Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas everybody!

From all of us here in Hatrock's Cave, we'd like to wish you and yours a very happy merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Redford slips on banana

She's defending terrorist-funding Chiquita Banana?   Why isn't she out there defending the oil sands?

Redford said Chiquita's attempt to boycott Alberta oil is a case of "a corporation who is concerned about environmental outcomes talking about a lower emission fuel standard, saying that that's a concern to them."

"And the spin that's put on that by environmental activists is to say, 'Oh, it's a boycott.' And then to have the company have to come out and say, 'Well, no, it's not actually a boycott. We're just talking about wanting to do better.' "
She said that?  Oh dear.  This does not sound like someone who has Alberta's best interest in mind.

I don't understand.  I don't understand how she cannot be defending the ethical oil sands when it provides so much in revenue to her government coffers to spend on health care and education, is beyond me. 

What a disaster she's become in such a short period of time.

Alberta PCs, 40 years is enough.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Kerry Diotte - a shining light on Edmonton City Council

Read Edmonton City Councillor Kerry Diotte's speech on why he didn't support the 2012 Edmonton City budget which saw a 5.4% tax increase plus dozens of other fee increases.

He specfically mentions departments that went from 1 to 24 people in a short period of time and rightfully calls it "empire building".  He's right.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Edmontonians need to wake up and see that the ongoing left-leaning council has been rubberstamping budgets for years without actually grilling the city manager and other minions about setting cost efficiency goals, eliminating empire building within the city bureaucracy and services.

And of course, when us conservative folks want the city to cut spending, there are folks who say, "Oh no, we can't do that. You'll have more pot holes."

Hogwash.  Absolute utter hogwash.

Councillor Diotte had the guts to vote against the budget.  I hope he has the guts to run for mayor in the future and reign in spending while focusing on core services.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Boomers living good life while kids hit blockade

An excellent article by Sheila Pratt about Professor Paul Kershaw, who talks about what everyone else seems afraid to discuss--and something I've been discussing lately regarding not a divide between rich and poor, but a divide of wealth, benefits, and debt betweeen generations.

Baby boomers have not improved the lives of the next generation, in fact, for their own benefit, have actually created income/working hours/stress/health problems for their children only to have the government they lead believe they need to solve.  To do that, gov't has gone into deficit and debt, only to beg to raise taxes, further burdening lower and middle income families without knowing it.

I get the feeling that the current federal Conservative gov't is fully aware of this reality, but balancing it somehow by incrementally reducing the tax burden, providing small tax credits to young families, while continuing to provide social benefits to retirees and hoping the economy recovers to inject more tax revenue into its coffers.  Thing is, that only happens over years after taxes have been lowered. 

On the benefits side, today the federal gov't will continue to increase the provincial health transfers by 6% but over the next 5 years, not 10.  That action is obviously to cover the increase in health need by the surge of baby boomer retirees, but unload that burden to the provinces.

Unfortunately, the Alberta Redford government is toying with returning to health care taxes (+$1200 tax burden/year on individuals in families and businesses), a PST, and now more useless sin taxes.  She then thinks she can have the gov't sweep in and save you from the problems it creates.

The feds have been transferring legal, tax and social burdens to the provinces for a while and my guess is that will only increase.  What that does is create more competition between provinces to attract business and people.  Time and time again, it's been shown that low-tax, lower-cost, high income, job availability areas are where people migrate to.  And Saskatchewan and Alberta lead the pack.  My guess is that Saskatchewan will continue to outpace Alberta, primarily due to gov't policy.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Redford the Red Nosed Premier

Premier Mum now mulls increasing sin taxes.

How the hell can a Premier who doesn't even have the mandate of the people have already had her caucus consider a sales tax, reintroduce health care tax premiums, implement unconstitutional drinking and driving legislation, and now mulls over an increase in sin taxes?

Alberta already pays some of the highest sin taxes in Canada.   Stelmach raised taxes on booze then rescinded them because they didn't really bring in much.   Now Redford wants them back?  Sorry, just because she bribed the ATA to vote for her, doesn't give her the mandate from all Albertans to just do whatever she wants.  I admit voting for her, but now regret that.  She's been a terrible premier with many broken promises already, and now implementing things she didn't even mention before.

Redford anticipates the criticism but, as with other decisions like the new .05 drinking and driving law, the premier believes she has the backing of the majority of people in this province.

“Albertans are really sensible. They want to be healthy, they want to be safe and they want government to take some leadership and say: ‘You know what, we’re going to make some choices and these choices are going to be conducive to building a safer and a healthier community where we’re able to make sure we have good programs in place and everyone in society can thrive.’
Uh, Premier Mum, taxing people isn't going to change a thing in that regard.  This is a sad attempt at social engineering.  Not only that, but YOU HAVEN'T HEARD FROM ALBERTANS YET.  You never mentioned these things in your leadership run, so for you to say that Albertans back your .05 law and raising sin taxes, YOU ARE WRONG because you haven't contested an election.  Not only that, but nearly everyone I talk to thinks the .05 law that allows police to seize property is a violation of our rights.

It's obvious that this party has no clue anymore.  It spends more on health care than 8 other provinces yet has one of the highest wait times.  It gets billions in oil and gas royalty revenue yet continues to run a deficit.  Adding more money to the government coffers through sin and health care taxes isn't going to solve the mismanagement.  In fact, with more money, it'll likely make it worse.  And we've seen that.

I've never seen a government go against the core belief of liberty, something this province used to have.  Alberta's motto is "Strong and Free".

Not anymore.

40 years is enough.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Liberal dirty tricks

I'm currently in a little debate with a friend on Facebook regarding the Harper government's actions.  He specifically said that Harper's gov't was the only one to ever be found in contempt by Parliament, that Harper was the only one to ever prorogue Parliament, not once, but multiple times.

It's amazing how some folks drink the Liberal kool-aid time and time again.  During the 90's, the Chretien gov't did many tricks to exert power.  They will never have credibility on any issue regarding parliamentary ethics.

First off, the trumped-up contempt charge regarding the government not releasing secure military documents could have only occurred in a minority situation with the majority of the parties being in relative ideological agreement.  It's pretty weak.  And did this contemptiveness have any affect on voters when soon after, the Conservative were returned to government with a majority?  Apparently not.  So it's really a moot point.

Secondly, on prorogation, how amazing isn't it that so many people honestly thought Harper was the only one who ever prorogued Parliament, when it's been done dozens and dozens of times over Canada's history, even by many Liberals, including Chretien.  Shocking! 

So currently, with Heir Trudeau's recently foul-mouth "you piece of shit" comment in the House against Environment Minister Peter Kent, many Liberals and lefties are praising his outrage.  What's the outrage though?

It is based on the government not inviting opposition MPs to the Durban conference on climate change and that the government pulled out of the Kyoto protocol.

It is therefore quite rich that a Liberal MP would make such comments being that the Liberals aren't even a government in waiting, and especially that all the Liberals did to tackle global warming was sign the Kyoto Treaty and then send billions of dollars to Russia for CO2 emission off-sets.

He says it's based on tradition.  Who cares?  If I'm not mistaken, it's not a mandated Parliamentary tradition and why do opposition MPs get to represent Canada on an international level?  Last time I checked, they're not the government, they don't get to represent nor speak on behalf of Canada.  Pretty fundamental aspect to a democracy, no?

And what shouldn't be a tradition is sending billions out of the Canadian budget into la-la land so benefit countries like Russia who threaten to cut off gas lines to Ukraine and who currently run corrupt elections and who make false undersea border claims in the Arctic in conflict with Canada.  Yeah, makes a lot of sense!

The Kyoto Treaty?  Now that's a piece of shit.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Redford's first TV ad...

In the mortal words of Liberal MP Justin Trudeau, it's "a piece of shit".


(Note that Justin Trudeau's words were not actually directed at Alison Redford, the PC Party of Alberta, or the above aforementioned advertisement, but his recent words directed at Minister Peter Kent are so useful and ever poignant to be directed at so many things and people all the time, especially, and perhaps only Conservatives, because it's okay unless directed by Conservatives at Liberals or Dippers, by everyone here foreafterwith, especially and most especially in the House of Commons and fully supported by those who perhaps doth protest too much without proper research, common sense, dignity, and respect for Parliament--you know, the place where the laws of Canada are made.)

