liberal + Alberta Party combined vote in 53 ridings (61%).  Conservatism is not dead in Alberta, it just suffered under the imputation of vote splitting.
  • Edmonton is completely represented by NDP MLAs, some who are still post-secondary students.  The NDP website has now completely removed the bios of their candidates!
  • The Wildrose got 24% of the vote, the PCs got 28%, but due to the Wildrose smart, focused campaigning in key ridings, they concentrated the vote better and got over twice as many seats as the PCs.
  • The Alberta Party won its first seat with the election of its leader Greg Clark.
  • I have never seen someone win their seat and step down before all the results were in. Jim Prentice stepping down as leader was no surprise, but sticking it to the voters in his riding with another by-election was sad. But we can't say we didn't warn the PCs for their many years of arrogance, entitlement, and mismanagement.
  • Speaking of byelections, every vote counts, folks.  There was a tie in Calgary-Glenmore between the NDP and PC candidates at 7,015 votes each.

Now some predictions:


  1. The new major NDP cabinet posts will be Brian Mason (Finance and Deputy Premier), Deron Bilous (Education), and David Eggan (Health).
  2. Former liberals will become dissatisfied with their parked vote with the NDP and likely jump ship to the Alberta Party more than ever the longer Dr. David Swann remains leader.
  3. The NDP and Wildrose will work together on some campaign finance reforms, but the NDP will conveniently forget about their proportional representation party policy.
  4. The Wildrose will remain official opposition for two years while the backroom talks continue to merge with the PCs and create a new party called "The Conservative Party of Alberta" in the same manner in which the federal party was created.  That said, the Wildrose candidates signed on to not "crossing the floor".  However, if a new party was formed, this may negate that promise.  I also predict that former Medicine Hat MP, Monte Solberg, will lead the party.  Until that merger happens, the NDP will remain in power.


And there you have it folks.  I think we are still in shock, but at the same time, not surprised by the huge miscalculation by Jim Prentice, whose political instinct was so bad that he shouldn't have disregarded the fixed election date law, but called this election anyway because the PCs were simply that arrogant.

And after 44 years coming to an end, with a left-leaning party in power, for conservatives of all stripes, it's going to be a long hangover.



Monday, May 04, 2015

Alberta election-eve 2015

 #abvote #abpoli
 It really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas for the NDP.

The Wildrose, originally optimistic, have failed to be the once expected default anti-PC vote, despite a calm campaign with short directed policy messages.  Few know who Brian Jean really is, although a 4 year MP for the Conservatives in the Ft. Mac region, his last minute leadership ignition didn't have enough juice to maintain momentum from an initial high polling spot.  Government is not in reach for Jean, but an official opposition status within an NDP minority is their best outcome. That said, quite the turnaround for a party that was almost written off after Danielle Smith and company jumped ship to the PCs, only to be burned in the end.  At least it looks like they will recover.


Now, while the PCs continue to dig deep into the well of fear, with big corporatism fueling the fire on threats to hold back children's charitable donations to maintain the bottom line over NDP tax increases while they hypocritically turn around and donate to the PCs, a big thud was heard amongst pissed-off voters causing a further backfire upon the PC entitlement machine.

Contrast that with the calm, caring, and likable Rachel Notley.

So while these corporate executives tied to the 44 year long-governing PCs fire off grenades of fear and doom and gloom scenarios coupled with PostMedia dictating to its newspapers to endorse the PCs in editorials, added to the not-forgotten Redford expense scandals, contracting favours and backroom deals, these events still continue to burn brightly in the minds of voters.


And with that, it's ironic that Rachel's father, Grant Notley, who tragically died long ago as NDP leader, that his spirit along with Jack Layton's somehow appear to have a stronger influence on this campaign than actual living corporate executives, the thousands of dollars buying the vote, and Jim Prentice's own living campaign.

So, lest we forget, the immortal last words of Jack:

“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world.”

He's right. At least for Alberta NDP supporters anyway.

Vote on May 5th.  And it's true, don't let others decide for you.  


____________
*Image courtesy of Laird Books: http://www.lairdbooks.com/?page=shop/flypage&product_id=24370

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Hatrock's 2012 Alberta Election Analysis

I thought we'd revisit the 2012 Alberta election and my analysis of how Alison Redford was able to pull ahead and win in the "final hour".  Here's a rehash of my post:
----

The numbers are uncanny.  You have to go all the way back to Klein in 2001 to find the old PC stalwart voters.  They didn't show up in 2004 or 2008.  But they came back this election.  Look at this...

