Friday, November 22, 2013

Duffy Senate Expense Scandal - The RCMP Report

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

From the RCMP Report...

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What Justin Trudeau said...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 21, 2013

I voted for the smartest person

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

The Issues:

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

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

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

My vote:

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

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

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

But please vote!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

Don Iveson

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

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

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

Notable Councillor Candidates off the top of my head:

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

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

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

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Why Vladimir Putin is the smartest politician of our time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Either way, Putin still wins, Obama loses.

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

Monday, August 12, 2013

Alberta .05 BAC law: no impact?

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

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

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

h/t Dave Breakenridge

Thursday, August 08, 2013

CRTC denies Sun News Network

Time to dissolve the useless CRTC.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Alberta justice: guilty until proven innocent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 29, 2013

Taser news updates

Don't think I forgot about Tasering.  There's been some news lately in Canada.

Remember that Polish immigrant at the Vancouver airport that was Tasered and then died as a result?  The RCMP officer charged in the case was found not-guilty of perjury.

And now the incident on a Toronto streetcar of an 18 year old man wielding a knife inside the car threatening people is top news in Canada.  Reports show that after the car stopped and people panicked to get out, about a dozen police arrived, the man standing inside at the front of the car was then asked by gun-drawn police to put down the knife several times.  Supposedly, the man then shouted at police "You're a f____g pussy" and still didn't put the knife down moved forward then received three gun shots, then six more and went down.

The controversy is three fold:

1.  Why were there shots at all if there was no real eminent threat, despite the profanity?  It's said a female officer was standing next to the shooting officer with her arms folder?  Couldn't the dozen or so officers on scene have stormed the man and apprehended him?

2.  Why were six additional shots fired at the man if he was already shot three times?  Why did other officers pull the shooting officer away after the six additional shots?

3.  Why was he Tasered after nine gunshots and having fallen to the floor?  Or why wasn't he Tasered in the first place?  Or why not just apprehended using other techniques, heck even pepper spray?  Aren't police trained in these things?

As the investigation continues, pay close attention citizens.  I don't think the 18 year old man deserved death on the spot.  The shooting officer has been suspended with pay.  Will he face criminal charges?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Do the Shuffle!

— Stephen Harper, prime minister;  Glad he's still there.
— Bernard Valcourt, minister of aboriginal affairs and northern development;  Who?— Rob Nicholson, minister of national defence;  Moved.  He'll be competent. — Peter MacKay, minister of justice and attorney general of Canada;  Moved.  Being a lawyer, perfect position.
— Rona Ambrose, minister of health;  She's better at intergovernmental relations but she'll do well here.— Diane Finley, minister of public works and government services;  Good fit.— John Baird, minister of foreign affairs;  Same. Excellent fit.  — Tony Clement, president of the Treasury Board;  Same.  Meh.— Jim Flaherty, minister of finance;  Same.  Irish eyes are smilin'.— Peter Van Loan, government leader in the House of Commons;  Same.  Meh.—Jason Kenney, minister of employment and social development;  New.  He's one of the most competent ministers.— Gerry Ritz, minister of agriculture and agri-food;  Still?— Christian Paradis, minister of international development and minister for La Francophonie;  Sure.— James Moore, minister of industry;  Moved. Finally moved from heritage.— Denis Lebel, minister of infrastructure, communities and intergovernmental affairs and minister of the economic development agency of Canada for the regions of Quebec;  Sure.— Leona Aglukkaq, minister of the environment, minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and minister for the Arctic Council;  Environment?  Ok, we'll see.— Lisa Raitt, minister of transport;  Sure.— Gail Shea, minister of fisheries and oceans; Sure.
— Julian Fantino, minister of veterans affairs; Same.— Steven Blaney, minister of public safety;  Who?— Ed Fast, minister of international trade;  Who?— Joe Oliver, minister of natural resources;  Sure.— Kerry-Lynne Findlay, minister of national revenue;  Ok.— Shelly Glover, minister of Canadian heritage and official languages;  Ok.— Chris Alexander, minister of citizenship and immigration;  Good.— Kellie Leitch, minister of labour and minister of status of women;  Good.— Maxime Bernier, minister of state for small Business and Tourism, and Agriculture;  He's back!— Lynne Yelich, minister of state for foreign affairs and consular;  Ok.— Gary Goodyear, minister of state for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario; Who?— Rob Moore, minister of state for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency;  But he's from BC?— John Duncan, minister of state and chief government whip;  Ok.—Tim Uppal, minister of state for multiculturalism;  Perfect.— Alice Wong, minister of state for seniors;  Who?— Bal Gosal, minister of state for sport; Who?—Kevin Sorenson, minister of state for Finance;  Good.— Pierre Poilievre, minister of state for democratic reform;  Yoy!— Candice Bergen, minister of state for social development;  And Murphy Brown?— Greg Rickford, minister of state for science and technology, and Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario;  Who?— Michelle Rempel, minister of state for western economic diversification.  Let's see what you can do!