Anyway, getting back on track here, as far as style, although I'm still skeptical, I think Danielle Smith, leader of the Wildrose, in contrast to Premier Redford, presents herself well in an ad like this:



The reply ad from the PCs only tells me that they are nervous--that some "powers that be" in the old PCs perhaps want to contrast Redford's soft side.  This is, however, unprescendented from the PCs.  Odd, in fact.

Which can only be a good thing.. nevermind Redford's ad being a piece of shit.  But seriously folks, 40 years?  40!  Just vote for someone else, I don't care who.  But not the PCs anymore, please.  It's better for our democracy in Alberta.

(h/t to David Climenhaga)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"You piece of shit" - Trudeau

A lot of bloggers will be blogging this one, and this blog is no different.

During Question Period in the House of Commons, Justin Trudeau bellowed out to Environment Minister Peter Kent, "You piece of shit!"

Trudeau later apologized.

Ah yes, the apple doesn't fall from the tree.  Some of you will recall his father from a train giving protestors in Salmon Arm, BC the middle finger as they shouted anti-French slogans.

It's one thing to do it in public and in response to insults, but this behaviour from his son is uncalled for in the House of Commons.  Courts are conducted in a very dignified manner--you'd think where the laws are actually made, that it would set a better example.

This shows bad judgment by a potential future Liberal leader.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Majority gov't checkpoint...

When the Conservatives won their majority this Spring (as one of few bloggers who predicted it), I didn't predict the speed at which they would introduce long-awaited legislation.  Without looking anything up, here's a quick checkpoint summary of such bills that I can remember.

  1. - Eliminated the long-gun registry
  2. - Eliminate the Canadian Wheat Board
  3. - Not renewing commitment to the Kyoto Protocol
  4. - Ask over 70 departments to present 5% and 10% reductions in their budgets
  5. - Not hiring replacements for retiring bureaucrats
  6. - Requiring faces to not be covered during citizenship oath
  7. - Passed the omnibus crime bill
  8. - Changed name of military back to "Royal" prefix

I'm sure there's more as these are the popular ones, but you are free to add more in the comments. Like I said, I'm amazed at what's been done and undone in just under half a year of a parliamentary session. 


Also note a recent Abacus poll which has the Conservatives at 40% and another poll showing that 65% of Canadians believe we are on the right track.  Despite Liberals and Dippers crying afoul that the gov't is stripping Canada of its identity, I would argue that we're actually getting it back from the Pearson-Trudeau-Chretien liberalism and these measures above certainly appeal to conservatives and libertarians alike.

Considering that an election is 3.5 years away, the NDP are mired in a leadership race, the Liberals have an interim leader, and the Bloc are an after-thought, the timing to bring in all this legislation early is a smart move by Harper.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Premier Mum rams through new drinking and driving legislation

Premier Mum--that's what many are starting to call Alberta Premier Alison Redford.  Last night, the controversial Bill 26 ("The 0.05") passed in the legislature 30-7.  

First off, only 37 MLAs voted?  Where were the other 50 or so?   Not only that, but it's well known that the bill was hurried through with little debate and consultation.  And now we learn that is was rammed through simply because Premier Mum wanted it in place before Christmas.

But why, when Solicitor General Jonathan Denis says although the bill passed, the law won't be in place until six months from now?

My only guess as to this "logic" is that Mum wanted to confuse Albertans into thinking that the 0.05 level is actually the law this Christmas season and not get behind the wheel after a drink or two.

What irks me is that she made no mention of this during her leadership campaign, on top with her other many flip flops.

Like the long gun registry, it's one of those unnecessary, reactionary laws used by politicians often after a tragedy to show that they're doing something constructive, but where our basic rights are taken away.

Now, I'm not advocating that it's okay to drink and drive, but in this case, the federal government mandates the limit and one's rights here, not the provinces. If provinces like BC and Alberta want to change the limit, then they should petition their federal MPs to introduce such legislation.

But I guess Premier Mum knows better.






Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Attawapiskat and the Indian Act

Here we go folks...

First off, I want to say that I have many friends of aboriginal descent, all of which who left the reserve to get an education and become successful.  "Best thing I did was leave the reserve when I did," they'd say.

The terrible conditions in Attawapiskat and lack of medical staff which contributed to the death of a child are the cause of one thing, and one thing only--greed and gross mismanagement by the reserve chiefs and "administrators".  There's only 1800 folks that live there yet money, millions of it, pour in from the federal government and get squandered. 

Liberal leader Bob Rae was bellowing in the House of Commons asking the Prime Minister to visit the reserve to see the conditions.  Does that mean Mr. Harper should also visit every reserve in the nation?  Some are doing well, like in Osoyoos, BC, but we know that many are not, despite the millions poured in.  And when the federal government threatens to cut back, the first whiners out of the gate are some of the band chiefs crying about the conditions of their people, like it was caused by the current federal government, when it's their own uncaring greed.


Now, the feds wanted to send in a third-party manager but the chief doesn't want him there.  Oh, gee why is that?  To show what a greedy, uncaring band council you really are?  Smarten the hell up.

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence told CBC News that she had informed the band manager of her decision.

"I advised my band manager I don't want them in my community … doesn't work for our community … we should focus on the crisis, not on other things," she told host Evan Solomon, on CBC's Power & Politics.
Yes, you SHOULD HAVE been focusing on the crisis.  But you didn't.  
The government said earlier it had chosen Jacques Marion, from the accounting and consulting firm BDO Canada, as its third-party manager for Attawapiskat. Marion was to exercise signing authority for all department spending and would decide which band staff are required to run its program and services.
Spence said the minister responsible for First Nations "didn't listen."

"We'd like to work together but put third party away … We've demonstrated we have our deficit down. We don't need a banker to come and tell us what to do," the chief told Solomon.



Like many Canadians now learning of these autracities, I've had it with some of these whiny chiefs who think they know better when they clearly have no bloody clue.  I've had it with reserves all together.  When I drive through many of them in Alberta, I don't like what I see.  No regard for the environment.  Boarded up homes and apartment complexes.  Burnt cars.  Trash.  Is this the traditional proud lifestyle of our aboriginals?  Not at all.

And now National Chief Shawn Atleo is in the spotlight.
"We must move beyond the Indian Act and we must affirm our Crown-First Nation relationship," he said during a speech on the first day of the Special Chiefs Assembly in Ottawa. "This 19th-century relic continues to hold us back in delivering better lives for our peoples."
He's right.  The Indian Act (ignorant name to begin with) needs a complete overhawl, or you know what, maybe just scrap it all together.
Atleo said that despite the potential being reached by many young First Nations people and other areas of progress, it is still a "frustrating" time. Too many people are struggling with substance abuse and suicide, are sick from dirty drinking water, living in unsafe homes, and too many children go to school in cold, mouldy classrooms, Atleo said.
But sorry chief, despite all the money that pours in, you need to hold your band chiefs accountable.  Maybe set an example and not live a lavish lifestyle.
"Canadians saw for the first time last week what we see every day," Atleo said, referring to the situation in Attawapiskat in northern Ontario.

But if you see it every day then what are YOU doing to solve it, National Chief?  Are you actually saying that because of the Indian Act where millions of dollars are poured into reserves and essentially lining the pockets of band chiefs hasn't solved the issues and problems?

If you are, then that's pretty refreshing to hear.  But talk is cheap.  Canadians and the media are going to now pay even more close attention to see if it isn't.





Monday, December 05, 2011

Canada to not renew Kyoto commitment

Goodbye Kyoto! As rumoured, the enivironment minister has announced that Canada will not renew its commitment to the Accord, which expires next year and slated to have a new commitment for the next four years after that.

It was a bad deal from the beginning with countries such as China, India, and Brazil not having the same commitment.  Essentially, Canada spent billions in paying out carbon offsets, which Russia was a net gain.  By pulling out now, Canada won't have to pay out $6.7 billion.

So even if the Chretien Liberals didn't originally sign Kyoto, the federal government could have saved billions instead of joining the global-socialist scam.  Hopefully, the Harper Conservatives won't make the same mistake and instead, not sign anything, or at least sign on to something that's realistic.