 501,063   PC votes in 2008
 378,023   conservatives who left PCs to WR in 2012
 123,040   conservatives/PCs remaining in PCs in 2012


 251,158   Liberal votes in 2008
- 46,174   2008 Liberals who switched to NDP in 2012
========
 204,984   difference
-127,642   Liberal votes in 2012
========

  77,342   2008 Liberal who switched to PCs in 2012
     31%   % of Liberals to PCs in 2012


 567,050  PC votes in 2012
-200,382  small-c conservatives and l-liberals who voted PCs in 2012
========

 366,668  New (former?) PC voters in 2012
   
 366,672  Voter turnout diff 2008 to 2012


IT'S THE SAME AMOUNT!!!!   In summary, a third of Liberals went PC because they were scaredy-pants of the Wildrose forming gov't, and somehow the PCs got votes from a magical voterland, perhaps this was the voter turnout difference.

Who are these magical voterland out-of-nowhere PC people?  Several theories:

  • PC went begging to all the former PC voters in some old list that haven't voted in a decade (2015--I can now confirm that this is what the party machine did)
  • Slew of public union gov't workers, teachers, and their families.  Don't forget how much the unions went on a  push poll rampage.
  • I also think in the final four days, there were about 100,000 PC supporters who'd previously said in polls that they'd vote Wildrose, and chickened out.  

Monday, April 27, 2015

Alberta election party promises

 #abvote #abelxn #abpoli
With about a week left, Here are the promises of the parties that I can remember so far:

NDP (Rachel Notley):

  • Eliminate the health premiums promised in the Prentice PC budget
  • Hike corporate taxes
  • 90% of Albertans won't see tax or fee hikes
  • Increase funding for health and education
  • Look at alternatives to KeyStone pipeline proposal
  • Refine oil bitumen in Alberta, limit the amount shipped out for refinement

Wildrose (Brian Jean):

  • Cut back middle-managers in gov't, freeze their wages, reduce expense budgets, in especially health, not front-line workers and balance budget in 5 years
  • No tax hikes or fees
  • Free hospital parking for two hours
  • No more school fees
  • Reduce cabinet

PCs (Jim Prentice) -essentially their recent budget:

  • Tax hikes and fee increases for health, booze (already in), fuel (already in), camping, marriages, mortgages, and about 50 more
  • Implement a progressive tax, increasing the more you make
  • No corporate tax hikes

Alberta Party (Greg Clark):

  • Reduce number of MLAs, cabinet

Liberals (David Swan):

  • Move away from coal and fossil fuels to alternative energies

If anyone would like to add anything, or correct me if I'm wrong, please feel free to comment.  These are simply my impressions of what I've read and heard.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Alberta leaders' TV debate is the PCs last hope

TV dominates politics because it is the prime-time news and political ads that stream into our homes which grab our attention.  Radio, newspaper, and even outdoor signs combined don't have the same total effect that a well-orchestrated TV ad message can have on a campaign.

The Internet, now with video ads, has had to a degree, a similar effect, but people are generally annoyed with Internet advertising and tend to look away.  We generally do not "go on the Internet" together as a couple or family.  The Internet is a personal medium experience.

Not TV, it's there when we commit to watching it. That's all there is on the screen for the whole family to see.  We've learned to expect it for 60 years.  And TV shows and advertising is about emotion and so is politics.  You know the sappy ads that pull at your heart strings and cause you to choke up?  Well, for many, they do, and it's mighty powerful.

So how a leader performs in a TV debate can be a campaign game-changer.  It is a glimpse of how the ongoing legislative question period and debate would go, but more importantly, how the leader is perceived emotionally by the view, breaking it down to a simple question:  How does the leader make you feel?

You could have a leader with a 180 IQ and Mensa member who has done all the advanced statistics and understanding on how to build a perfect society, but if they have the emotional and social capability of an inanimate object, you're not buying it.  You're not in, because you don't have that emotional connection--a bond and common understanding where you can trust the leader to know that he or she represents you.

Emotion trumps ideology in most circumstances.  Oh sure, voters have their political views and beliefs and they will attach those views to a tree if the tree had the same view, but this is where emotion is added to ideology and it's even more powerful.  I know people who have a certain strong ideology but will vote for the individual that, while they don't necessarily fit with their view. They just simply believe the person is the best representative for the job and who will actually lead.