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Conservative Exodus 3:1?

"Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God." - Exodus 3:1.
With the recent announcements by Alberta Conservative caucus members Ted Menzies and Diane Ablonczy, plus Senate Majority Leader Marjory Le Breton all stepping down soon or later, does this constitute the beginning of an Exodus against Prime Minister Stephen Harper, or simply many have served so long they thought it was time to go?

Let's have a look-see:

Diane Ablonczy -- She's been through it all!  Part of the Western Canada Concept back in the 80's, she then  was elected as a Reform MP in 1993, then years later, absorbed with the Canadian Alliance. She ran for the leadership wanting to unite the CA and PC parties, but Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay did that and the Conservative Party was born.  Her resume in Parliament is impressive--twenty years as an MP and on committees and junior cabinet roles.  I think this is a milestone for her and not part of any Exodus.  She'll stick around for two more years.  This is a pretty standard heads-up announcement to give potential replacements candidates time to organize.

Ted Menzies -- Since 2006 he's been appointed Parliamentary Secretary for La Francophonie (despite not speaking any French), and Parl. Sec. for Finance.  He's announcing he's not seaking re-election.  Again, another heads up move two years out from 2015.

Marjory Le Breton -- She's been around working in the PCs since the Diefenbaker years. Appointed to the Senate under Mulroney in 1993, she was originally opposed to the CA-PC merger but then saw the inevitable and came on board.  Harper then made her the Government Leader in the Senate and she's sat on a zillion committees and boards.  With the recent senate scandals, her being 73, now is probably a good time to step down as senate leader and let someone else do the job and transition with him or her in the next two years before she must retire.

So all in all, I don't see anything out of the ordinary.  All three have been quite supportive of Harper. I think it's all typical media hype regarding a so-called "exodus".  Parliament is not in session.  It's summer.  All three have legitimate reasons for not continuing in their roles after 2015--primarily giving time for others to step up in the next two years.

Now whether Harper has led the flock to the far side of the wilderness is another story.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

CANADA is awesome!

Happy 146th, Canada! God keep our land glorious and free!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Free Speech Victory!

Finally.  To me, this is a huge victory for those who believe in free speech.  With this repeal of Section 13, no longer, well in about a year anyway, no longer can someone take you to the Canadian human rights tribunal, the kangaroo court that it is, over their hurt feelings regarding something hateful or contempt you said about them or their culture online.

These tribunals aren't under the same judicial process like our court system and frankly, don't have a place in our society.

(And when crazy people like Shirish Chotalia get appointed to chair the thing and abuse their power, it makes you cringe that someone with such erratic behaviour even had access to such power.)

If you're feelings are hurt so bad, then either ignore it and move on with your life, debate, or use the media and courts like everyone else.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Preston Manning's plea to stop the insenaty

In a bold, open letter to all senators, former Reform/Canadian Alliance leader Preston Manning afronted them with the growing mood amongst democratic Canadians that the problem with not moving forward on senate reform is caused by the current senators themselves who've done nothing on it.  This, despite the relatively recent Conservative majority and a bulk of whom were appointed by recommendation of Prime Minister Harper on the basis that they would reform it.