Friday, December 02, 2011

"The oil sands' misguided critics"

Today, the National Post published a well-written and truthful editorial opinion on the Alberta oil sands.

Some highlights...

"Archbishop [Tutu] and friends might also want to look at the glass house they live in before throwing rocks at Canada. South Africa relies on coal-burning power plants to generate 85% of its power. It is also building two 4,800-megawatt power plants (each nearly double the size of the largest coal-fired power plants in North America) to meet the needs of their nation's rapidly expanding economy. Together, the emissions from just these two plants will equal more than half the output of Canada's oil sands.

"And let's not even discuss Nigeria, where the oil industry causes more environmental despoliation and corruption in a single year than the oil sands will in a century.

"China has never been obliged to cut its emissions - or even to limit their growth - by the Kyoto protocol. China has also refused to accept any emissions limits, whatever, in any successor treaty that may emerge after Kyoto expires next year. It is only pushing hard for a new Kyoto because it wants industrialized economies - including ours - hobbled by environmental regulations so that its own booming economy can take up the slack and expand faster still.

"According to a World Health Organization study, released in September, the Canadian city with the worst air quality - Sarnia, Ont. - had air 10 times cleaner than Beijing's, and Beijing is not even China's dirtiest city.

"On a per-dollar-of-GDP, China's pollution is six or seven times greater than ours.

"None of these critics have anything to teach Canada about carbon emissions."
I honestly believe that these "misguided critics" think that most of the area of Northern Alberta is a cesspool of oil sands development with pits covering a vast area larger than many countries when the opposite is true.  The area is a blip, yet it provides an immense amount of wealth, not just for Alberta, but for all of Canada.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Parliamentary reform proposals worth considering

Over at ThreeHundredEight.com, one of the best Canadian political blogs, they make some worthy parliamentary reform proposals for all of us to consider.  To do that, however, the blog rightfully admits that the prime stumbling-block is the grandfather clause that provinces must have at least as many MPs as it has senators (e.g. PEI with 4).

I like the fact that the main senate proposal is for each province to have an equal number of senators--10 each with 4 appointed federally and 6 appointed by the province at each provincial election.  I think 100 is too many though--Canada is not that populated it needs over-representation.  Also, while it floors me that many people still need convincing that provincial equality is crucial to the unity of the country, the blog does not make a strong case as to why this is necessary.  What is also important though, in the majority of Canadians' opinion, that these senators should be elected by the people, not by politicians themselves.

I have advocated 66 senators: six for each province, two for each territory, where half the senators are elected every six years in conjunction with civic elections, which are held every three years.  Each province would be divided into six senatorial regions, not necessarily based on population density, but on economics and geography.

For example, Alberta's senatorial regions would be divided as follows:
1. Peace Country (Northwest) -- High River, Peace River, Grand Prairie, Slave Lake, High Prairie, Whitecourt
2. Wood Buffalo (Northeast) -- Lac La Biche, Cold Lake, Ft. McMurray, Athabasca
3. Capital Region -- Edmonton, St. Albert, Sherwood Park, Leduc, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Mornville
4. Mountain -- Grande Cache, Hinton, Edson, Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff, Canmore, Nordegg
5. Central -- Red Deer, Camrose, Rocky Mountain House, Stettler, Oyen, Drumheller
6. South -- Calgary, Airdrie, Brooks, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Fort MacLeod, Waterton


Monday, November 21, 2011

More reasons to not support AB PC gov't...

1) .05 alcohol blood limit allows police to seize your vehicle..
2) $3.1 billion deficit higher than expected so bring in health care premiums!

1) .05: So without due justice and right, police can suspend your license and seize your vehicle for 3 days.  I'm told in BC that this has really hurt the service industry.  Sure, have .05, but why not just let it be a ding on your demerits or insurance.  For a big guy like me, .05 is nothing.

2) Premiums:  So instead of curtailing spending, what do these geniuses come up with?  Reintroducing health care premiums (read: tax).  This will bring in about $1 billion annually.  What's stupid is that many companies (like mine) that provided this benefit have already adjusted their budgets for other employee benefits (e.g. RRSPs, profit sharing).  So in a way, this will hurt jobs and income if companies have to readjust.  But it really hurts lower-middle income folks too, like over 25 year old single parents going back to school for retraining, so it's just stupid, lazy policy that doesn't curtail anyone from visiting the doctor.

Come on people.  40 years is enough of this joke of a gov't.  How anyone who calls themselves a conservative can continue to support the PCs is beyond me.  An election is this Spring.  Do the province a favour and turf these power grubbing morons.

Friday, November 18, 2011

"Shut the #!*% up!"

When the Liberals had a majority, they used to end debate pretty quickly.  In the case of the current omnibus crime bill, all of the measures have been thoroughly debated already.  So for NDP MPs like Pat Martin, who used profanity on their Twitter account to whine about it, and telling a follower to "F--k off" without an apology (I don't really care about that, but his vitriol is wanting), at this pace, someone's going to need him to eat soap.  In other words, with a Conservative majority and a mandate in place, he'd better get used to it.

John Ivison from the National Post has some "Advice for the opposition parties: Shut the #!*% up!"

...

Conservatives were set to use their majority to shut down debate on the omnibus crime bill at the justice committee Thursday, and have used time allocation on six other bills to speed their passage through the House of Commons. (In the event, after the cameras switched off, MPs agreed on a compromise that will see them come back to debate again next week.)

Judging by the response, you'd think they had suspended habeas corpus. "A stunning assault on democracy," frothed Green leader Elizabeth May. "A hijacking of democracy," said Liberal Irwin Cotler.

Mr. Cotler, who should know better, was in full flow. "If we pass these nine bills in their present form - we will have the exact opposite of what we seek: more crime, less justice and more cost," he told the committee.

That may very well be the case - and there are certainly many shortcomings in the crime bill. But his opinion on its worth should not be confused with the government's right to pass legislation on which it was elected. It's not as if the various component bills that make up the Safe Streets and Communities Act have not been debated in Parliament. The bill as it stands has had four days of debate, comprising 16 hours and 53 speeches, not to mention nine days at committee. But much of its content has been hanging around Parliament since the Conservatives were elected in 2006. In total, including review in the Senate, the component bills have had 53 days of debate, made up of 95 hours and 261 speeches, since they were first introduced, according to the House leader's office. Not quite the trampling of democracy the opposition parties suggest.

In fact, most of the legislation in front of the House has been thoroughly aired - bills to modernize copyright, kill the long-gun registry, open up the wheat board, and create more seats in the House of Commons have all appeared in one form or another in previous parliaments.

Almost by definition, the opposition parties don't agree with them - nor should they. But the Conservatives won the right to push through their agenda at the last election, after years of seeing half their bills killed by elections, prorogation and opposition tactics.

...

h/t Dr. Roy

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The new RCMP chief...


His name is Robert Paulson

Now I remember where I've heard that name before...



Edit: Ah, crap. Someone beat me to it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

To PST or not to PST

I had a dream last night that I was having an open conversation with Premier Redford.  Honest.  I asked her about what it's like governing then hit her with the PST thing.  I said, "I don't mind a PST, but you have to eliminate income taxes."  She wasn't all that open to it.  Then I said, "You guys have a spending problem, not a revenue problem."

But that Ron Liepert is something else isn't he? 

Yesterday:  To PST...


“In Alberta, we can’t continue to rely on resource revenues, and I think we should have that conversation sooner instead of later,” Liepert told EEDC’s (Edmonton Economic Development Corp.’s) 2012 economic outlook luncheon.

"So somehow it’s trying to close that gap between what’s expected to be a fairly flat revenue stream and increasing expenditures. And the only way you can get to a balanced budget is by closing that gap. That’s the challenge we’ve got ahead of us and we’ll be dealing with that over the next few weeks.”
Today:  Not to PST...
“First, in the interest of absolute clarity, Premier Redford, Deputy Premier Horner and all of my cabinet colleagues are committed to preserving Alberta’s “NO PST” status."   

Ok, so Ron was open to the idea because roundtable Albertans said so. Then the political fallout came and he was muzzled.

That coupled with the decision to have or not to have a legislative session this year, on flip flopping on the Heartland power lines, their made up tiff with the feds on funding of the Royal Alberta Museum, and lack of forcefulness on the Keystone XL pipeline don't compare with the fact that this gov't fails to look for ways to save on expenditures.