One of my favourite quotes is from the movie "The American President" starring Michael Douglas, Martin Sheen, and Michael J. Fox.


Lewis Rothschild: You have a deeper love of this country than any man I've ever known. And I want to know what it says to you that in the past seven weeks, 59% of Americans have begun to question your patriotism.
President Andrew Shepherd: Look, if the people want to listen to-...
Lewis Rothschild: They don't have a choice! Bob Rumson is the only one doing the talking! People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand.
President Andrew Shepherd: Lewis, we've had presidents who were beloved, who couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don't drink the sand because they're thirsty. They drink the sand because they don't know the difference.

Remind you of a certain former premier?

And so here we are today, in probably Alberta's most important party leadership debate in my lifetime.

As such, Albertans are searching for leadership--a leader who won't stab them in the back and who is offering reasonably-sounding solutions.  The details and effectiveness of those solutions are up for continued debate, but if the leader can present even a coherent sentence that makes sense, doesn't turn them off, and it's coupled with some emotion, that voter can be swayed.

What the majority of voters are looking for in this one is any reason whatsoever to not for the Prentice PCs.  Any little mistake or flip flop is amplified for Prentice and in tracking this election, I would say it isn't going particularly well.  Prentice has the uphill climb to overcome this hurdle because voters on both sides are fed up.  They don't like the recent provincial budget, as much as it's being sold as an honest one.  It's riddled with tax hikes on average Albertans--tax hikes, which conservatives can't stand, but it doesn't raise corporate taxes, which progressives can't stand.

Prentice called the election, violating the election-timing law that was put in place. He also knew all the other parties funds were depleted, especially the Wildrose including a fresh leader, with the Liberals having an interim. However, the NDP's Rachel Notley, who's well-respected father led the party in the 80's, has had some time to get her campaign ready and you have to admit, absolutely the best run campaign. There's no doubt who's winning the sign war in Edmonton. So methinks Prentice forgot about that, and possibly dismissing the NDP's chances of actually winning gov't.

The progressives that were once on the Alison Redford's train and the traditional liberals have left the PC station and have flocked to Rachel Notley.  They are not finding Prentice to be "that guy" they can trust, or progressive, even so far as disagreeing with the tax hikes on the middle and lower class.

And Conservatives in general are abandoning the PCs ... again.  Even a chunk of the traditional PC base has dipped them well below 30% in the polls and that's worth noting, especially trailing third overall.

But with that, conservatives and economic libertarians are going to watch with great intention to see if Wildrose leader Brian Jean can be everything trustworthy-wise Danielle Smith was not.  Any emotional glimpse that he actually can put a coherent sentence together without making any bonehead comments and he can be elevated.  Problem is, the Wildrose didn't field enough candidates province-wide.

With less than two weeks to go to Cinco de Mayo, the time has come for the PCs to pull another one out of their ass with a last ditch effort to put fear into their base to come home instead of running away.  The meeting with the old school campaign bankrollers to fund a TV ad blitz has probably already happened and as the other parties can't afford such a campaign, you will see every desperate attempt to woo voters back to the PCs and instill emotional fear into those who are on the fence with ads featuring Prentice selling you on it.

With that, coupled with tonight's leadership debate, the emotions that are stirred by the leaders will determine whether it's the end of the PCs 44 year dynasty or if they survive another day, and that is significant for Albertans to watch.

Why?  Because it's good TV.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Alberta Election 2015 - Campaign ratings on Day 3

Just being a casual observer of this election on TV and online, here are my impressions of the various party campaigns thus far and their plus/minus rating.  Then I'll aggregate them at the end of each week and the campaign as a whole.

PC - Jim Prentice's election campaign launch basically insulted anyone as extremists who didn't support them.  He also said they are not the party of the status quo.  Uh, riiiight. And see below. 
PC -3.

Alberta Party - The slogan "Choose Alberta's Future" was displayed at Prentice's launch and the .ca and .com domain names were then quickly swiped up by the Alberta Party.
AP +1.

NDP - They just released their first major policy plank on providing 10% of funds up to $50k to businesses who hire an employee in Alberta.  This is the recently elapsed job's program implemented by...?  Harper.
NDP +2.