With a recent Nanos poll indicating almost half of Canadians want the Senate reformed and just under that amount want it abolished, with few taking the status quo, it's the abolish side that is growing, probably because reforming it is seemingly less and less likely.

On this blog, I've gone on and on for years regarding politicians who say we reform the senate but offer no ideas, solutions or say it's difficult to do so there's no point.  This behaviour I've coined "insenaty".  Manning has basically painted the entire red chamber in asylum-white while senators sit back and strap themselves in straight-jackets whining that reform is a fruitless exercise.  Sigh.

I've offered my ideas over and over.  I prefer reforming it to abolishing it.  But even I've become frustrated, as I see little action despite my acknowledgement of Stephen Harper's term-limit proposal and preference for appointing elected senators (albeit only from Alberta thus far), he's the most reformist of all PMs in our history.

And as my frustration grows with my age, I lean toward perhaps abolishing it to then start from scratch may be the preferred route to rid the upper chamber of the "Ottawashed" and replace it with fresh electors, accountable to you, the voter, and not themselves.

Popular Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall now prefers abolishing it.  That says something right there.  I no longer see him suffering from insenaty.  His mind is clear.  Perhaps it is I and others who suffer after continually bashing our heads against the wall, expecting the same result.

As Manning said in his letter, even after decades of the infinite hours spent by countless people on the issue of senate reform, essentially the patience runs out, and it is time the Prime Minister, fed up with the complacency, proposes to free us from the chains and ends the thing.

At least then, finally, we can stop the insenaty.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Edmonton's mayoral race is hot!

Diotte, Leibovici, and now Iveson have entered the race.  All three are quite similar in social libertarian and on social views such as affordable housing.  Diotte and Iveson want to focus more on core services such as roads, although Iveson tends toward pet-projects from time-to-time.  Leibovici's Liberal views are very similar to Mandel.  While many of the lines are blurred on where the city should spend or cut back on, it will be up to them to communicate those specific policies effectively. 

From my cheap seats, Iveson appears to be positioning himself between Diotte and Leibovici.  I think it's too early for him to have entered the race and wished he would have waited.  While he'll connect with younger folks, with only 1/5 of Edmonton voters casting their ballots in the civic race, younger folks don't vote as much as seniors but they may split the vote between leftish Leibovici and rightish Diotte.  It's a gamble.  Leibovici is well known and has lots of political experience with extensive Liberal connections.  Diotte is also well known, but is cast as an anti-arena guy, which isn't entirely true as he was for a new arena, just not under the agreed-to fiscal framework with the Katz Group.  While his main supporters are likely federal Conservatives and provincial Wildrosers, his challenge will also be to show that he has vision and is actually more moderate than what the general voting public perceive from his days as a writer for the conservative-leaning Edmonton Sun newspaper.

I don't think there'll be much mudslinging between the three as none are an incumbant mayor and I think they respect each other enough.  They'll have to have what Mandel had and that's long-term vision, not just short-term fix-a-pothole kind of stuff and work hard to grab media and voters' attentions with bold policies that differentiates them.

Because overall, they are all quite similar for the most part.  It honestly wouldn't bother me if any of them were mayor.  What's too bad is at least two of them won't be on council anymore as all were effective councillors and represented their respective constituents quite well.

With Mandel at the helm, the city underwent a huge transformation in exciting, creative, and smart plans to plan to convert the City Centre Airport into a modern green community, move forward with a massive LRT expansion, expand affordable housing, and of course, revitalize the downtown including the new Quarters district, adding more park and walk space, and building the new arena and surrounding district.  All of these plans, however, have and will put the city further in debt in the short-term. But the long-term vision is to not have the city expand outward but build up inward as is planned so not as much is spent on new surrounding infrastructure, but create a more dense tax-base and foot traffic so we don't expand outward beyond our means--a short term pain for long term gain vision.

With that, all of these projects are approved and moving forward, whatever the views of the next mayor are do not matter so much on those issues.  That said, there's a feeling I'm detecting in this city that we need to reign-in any new big projects for the time being and focus on getting spending under control and core services become the priorities.