Especially when it spends 40% more per capita than Ontario and 30% more than BC for the same services.  And why is Alberta spending more on health care than the other provinces, except perhaps Newfoundland and Labrador, when it has the youngest population?  I can see if we had an aging one, which we do to an extent.

The issue here folks, is management.  Unlike other provinces, when you have the same party running the show for 40 years with little to no accountability, with high-wage baby boomers in administration and bureaucracy, new approaches to governing aren't discovered, no matter who the leader is.  And that party feeds the departmental bureaucracy in perpetual pocketlining each and every budget, but not asking them to look for ways to save or become more efficient.  I haven't heard it come out of Redford's statements or this party's statements that they'll streamline government.  They say Albertans are telling them.
"Round table participants are asking government to spend wisely and be more efficient including the delivery of healthcare and education. It will be these ideas that will be considered by the Alberta government caucus over the coming months, not a sales tax.”

Why do they even have to consult Albertans on this?  It's just a smokescreen folks.  How do they not know they have a spending problem when they haven't balanced the books in many, many years?  It's like they're not even trying and just going through the motions.

Why did they need to raid the Heritage Trust Fund to pay for budget items when much more in savings could easily be found if they just try?  Why? 

The last thing we need is more taxes.  It's a weak cop-out by a weak-willed government and party.

While I thought I'd give them a couple months chance to prove themselves, the premier I voted for, Redford and Co. have disappointed me at every turn, so for all that, I just ripped up my Alberta PC membership card.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Deep voice candidates do better with voters" - study

So that's why Brian Mulroney won two majorities!  http://bit.ly/sI5s2X

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Public art

You wonder why some of us fiscal conservative types want to reduce or eliminate public art funding?


This "art" is being placed next to the Whitemud Drive-Quesnell Bridge on-ramp--an area that was newly reconstructed to add lanes to the bridge and freeway.  This is also an area of much natural beauty--the North Saskatchewan River, the forests, Whitemud Creek Park, the Equine Centre, hiking and bike trails, and just across Fox Drive is a small farm.

Yep.  Our River Valley has amazing natural beauty.  But when I think of it, I ask, "Nevermind trees or shrubs.  Who needs that?  You know what we need?  $500k+ in shiny steel ball mounds.  That'll blend in perfectly!"

Like, seriously.  Who approved this crap?


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Harper: "Bert, you have to give us an override."

Triple E Senate booster and Conservative Senator Bert Brown was asked by Prime Minister Harper to look for a way to ensure the House of Commons remains supreme over the Senate regarding passing legislation.  Senator Brown proposes that we simply use the same formula in the 1982 Canada Act, but to do so, each province must have an equal number of senators.  That formula being 7 out of 10 provinces with more than 50% of the population to change the constitution. 

It would now apply to senators.  But to do that, you need Quebec or Ontario to agree as the other provinces' populations don't add up to 50%.  Bert is also proposing that Ontario and Quebec senators would also get veto powers.  I guess that prevents the whole country from ganging up on Quebec (or Ontario).

This idea stems from folks who don't believe the Senate should reign over the House of Commons especially if it's elected--it would give it more legitimacy and power.    But I have to laugh at that since they're admitting that electing senators gives them that democracy, where currently, with them appointed, all they need is 50% + 1 to kill a bill from the lower house dominated by Quebec and Ontario!  Insenaty now!!!

What do we at Hatrock's Cave think?  Anything to get to provincial equality is fine by us.  Not regional equality, but provincial.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Federal seat redistruction

The federal government is introducing legislation to balance the seat distribution in the House of Commons by adding 30 seats:

+15 Ontario
+  6 Alberta
+  6 B.C.
+  3 Quebec

It's a very small step in the right direction, but it's also way off.  One problem is that no province can have fewer MPs than it has senators, so for Nova Scotia, which has 10 senators, it has 11 MPs.  This is greatly flawed and doesn't reflect a true, equal and fair democracy. 

Below is a table and graph I have compiled based on current 2011 Stats Can population numbers.  Here's you'll see just how unbalanced it continues to be.  The key number here is the Seats/Pop ratio column. I've graphed it to show the differences between the current situation, new legislation, modified, and my "Hatrock" proposal, but with provinces only.

As well, by 'Modified', I mean that if the gov't continued with its current logic in the new legislation and maintained the current (MPs >= Senators) formula, it would have to drastically increase the size of the Commons to 368 seats.

Updated Nov. 2/'11:  Corrected Alberta at 36 to 34 seats under new legislation.






















Provincial Seat/Pop. Models Chart
 (Based on above numbers.)


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Canada, Alberta, and Edmonton things and stuff

It's only Wednesday but there's lots going on in gubermint at all levels...

Canada
  1. Bill C-19 was introduced to terminate/kill/shoot down/blow up the Federal Long Gun Registry.  Long awaited by the Conservatives, now with a majority, this will pass.  Many will watch gun crime numbers more closely now I'm sure.
  2. Canadian Wheat Board gets the axe.  Some say taxpayers will then have to prop up farmers when the prices drop.  I don't know about you, but I don't see food prices dropping anyway.  They've only been going up and up.  What I also hope doesn't happen is what's happened in the U.S. where a private monopoly has taken over.  And now, the Wheat Board is suing the federal government.  Oh joy.
Alberta

Newly minted premier, Alison Redford's been quite busy:
  1. She appointed 2nd place candidate Gary Mar to "Pledge Representative to the Social Committee" .. er.. Alberta Ambassador something or other to China.  Plum job for $250k or so.
  2. She appointed failed candidate and former MLA Rick Orman to head up the economic policy committee or something.  A good appointment considering I supported Rick on the first ballot and agree with a lot of his policies. 
  3. She got the $107 million in for education.  Loved the debate on that one.  Ah, democracy at work.
  4. She's toying with the idea of emulating BC drunk driving laws.  Couldn't have anything to do with the fatal crashes near Grand Prairie and Lethbridge could it?  They're not reacting out of emotion are they?  I can't stand it when governments do this.
  5. She's backtracked/flip-flopped on a few things though already...
    1. Legislative sitting?  First it was no.  Then it was yes.  Then only a couple days now and a few more in November.  Not good. Not good at all.  With lots going on, she needs to be held accountable.  Why? Read on..
    2. Heartland overhead power lines in Strathcona County?  Her newly appointed Energy Minister, Ted Morton said the gov't was going to review all the lines.  Then only four hours later, Premier Redford says only two of them need review and that the lines are necessary, when in fact, they will not even be near full capacity.  I'm vehemently against overhead power lines.  They're ugly for one, and more especially, the health concerns for very nearby residences is quite valid.  These power companies need to "Bury the Line".  Read more at RETA.
    3. Health care inquiry?  This was one of her promises in the leadership race, now she's watering it down.  More to come on that one.
Overall, so far I'm not impressed with her but not surprised.  Even in this short period, she's obviously being handled by party stalwarts who've caused her to back down.

In my opinion, all the opposition parties are doing a good job keeping her and her government accountable.  In the next election, vote for one of them, but not the PCs.  Come on, 40 years? Seriously?

Edmonton 

Downtown arena.  On Monday, the public came forward expressing their support/non-support and concerns.  The biggest concern is in regards to the deal and how much taxpayers are on the hook for.  A lesser concern is the location, parking, etc.   The majority of citizens appear to want a new arena but question the funding model.  Here's why I want a new one...

After attending an Oilers game Saturday, I can say that I can't stand Rexall Place.  I had to grab tickets in Ardrossan from a family member, then driving down the Yellowhead and arriving there, parking availability was a joke.  And when taking the LRT, the station is crammed on the way there and back.  Downtown bars eventually got crowded to the hilt with fans.  Getting a cab is a pain.

But the venue itself, while sturdy, has crammed seats, crammed concourses, and I could never for the life of me understand why they didn't build a tunnel from the LRT station to the coliseum.  Instead of staying indoors, leaving your jacket behind and going from your office downtown to a nearby LRT station, then get off and walk underground then head right to your seat, you currently have to stand and walk outside for several minutes.  This is Edmonton, people!  It's cold in the Winter.  So people have to bring winter coats and put them on their seats, which are already narrow and crammed.  Not a good deal for $250 a pop for Gold seats.  That said, for concerts, rodeos, special events, it's just fine.  I'm very glad Katz dropped the no-compete clause for Northlands. That said, I only think he used it as a negotiation tactic, not a business success requirement.