Wildrose - I haven't heard or seen anything.  Maybe that's a good thing.  Just sit there and be a conservative protest vote.  You can't do that too long though or the NDP might just usurp all the good policies! People need to know who Brian Jean is.
WP +/- 0.

UPDATE:  Brian Jean comes out with a plan to balance the books in three years by cutting public sector jobs in middle management (not front line workers) without raising taxes.
WP +2.

Liberals - Well-known journalist Graham Thompson says it would take a miracle of biblical proportions for the Liberals to get a dozen seats.  And I don't usually associate the Liberals with the Bible, do you?
LP -1.

Polls released showing the Wildrose in the lead, NDP sweeping Edmonton and making in-roads in Calgary, then the PCs.  Say, what?  As it stands, it's a Wildrose minority with a possible NDP official opposition.  But anything can change day to day here.

+2 NDP
+2 WP
+1 AP
-1 LP
-3 PC

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Alberta Election 2015

As I type this, Apprentice Premier Jim Prentice is about to drop the writ and call an election.

As the Alberta PCs continue to reinvent themselves after almost 44 years in power, let's just say this election will be a referendum on the recent budget, coupled with distant memories of former Premier Alison Redford's failed leadership.

For those that got duped into thinking Prentice was a right-of-centre conservative (Danielle Smith et al., I'm looking in your direction), this budget proved otherwise--downloading the burden of total mismanagement, frivolous expenses, and massive, unaccounted spending onto the hard working middle class.  The other provincial governments who have raised taxes on its citizens have not taxed, nor spent their way out of deficit and debt.

As much as Prentice's initial tough-talk on cutting spending, we see a measly 0.7% cut, where taxes on an average family are now up by well over $2000/year.  So much for the federal tax cuts.  Gax tax increase of 4 cents alone will raise the price of everything due to shipping and transport.

But we know all this.

What we don't know is the level of impact the other parties will have in making a dent into the PC juggernaut.  A party that, in the last election, two weeks before the vote, called in a desperate plea to the backroom corporate trough for funds, coupled with Danielle Smith's mishandling of the Huntsberger scandal, led to Redford's win.  I have shown that old PC voters who didn't show up for Ed Stelmach, came out this time to support their old party.

The NDP have a full slate of candidates with more than half of them women.  Rachel Notley has done a fantastic job since becoming leader and in her measured resolve, has pushed out positive messaging to garner support, even from conservatives who dream of an effective opposition once again.  So much so is her support, a recent poll shows the NDP sweeping Edmonton.  As I told Deron Belous, NDP MLA for Beverly, the NDP can potentially hold the balance of power in a minority PC gov't.  It might just happen, folks.

The Liberals are essentially leaderless with former leader David Swann taking the interim helm.  Save a few stalwart seats, like Laurie Blakeman's in Edmonton Centre, the weakened, decimated Alberta Liberals will most certainly fall below the NDP, and possibly the Alberta Party.

The Alberta Party led by Greg Clark needs to concentrate its energy on a few ridings to at least get into the picture.  Failing that with a weak Liberal Party, terrible PC budget, and a bloodied Wildrose, if they don't get at least one seat, this project can simply be deemed a failure.

The remnants of the Wildrose Party, now led by former federal Conservative MP Brian Jean, was recently shown in a poll as tied with the PCs.  This gave much hope and fire for the embattled opposition party.  Conservatives I've spoken to who felt abandoned and disenchanted, appear to be leaning back to the Wildrose with Jean (a.k.a. someone who is a respected conservative) as the leader.  Jean has put up a $100,000 bond to guarantee he won't cross the floor, ever.  He made a Wildrose candidate resign for inappropriate comments overheard on stage at Jean's victory party.

Question is, will the Wildrose be able to raise enough funds to fight this fight for measured TV, radio, and newspaper ads to pull at the emotions of pissed-off middle class Albertans so much so to at least a protest 'No' vote on the recent budget.  In my opinion, that's all they need to do.  Their funds were recently completely depleted in the failed by-elections late last year, so it's an uphill climb, but it needs to happen now.

The PCs didn't raise corporate taxes.  That oughta be enough fodder for big oil to donate to and thank Prentice for fancy ads to sucker voters into giving them yet another term because the other parties are weak. With former president of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta, Jim McCormick, resigning from the board of directors, this is an indication that things are not well within the party.

Keeping the PCs below 35% of the total vote should be enough to put them into a minority situation.