That alone makes me want to have a new arena.  Secondly, is the location.  Everyone talks about Columbus as a model.  Let's look at Nashville.  I've been there.  The arena is next door to the Country Music Hall of Fame, Grand Ole Opry, and a mere block from the main entertainment district on Broadway Street in East Downtown where dozens of bars and restaurants line blocks of road. And the live music is amazing.  The football stadium is only a short walk across the pedestrian river bridge.  Lots of energy there.

As far as the details of the deal, I think the Katz Group needs to kick in a lot more.   I've never believed for one moment that Katz has ever had any intention on moving the team.  Edmonton is one of the best hockey markets in history.  We pretty much sell out every game.  The players are gods.  Bars and restaurants count on Oilers games.  City Council should have called his bluff and asked for more money up front:  $100 million, then provided $100 million in loans, coupled with a ticket tax, and the City could MAKE money off this deal. 

UPDATE:  Council just voted 10-3 in favour of the Caterina amended motion regarding the Katz deal with Councillors Diotte, Sloan, and Iveson against.

Councillor Don Iveson has posted his thoughts on why he voted against it, which pretty much align with my thoughts.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

CBC's "22 Minutes" ambushes Rob Ford

Poor Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.  And Warren Kinsella is right--showing up to someone's home and ambushing them at 8 a.m. to ask questions, whether a joke or not, is in bad taste and does cross the line.  Especially after recently receiving anonymous death threats and having his 5 year old child there, frightened.

Enough is enough.

Sell the CBC.

h/t to Warren Kinsella

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sell the CBC

It's time for the government to sell the CBC.  Oh I know this post will propagate to my Twitter, then to my Facebook, and many of you will cry "Save the CBC".



I'm not going to delve into the fact the CBC public broadcaster is not opening its books to the public.  What are the fat cat bureaucrats and minions up to?  We don't know.  Yet the government (we) fund it.

And why in this day of austerity is the government propping up a media corporation?  Aren't these "Occupy" protests also about evil corporations being in the pockets of government? 

CBC is a corporation.  It says so in its name.  And it's not a small operation either.  But here's something to ponder, liberals and dippers... it's not a social program either.  It doesn't help the poor.  In fact, it hurts it because taxpayers pay over a billion a year to fund it instead of say lowering taxes, paying down debt, or for funding your other social programs. 

And yes, we can look into other program spending--military, etc., but this post is about one aspect--the CBC, so let's stay on topic.



Is the CBC an essential service to survival (food, shelter, and clothing)?  No. 

So what does the CBC do that other corporations aren't already doing?  What's so different?  Nothing.  What's different is it's a corporation funded by government. 

So why should it be treated any differently than complaining about 'other' corporations?

Is it because the CBC has such high viewership?  It doesn't.  Not even close.  So to say it unifies the country is hogwash.  Hockey Night in Canada?  Sorry, Sportsnet coverage is way better now.

Or maybe.  Maybe because it's a bias mouthpiece for liberals and dippers.  I've seen it on Channel 4 (CBC), 15 (CBC News), and heard it on 90.9 FM (CBC Radio 2).  Too many times.  But you know what, taxpayers are conservative too!  If the government was funding a conservative-leaning media corporation, like, um.. say Sun TV, liberals and dippers would cry afoul.  So, again, why is it any different the other way around?

Or maybe because the CBC fat cats support certain political parties?  Couldn't be?!


Oh, nevermind.


Gerry Nicholls is right.  Sell the CBC.  If the CBC is so important to you liberals and dippers, fund it yourselves.

And buy a share or two.




Saturday, October 15, 2011

Harper receives Ukrainian award

Absolutely well deserved.  I've never seen a political figure with such strong support of Ukraine and the Ukrainian community in Canada.  As some of you know, my grandfather emigrated from Ukraine in his twenties.


PM receives Shevchenko Medal Award

Prime Minister recognized for outstanding achievement, service and dedication to the Ukrainian-Canadian community
October 14, 2011
Toronto, Ontario

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today accepted the Shevchenko Medal Award, for his and the Government’s many contributions to the Ukrainian-Canadian community and the people of Ukraine.  The Shevchenko Medal Award is the highest form of recognition given out by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

“I am honoured to receive this prestigious award that recognizes the significant efforts our Government has made to address the needs and interests of our vibrant Ukrainian-Canadian community and to strengthen our ties with Ukraine,” said the Prime Minister.  “Our Government will continue to acknowledge and embrace the contributions of Ukrainians, their struggles for independence and their contributions to Canadian society.”

The Government has taken decisive action for this community, including passing a bill in 2008 recognizing the Holodomor as an act of genocide, upgrading community centres and social housing in Ukrainian-Canadian communities, and recognizing the internment of Ukrainian-Canadians and others during the First World War.  The Government will also continue to strengthen bilateral ties with Ukraine and help in the building of a democratic, independent and prosperous society.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress bestows the Shevchenko Medal Award every three years to recognize Canadians, institutions and organizations for their outstanding national contributions to the Ukrainian-Canadian community. Prime Minister Harper is proud and honoured to be recognized with this award this year.



PM accepts award from Ukrainian-Canadian community

October 14, 2011
Toronto, Ontario

Since Canada established diplomatic relations with Ukraine in 1992, the two countries have enjoyed close bilateral relations.  Generations of Ukrainian immigrants to Canada have forged historic ties of friendship, reinforced by shared values and interests. 

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress has been instrumental in advancing the interests of the Ukrainian-Canadian community, by promoting stronger ties between the two nations, identifying the needs of Ukrainian-Canadians and enhancing the role of the community in mainstream society.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress bestows the Shevchenko Medal Award every three years to recognize Canadians, institutions and organizations for their outstanding national contributions to the Ukrainian-Canadian community.  This year, the Congress awarded the medal to Prime Minister Stephen Harper at a tribute event – the highest form of recognition granted by the Congress.

Since 2006, the Prime Minister and the Government have:
  • Passed the Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (“Holodomor”) Memorial Day Act in 2008, making Canada one of the first countries to adopt legislation to recognize the Ukrainian Famine of 1932-33 as an act of genocide;
  • Supported democratic reforms in Ukraine, highlighted during his recent trip to Ukraine in October 2010; the Prime Minister publicly expressed Canada’s commitment to support human rights, democratic development, and free and fair elections in Ukraine;
  • Sent over 200 election observers to Ukraine for the 2010 Presidential elections;
  • Entered into historic Free Trade negotiations with Ukraine in 2010;
  • Actively supported Ukraine’s engagement with  NATO; 
  • Renewed Ukraine’s status as a country of priority for international assistance through CIDA in 2009;
  • Signed a Youth Mobility Agreement to facilitate travel and exchanges between Canadian and Ukrainian youth during the Prime Minister’s recent trip in October 2010, giving young people more opportunity to travel and work in each other’s countries;
  • Established the “Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund” in 2008, in response to years of effort by the Ukrainian-Canadian community to recognize the internment of Ukrainian-Canadians and other Canadians of Eastern European descent from 1914-1920; and
  • Upgrading community centres and social housing in Ukrainian-Canadian communities throughout the country under Canada’s Economic Action Plan, such as: the Ukrainian Home of Vita Community Centre, Fraserwood Hall for the Ukrainian National People's Home Association of Taras Shevchenko and the Ukrainian Villa Church. 
Canada is home to more than 1.2 million Ukrainian-Canadians.  In 1991, Canada was the first Western country to recognize Ukraine’s independence.  We established diplomatic relations in 1992.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Federal seat redistribution

New legislation is finally being introduced to fix the democratic imbalance in the House of Commons by adding the following seats to these growing provinces:

+7 BC
+5 Alberta
+18 Ontario

Bringing the total to 308+30=338.

But that will then leave Quebec, which has 24.4% of the population, with 23.1% of the seats.  Oh dear no!  Nevermind that they already have 25% of the seats in the Senate where BC and Alberta each have 5.7%.

Which further proves why we not only need an elected Senate, but an equal one as well.  I've mentioned before that if over the next 10 years or so, if Harper doesn't appoint folks in provinces with more than 6 Senators, with the upcoming 9 year Senatorial term, coupled with mandatory retirements, it is possible virtually to achieve provincial equality.  He could hold provinces accountable to the new terms by not appointing anyone if they don't have Senate elections.

Harper's always played the long game in politics.  I wonder if this is part of that plan.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Redford Cabinet

Hot off the presses, followed by my comments...

Alison Redford, QC, Calgary-Elbow
Premier, President of Executive Council, Chair of Agenda and Priorities

Doug Horner, Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert
Deputy Premier, President of Treasury Board and Enterprise
--Obvious choice. He's a smart guy. Especially when a lot of his support on the third ballot went to Redford.

David Hancock
, Edmonton-Whitemud
Minister of Human Services, Government House Leader
--Ooh, "Human Services". She did combine a bunch of ministries together. Good for her! No change at House Leader.

Ted Morton, Foothills-Rocky View
Minister of Energy
--Liepert out.  Morton in.  A good fit although he did a lousy job at Finance.

Verlyn Olson, Wetaskiwin-Camrose
Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Deputy Government House Leader
--No idea who this person is.

Fred Horne, Edmonton-Rutherford
Minister of Health and Wellness
--I've heard of him.  I thought Gene Zwodesky was doing a good job though. Much better than...

Ron Liepert
, Calgary-West
Minister of Finance
--Terrible Health Minister.  Will he tow the line like Morton did, or will he shake it up?  Let's hope for a shake up and cuts to the bloated bureaucracy first.

Thomas Lukaszuk, Edmonton-Castle Downs
Minister of Education
--Well that's interesting.  Why?  I have no clue.

Diana McQueen, Drayton Valley-Calmar
Minister of Environment and Water
--Water is now part of the environment and not natural resources?  Who knew?

Jonathan Denis, Calgary-Egmont
Solicitor General and Minister of Public Security; Deputy Government House Leader
--Jonathan brought much needed common sense to Housing and implemented a lot of great ideas.   He's one of the best cabinet ministers in my opinion. He's a lawyer, and although he supported Morton and Mar, his good work has paid off.
Cal Dallas, Red Deer-South
Minister of International, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Relations--That's one super ministry with one super name for an MLA.

Evan Berger, Livingstone-Macleod
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development
--Awesome!  Again, I don't know why.
Frank Oberle, Peace River
Minister of Sustainable Resource Development
--Oh, it's "Sustainable" now is it?

George VanderBurg, Whitecourt-Ste. Anne
Minister of Seniors
--What does this mean?  It's becoming a bigger job with more folks retiring now.

Ray Danyluk, Lac La Biche-St. Paul
Minister of Transportation
--Fitting that he's from that riding--where the highway of death is.  Look for much faster development of HWY 63 to Ft. Mac.

Jeff Johnson, Athabasca-Redwater
Minister of Infrastructure
--Wait a minute?  Did the Dept. of Infrastructure and Transportation just get split into two separate ones?  It looks like it.  Why?

Doug Griffiths, Battle River-Wainwright
Minister of Municipal Affairs
--Doug has good vision for building communities.  This is a good fit for him to prove himself.

Greg Weadick, Lethbridge-West
Minister of Advanced Education and Technology
--That's nice.

Jack Hayden, Drumheller-Stettler
Minister of Tourism, Parks and Recreation
--Good stuff.

Heather Klimchuk, Edmonton-Glenora
Minister of Culture and Community Services
--Go get 'em!

Manmeet Bhullar, Calgary-Montrose
Minister of Service Alberta
--Ah, the umbrella ministry.  Don't make it bloated!
So there you have it folks.  My comments on a "new era".  Leipert's budget in Spring will be telling of the direction of this machine.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Don't wanna get shot? Don't trespass and steal

These kinds of judgment rulings really piss me off.  Every person has the right to defend their property, and yes, with guns.  Here, the government is defending the criminals.  What's this farmer supposed to do, nothing?  Call the cops and wait?  Give me a friggin' break.  You don't wanna get shot?  Then don't trespass and steal.  It's not vigilantism. It's called defending your property.


Justice Monica Bast rejected the defence's argument that the shooting was impulsive, saying she believed Knight was aware to some degree what he was doing.

Knight chased and used a shot gun to fire at a man who was stealing Knight's ATV from his farm near Tees, Alta.

In the early morning of March 26, 2009, Knight found three men in his farmyard.  He jumped out of bed and gave chase clad in boxer shorts and rubber boots to a man riding Knight's all-terrain vehicle.  Knight rammed the ATV with his car and, when the man abondoned the machine and began running, Knight pulled out a shotgun, firing two rounds at him, police said.

The man was eventually caught after Knight called friends and relatives to help in the search, police said.
Crown prosecutor Jason Snider recommended Knight be sent to jail for 90 days to be served intermittently.

Snider told Justice Bast the shooting was a vigilante act and the court must send a message that behavior of this sort is wrong.
It's not wrong.  You're wrong.   Unbelievable.  Alberta would be the last place I thought this type of injustice would occur.  I guess not.

Maybe we should change our motto to "Kind of Strong and Not So Free".

Alison Redford sworn in as President of the Executive Council of Alberta

An historic moment in Alberta...


Screen capture from CBC.ca

Ontario sucks

Way to go Ontario!  Enjoy your continued have-not status under the McGuinty Liberals.  That said, many voters stayed home.  Why?  Because Hudak's PCs ran a terrible, unfocused campaign and the Liberal War Room pounced on it painting "Tea Party Tobacco Frat Boy Timmy" as a devil.  And then, Ontarians simply picked the devil they know.

Here's your theme song...

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Ontario election prediction

McGuinty and the Libs will win a majority tonight, thanks to the party's dominance of the GTA and winning back some centrist voters from Tim Hudak's PCs.   Toronto has a Conservative in the mayor's office and one at the PMO.  They did not want a trifecta with one running Queen's Park.

For Hudak, as I said, his campaign is one of the least focused I've ever seen.  All the Liberals had to do was throw him off and paint Hudak as evil and they did that and Ontarians will pick the lesser of two evils or at least the devil they know.  McGuinty is liked as a person even if you totally disagree with his decisions.

In the end, the Liberals will get about 3.5 points over the PCs but 20 seats over them.  Ontario will continue to be a have-not province and the Leafs won't make the playoffs...

Again.


Dion and insenaty

I have coined the term "insenaty" to describe politicians who agree that the Senate needs reforming but will come up with any reason not to reform it.

Former Liberal leader, Stephane Dion is no exception.

"In fact, the situation could be even worse in Canada than in the United States, as we do not have a constitutional mechanism to solve disagreements between two elected chambers claiming the same legitimacy to speak for the people," Dion said.

Um, excuse me?  So what's the current procedure, professor, because it seems you forgot?  If the Senate defeats a bill from the House, that's it.  It's done.  And that's the point!  The bill obviously doesn't satisfy enough regions of the country.
"Bill C-7, in allowing Parliament to unilaterally reform the Senate, is truly a constitutional Trojan horse," Dion said.

Anything would be better than our current 'appointment for life' system.   This whole "Trojan horse" argument is fear mongering.  Why not open the constitution for just senate reform?  Ooh, the big bad Quebec separatists are gonna be mad!  I say screw 'em.

It's ridiculous that New Brunswick has 10 senators and BC and Alberta each have 6.  It makes no sense whatsoever and to accept the status quo is just stupid. 

It's insenaty.



Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Ra Ra Ras Putin, lover of Soviet regime

No surprise here.  Vlad Putin wants to create a Eurasian Union.

This week he has unveiled a grand vision to create a “Eurasian Union” linking old Soviet neighbours, foreseeing a “powerful, supranational union, capable of becoming one of the poles of the modern world”. Coming from a former KGB colonel who described the break-up of the Soviet Union as “the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century”, his words could easily prompt fears that he wanted to resurrect the USSR. He stressed that wasn’t the case. “It would be naive to try to restore or copy what was in the past. But time dictates that we should have closer integration based on values, politics and economics,” he wrote. The Eurasian Union could provide an “economically sound and balanced partnership” with the European Union. 
The Baltic states are part of the EU.  Ukraine wanted in that too, but their current prez, Yanukovych, is reluctant and was mainly elected by Eastern Ukrainians, more integrated with Russia than Western Ukraine.  The "Stans" want balance between Russia, China, and the U.S.