Forty-four years is enough.  Don't let it be 48.  If there's ever been a time for change, this really has to be it.




Monday, March 30, 2015

The Prentice Budget and the Fall of Danielle Smith

I cannot find one single person online who was disappointed that Danielle Smith lost her PC nomination bid in Highwood to Carrie Fischer.  Not one.

This, after the biggest combined tax hike and deficit in Alberta's history in a terrible budget that puts blame, as Apprentice Premier Prentice puts it, on Albertans that voted in the PCs year after year, when the party and government completely failed to "look in the mirror" themselves and admit they're the ones who have mismanaged and misspent the very tax dollars they want more of.

Sad how that floor crossing exodus by Smith and her ilk depleted the official opposition to four seats, believing that Jim Prentice was a true conservative, when clearly that is not the case--a progressive red liberal if anything, which is what many of us who've followed Prentice for years know that is what his real stripe is.

Sad how a text exchange with reporter Vassy Kapelos from Global and subsequent apology (which I won't repeat here) became Smith's last known parting note as a politician, after those years of trying to portray herself as an articulate rural Albertan woman that would one day become premier.

Sad how her biggest mistake, as many pundits and bloggers put it, was in the last provincial election where when it looked like a Wildrose victory, an old online post from candidate Huntsburger about gays was outed and trotted.  Right there, Smith should have dismissed his candidacy, but instead defended his right to have these views.  Coupled with a last minute plea to former PC big donors, the Wildrose only hit the mid-teens, crowning Alison Redford as the new preem, who soon later, was pushed out of her own party, leaving the door open for Jim Prentice.

Sad how a premier, who has no mandate from voters, with virtually no opposition, can simply raise taxes without having it actually passed in the legislature first.

Happy that NDP leader Rachel Notley's calm, professional approach toward getting her message out with mass door knockings and online video spots is connecting with Albertans, even conservative ones who believe in a strong opposition.  I mean, come on, even the NDP wouldn't have hiked taxes like this!

What of the Wildrose, the once real government in waiting?

Enter Brian Jean, former Ft. McMurray Conservative MP, who, just hours before Smith lost her bid, took her place as leader of the Wildrose.  Likely more invigorated than ever due to the recent high tax budget, the Wildrose felt like they were onto something and perhaps back in the saddle.

But whoa there!  Just as Brian Jean was celebrating his win on stage with party supporters, recent Wildrose nominee Bill Jarvis was overheard on stage over the room microphone in a massive gaffe saying they needed a couple more brown people in front.  Despite his quick apology, and likely a bad joke, even swifter was new leader Brian Jean in making Jarvis resign.  Unlike Smith with Huntsburger, it appears Jean won't make that big mistake again.  That said, the hillbilly damage reared its head again in the Wildrose, despite other similar gaffes by PC MLAs and PC candidate probes in recent memory.

In another swift move, Jean also put up a $100,000 retainer that he would never cross the floor. It's an interesting gesture that puts those questions to rest.  But, the other question out there is how Jean's own company donated $10,000 to the PCs.  Whether that decision was in his control is a business matter, but that hefty donation alone also points out the dire need for Alberta's political donation laws to emulate the federal model, and badly.

The Wildrose have a steep hill to climb to gain the trust of the once seemingly strong conservative supporters and to win back social libertarians, which despite Alberta's supposed redneck image, clearly dominate the landscape.  I'm hearing many well-respected folks supported Brian Jean, but admit it, 99% of Albertans don't have a clue who he is.

Now that I'm hearing rumours that a provincial election will be called today if not soon, the Wildrose would be lucky to gain official opposition status from the NDP, who may very well double their seats from 4 to 8.  But still, a government in waiting, or even fully effective opposition, this does not make!

Sad how I'm hearing people say, "I'll vote PC because there's no one else to vote for?"  Really?  You really have to ask yourself if you agree with this budget, how corporate political donations prop up the PCs in their favour, and if it's good for democracy having the same party in power for 44 years, among hundreds of other arguments.

But the main argument is this. A government and this PC party in particular require a strong opposition or this province will continue to be mismanaged by absolute power that has corrupted absolutely.

Don't be swayed by a premier and party the way Danielle Smith was.  How she thought their policies lined up with hers and wooed her over, the official opposition leader nonetheless, only to find she didn't have the support she thought she had.

Such is the fall of Danielle Smith.

And such is the fall of Alberta politics.