But I gotta ask, remember the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States)?  What happened to that?

Regardless, from the beginning of his reign, Putin's desire all along has been to recreate the Soviet Union with himself as its head dictator.  Just watch him.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Federal stuff and provincial stuff

Lots going on politically in Canada.  Here's a quick recap and my views:

Harper Government is finally able to scrap the per vote subsidy to parties.  You support a party?  Donate and get a tax rebate.  That simple.  This will put the nail in the coffin for the Bloc, and hurt the Liberals.  Dippers and Conservatives will need to fundraise more and shouldn't have difficulty, but this will further solidify more of a two party system with the Conservatives becoming the natural governing party.  Liberals just don't have the money anymore. 

On another policy, the feds now have it where a small business will get a tax credit for every person they hire within the next year.  I just filled one of these out for one of the employees I now manage. It wasn't an easy form to complete, but we'll get $10k if approved.  We'll likely use it for more software training or profit share.  See how it works people!

Alison Redford will be sworn in as Alberta Premier on Friday.  She's already flip-flopped though, first saying she'd wait until Spring for the next Legislative session, but is now saying a Fall session will happen.  Just wondering if they'll have all that scaffolding down in the Chamber by then.  She's also appointed leadership "rival" Doug Horner to his same job as Deputy Premier, and Edmonton MLA Dave Hancock to House Leader again. Hancock apparently pulled in a lot of votes for Gary Mar in his riding.  She's also moving ahead with her promise to restore $107 million for teachers and suggested ransacking the Heritage Sustainability Fund to do that.  No debate on that though.  Who needs it when the big ATA union voted you in.  That said, a shaky start. 

In PEI, Liberal Ghiz wins again.  NDP in Manitoba will likely win.  And Ontario?  Well, if you wanted to take a course on how to beat the living pulp out of your opponent who was leading by a good margin, and then cause them to lose a pile of support over an election where your team is back in majority territory, the Ontario Liberal War Room led by Warren Kinsella would be your study case.  I hope he writes a book about it, like he has before, because it would be an interesting read.  I can't imagine how frustrated Ontario conservatives are with the Tim Hudak campaign.  It's almost comical.  Kinsella's names are a riot and the fact that I can remember them, rings true how effective he is: "Frat boy Timmy", "Tea Party Tim", "Tobacco Tim". 

Monday, October 03, 2011

Alison Redford to be new Alberta premier

While at a wedding cocktail reception on Saturday, several friends kept asking me what the results were as I was glued to my Twitter feed on my phone.  As the results came in and they were at half the polls reporting, I said she was going to win due to the inability for Gary Mar to get passed 45% and that Redford would get two-thirds of Doug Horner's second ballot choices.  It was still close, and when Mar pulled ahead by 5-6%, he still couldn't penetrate even 45%, I was pretty sure she'd win at that point.  On Twitter, Dave Rutherford was the first out of the gate stating her victory based on his sources.


Final Tally
37,101 (51.11%) Redford
35,491 (48.89%) Mar

Well, I will admit that I voted for her and Horner 2nd.  I voted for her for three reasons.  I watched the debate on Wednesday and was impressed with her strength and felt of the three candidates, she would best represent Alberta, but maybe not ideologically.  Secondly, I didn't want Mar to win as his ethics are questionable, and thirdly, Redford is said to be a liberal-progressive, which splits the PCs and is a win for Danielle Smith, who'd I'd prefer as premier.  Now, a lot more conservatives potentially will leave the PCs for the Wildrose Party, but only if Smith and Co. can prove themselves as a viable alternative.

An indication of that is only 78,176 members turned out to vote Saturday, which was an increase from the first ballot vote two weeks prior, but it is a large decrease from the 144,000 that voted in 2006 which saw Ed Stelmach shoot up the middle to win.  That's a big vacuum.

Despite all that, Redford is a relative unknown to many conservatives and I believe Albertans for the most part, will give her a shot to see what she can and cannot do.  It will be difficult for the Wildrose to paint her in a bad light while the honeymoon is on, and I thought the press release from Danielle Smith congratulating Redford on her win while slamming her when she hasn't had a chance to govern yet was in bad form.

The fall session was to start October 25th, but Redford has postponed it, a budget, and a potential election until the spring.  The Wildrose is not happy with this, but while I took a tour of the Legislature building yesterday, the tour guide apologized for the state of the Assembly Chamber itself.  I took the picture below from the public gallery to show all the scaffolding they must use to change the 600 lightbulbs to energy-saving ones as they cannot fit a scissor-lift through the doors.  As well, they are painting.  I don't see them finishing and cleaning up by October 25th.  Whether that's the reason, I really don't know, but found it interesting and coincidental under the circumstances.


As we began our tour, media were on hand, waiting for someone, and I thought perhaps she would be there.  But alas, it was Raj Sherman, newly elected Alberta Liberal leader.

Even though I voted for her, this blog, and I'm sure many others of the conservative-bent, will watch her every move over the next while.  She'd be smart to introduce some conservative policies to keep that camp involved in her party, especially on dumbing-down or scrapping the Alberta Human Rights Commission, but her promise to restore $100 million to education for teachers within a couple weeks seems bold and decisive, but in reality, it seems like a bit of a stretch to accomplish.  If she does it, you'll note it is without any budgetary debate, which indicates to me, not much will really change with the way the PCs govern.

I remember just a week and a half ago when I saw her at an Edmonton downtown lounge sitting and having a conversation with a man, possibly an advisor.  I thought to go up to her and wish her luck, but I didn't, because who knew at that point she'd ever become our premier.

But she did.


Friday, September 30, 2011

The new Alberta premier

Tomorrow, members and last-minute members of the PC Party of Alberta will be casting their ballot in the run-off vote for leader of the party to select one of the three remaining candidates:

Doug Horner
Gary Mar
Alison Redford





I watched a little bit of the Wednesday night debate and I throughout, I simply asked myself, who would I prefer, and who seemed like a premier to me.   And I would say by far Alison Redford looked like someone I wouldn't mind representing Alberta.  After the sudden loss of her mother--she displayed herself as dignified, tough, calm, and well spoken. There have been comparisons to Margaret Thatcher, but I don't know about that.  I may put an "X" for her at the last minute.

Watching Gary Mar only made me not want to vote for him more--he seemed smug and totally uninspiring.  Doug Horner seems like a smart guy with some good ideas, but those ideas appear convoluted and unclear--it's difficult to know where he stands.  I'm tired of cliche platitudes.

All that said, all three have been at the cabinet table of this PC party.  When questionable policies came up and passed, they weren't stopping them and are therefore, part of the problem with this party.  One of them being is also some ethical questions for Mr. Mar. 

This party is intrusive, off-track and out of touch.  None of the candidates have convinced me otherwise.   There will be no change in how this party governs.  They have become Liberals in every way.  And as Peter Lougheed once said, "A Liberal is a Liberal, is a Liberal." 

40 years is enough.  The last seven have been completely uninspiring, directionless, and damaging.  It's time to fire them next election.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

From another planet that Janet Napolitano

"Yes, Canada is not Mexico, it doesn't have a drug war going on, it didn't have 6,000 homicides that were drug-related last year," she said. "Nonetheless, to the extent that terrorists have come into our country or suspected or known terrorists have entered our country across a border, it's been across the Canadian border. There are real issues there." 
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to CTV News.  Then when asked if she was referring to the September 11 hijackers. She said: "Not just those but others as well." 
Now, just when both countries are looking at easing border traffic and creating a North American defence perimeter, if not hiring more and more border guards were enough, now they want to build selective fences along the Canada-U.S. border.

What?!?  Such false optics here to make it look like Obama and his moronic Secretary are doing something about terrorism.  I gotta tell ya, I'm not reading a lot of stories about how pourous the border is, especially between Alberta and Montana.  If anything, I know many Americans who'd much prefer to live in Canada now due to the disastrous policies and economics.

Back in 1963, while in West Berlin, President JFK lambasted the Soviets for the construction of the Berlin Wall.  Over 24 years later, Ronald Reagan demanded, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

Whomever becomes the next U.S. president, I'd ask our Prime Minister to tell him or her the same thing.




Wednesday, September 28, 2011

O Canada! Our flag and reputation

The Conservative government is introducing a bill that will make it illegal for someone to prevent you from flying the Canadian flag.

I didn't know this was an issue, but apparently it is.  That said, let's call this bill for what it's real purpose is... to stop some overzealous nationalist folks in Quebec to prevent you from flying the Maple Leaf in their neighbourhood.  There, I said it.

Patriotism is obviously great and all, but I wonder if it infringes on the freedom for private multi-unit residence boards to ensure a level of aesthetics to their choosing.   Many do not allow political signs,  signs of any kind, or certain tacky decor.

I guess the flag will be the exception, and only when it is displayed properly.  There are specific rules for that as well.  So what if you're displaying the flag improperly, can someone call you out on that and what will the government do then?

In my many travels in the U.S., I saw a larger percentage of home than in Canada that very proudly and properly displayed the American Stars and Stripes.  But meh, that's not our style and that's fine.

But speaking of Canada, apparently, we have the best overall reputation in the world.  Yay us!

The Reputation Institute study measures the trust, esteem, admiration and good feelings the public holds towards 50 countries, as well as perceptions of peoples' quality of life, safety and attention to the environment. Results from 42,000 respondents worldwide ranked Canada first, Sweden next, followed by Australia, Switzerland and New Zealand.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Edmonton's Mayor Mandel may not be an idiot

A week ago, I called Edmonton Mayor Mandel an idiot for suggesting that the current old metal Walterdale bridge that links south with north over the river could remain next to the new modern bridge and be used to host a restaurant.  It really is an idiotic idea and will block the view of the new bridge from the west.

The first proposal of the new replacement bridge had three one way lanes, which when I first saw it, thought that was definitely idiotic considering there are four lanes of regular traffic and one bus/taxi lane merging onto it and then once over, spreading out to four main lanes again.  It's one of the top bottlenecks in town on workers' commutes to downtown in the morning.


So now, our Mayor has pushed back on the planner's three-lane proposal for four lanes.

"We've asked them to make it four lanes," said Mayor Stephen Mandel.  "It's silliness to build it three lanes.  I can't emphasize how much money we're going to save by doing it now." "You can make it just as wide but have now more space to make the fourth lane work, so it doesn't cost you more money."

Wow, common sense.  Mandel may not be an idiot afterall.

Who'll be Alberta premier?

As Alberta PC members vote in the final round advance polls this week and in the final vote on Saturday October 1st, there are rumours that 2nd place finisher, Alison Redford has some momentum over Gary Mar.  Gary's campaign has radio ads out with general platitude statements, while Doug Horner's keep calling me and for the first time I think I've ever seen, political lawn signs out for a leadership race.


Today, Gary Mar said he's got a four month action plan once he becomes premier.  That means the election won't be until around March 2012.  But part of this action plan isn't about governing, it's about getting his party in order with nominating candidates and election planning.

But wait a sec, if he's not sitting in the legislature until he is an elected MLA, who's the actual premier?  Is that Ed Stelmach still, or someone else?  Am I missing something here?  Will this premier then simply follow Gary's "action plan"?

Albertans deserve to know.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The "Return" of Rasputin

Surprise surprise, but "interim" Russian President Dimitri Medvedev is stepping down.  And golly gee, guess who's gonna "replace" him?  And guess who's gonna be Prime Minister again?

And now with two, six year term limits, old Rasputin, will likely be in power for 12 years.  And maybe he'll have term limits dropped altogether so he becomes a dictator again.  Wouldn't surprise me.

With the Russian language and influence continuing to dominate Eastern Ukraine, let alone "former" Soviet republics, and the Kremlin's ability to turn on and off oil and gas taps at will, Russia will surely continue to dominate with even more vigour than before over much of Asia.

I'll never forget what one of my distant cousins in Ukraine wrote me back in 1991 after Ukraine gained "independence" from Russia (paraphrasing):  "It's amazing how all these former communists are now all of sudden so-called pro-democrats.  Nothing has really changed."

If anyone in the democratic world ever believed that former KGB boss Vladimir Putin was all pro-democracy, foreign policy-friendly, and pro-capitalist, they need to have their head examined.

The return of Rasputin is upon us.

How will this affect Canada?  Well, with Russians continually pushing their military and claim in the disputed Arctic, possibly into Canadian waters, it's only going to get worse under more Putin rule.  

And gee, you wonder why one of the first things Prime Minister Harper did in 2006 was push for more Canadian military presence in the North and continues to do so?

"Oh those Russians"

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Gary Mar and integrity

Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason has rightfully questioned leading PC leadership candidate Gary Mar's ethics in receiving a hefty severance package a year after he became the Alberta envoy to Washington, DC.

- While health minister, he paid an aide $374,000 between 2001 and 2004 yet no evidence of services were actually provided

- His envoy salary was $264,000, then deferred his severance package, but for only a year where he received $478,000. 

- And recently, his campaign was buying memberships.  While not against party rules, it surely draws into question his tactics and optics.

Gary Mar says we should instead focus on the future.  I couldn't agree more.  You and your ethics are about to be that future, Mr. Mar, and we have every right to question your past.  Don't think you can deflect and hide.

Is this the kind of premier you want?

Unite the right in Alberta

Kevin Libin from the National Post explores a new Blue Committee led by conservative stalwart Ken Boessenkool to unite the two right-of-centre parties.

I just don't see this happening for a very long time, if it all, for a few reasons:

1.  There is no threat from the Liberals or NDP to forming government, especially the Liberals who saw their own exodus of brain power to the 'newish' Alberta Party.  With no threat, there is no fear from Wildrose supporters to stay put.

2.  Therefore, it's not the same situation at the federal level when the Canadian Alliance and PC Parties finally joined forces.  The expediency of a "Paul Martin juggernaut" was a strong motivator back then.

3.  The PC Party, save a few policies and cabinet ministers, is mostly a Red Tory party.  It is NOT right-of-centre, despite what some liberal bloggers say.  It is essentially a liberal party.  Finding common ground on key Wildrose principles likes property rights, small government, and democratic reform, are no where on the radar for the PCs.

4.  Boessenkool's prediction that next election, the PCs could be in a minority situation and then form a coalition with the Liberals is laughable at best and that the Wildrose should fear that.  Actually, Ken, it would be an ideal situation and would further invigorate true conservatives to join the Wildrose.

5.  When the Wildrose Party becomes official opposition next election with somewhere between 12 and 20 seats, Danielle Smith will be in the Legislature, garner more attention and distinguish itself from the PCs.  That will be the launching pad for more donations and further support.

Therefore, this Blue Committee is premature and simply an attempt by PCs to swallow the Wildrose, but the same folks entrenched in the PC party and government at the bureaucratic level all need to be replaced, which takes a lot of effort to change, yet it's healthy for our democracy.  I may be in favour of a merger if it was called simply "Conservative" like the federal party but it would need to adopt more democratic and fiscally conservative policies.


Hudak: "once they taste my pulled pork, I think I can turn them around"

You can't help but read it another way!  Who the heck is running the Tim Hudak campaign in Ontario?  It should be a lesson for political science students on "what not to do", or "how to have a insurmountable lead then lose it in 30 days". 

When I was in Mississauga on business throughout June, I heard the radio ads, I saw the TV ads.  They didn't do much for me.  The messaging and policy were all over the place.  Chain gangs? Is that what the average person thinks about?  It wasn't simple and clear. 

The Liberal War Room led by Warren Kinsella has been pounding away at every misstep and questionable quote the PCs have given to the media and now the Liberals lead in the polls.  The "foreign workers" quote is probably the most telling.

So now, Tim goes on radio and challenges the two other leaders to a BBQ cookoff

“I am laying down the gauntlet, I’m throwing down the gloves, I’m saying I’m going to challenge Andrea Horwath and Dalton McGuinty to a barbecue contest to see who people would rather have,” said Hudak.

“I just don’t believe this poll. Once they taste my ribs, once they taste my pulled pork, I think I can turn them around,” he said.

“Don’t believe the polls till you have the pulled pork.”
Seriously?  This counts for leadership?  "Pulled pork"?

McGuinty will be premier for another four years and Ontarians will be hit with a carbon tax and continue their "have not" provincial status.