I haven't seen any polls, but on a hunch, I'd say the results will be:

1. Leibovici (40-45%)
2. Diotte (30-35%)
3. Iveson (15-20%)
4. Others (10-15%)

I'm known to be dead-wrong on most of my predictions, but one thing is for sure, as this is the first Edmonton mayoral race with no incumbant running in a very long time, it's going to be very interesting to see how these three candidates position themselves.

One more thing, if anyone else major is thinking of entering the race at this point, I'd advise against it. Too crowded now with these three very good candidates.

Monday, May 27, 2013

More Insenaty! Trudeau and LeBreton

Senator Marjorie LeBreton thinks if we can't reform it, we should abolish it.  Well, we've been trying to reform it since confederation and I highly doubt the supreme court will overturn the constitution to abolish it, so why make statements like that?  Unless there's another sneaky legal way around it, I don't think I'm off in saying abolition is near impossible.  Abolition is not Conservative Party policy, so it's a bit shocking to hear her say this. It's clear "insenaty".

As well, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau makes remarks to La Presse that he wouldn't want to abolish the senate because Quebec has 24 seats in the senate and provinces like Alberta only six, that it's to Quebec's advantage, that abolishing it is "demagoguery", "we'll have to improve it."  Well, how, Justin?  Again, he's suffering from "insenaty".

But then just now, Alberta Premier Alison Redford had posted this on Facebook/Twitter in response to Justin.

"I am disappointed by Justin Trudeau's comments. There is no need to pit Alberta and British Columbia against other regions. We need an elected, equal Senate that is accountable to Canadians."
Well, THANK YOU Premier Redford for saying the correct thing here! Despite all you and your party's faults, this is a clear message and you don't suffer from "insenaty".

And, I'll continue to say this again and again... while I don't think he masterminded a senate expense scandal, I think this all fits within Harper's long-game plan to draw continued attention to the senate, to reform it, and the need to make it accountable. How?

The Hatrock's Cave Canadian Senate Reform Plan Proposal (a.k.a. The HCCSRPP):

  • Sixty-six senators:  six senators per province, two per territory, each representing a provincial/territorial region based on geography/environment, infrastructure/economy, and not necessarily population, and serve 8-9 year terms
  • Three senators per province elected every 4-5 years in conjunction with provincial elections OR with 4 year fixed federal election.
How hard is it for these politicians who continually display "insenaty" to propose something simple like this?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Insenaty! It's back! Senate accountability at the forefront.

Like I said a long time ago, I've always held the belief that Prime Minister Harper made interesting appointments to the Senate in order to draw much more attention to it.

Who knew that former CTV journalists now senators Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin would be at the forefront of that attention, and investigated by former colleague Robert Fife. (Nevermind Senator Patrick Brazeau and his current charge).

So now everyone is saying that senators need more accountability on their expenses.  Well, duh. Welcome to the debate guys.  This isn't new news.  I could go back into history and show you all the abuses by members of the "sleepy chamber" until the cows come home.

But I know an excellent way to hold senators accountable!  Elect them!   So anyone who says we need accountability in the Senate without saying we should elect them is experiencing what I call "insenaty".  It's the thought process involved in wanting something changed with the senate without actually wanting senate reform.

And further to that, on the left hand, we have NDP leader Tom Mulcair, who has questions about his past as well, continually saying we should abolish the senate.  Well of course the NDP would say that.  It's the easy answer here, isn't it?  They had one member in there appointed a while ago by Trudeau.  They'll never win the House, unless they try and sneak what ever version of proportional representation through in order to sneak into power.  Abolishing the Senate is a daunting constitutional change, and frankly, dangerous to our democracy even though the Senate is essentially an appointed body.  Can you imagine an NDP government without any check and balance to the crazy legislation they'd pass in the House?  Well that's exactly what they want.  Don't be fooled folks!

So when you read or hear someone calling for senator accountability, ask yourself:  "Why aren't they asking for them to be elected?"

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Edmonton Mayor Mandel not running again

After 3 terms in office, Stephen Mandel will not run again.  And why would he?  No one can say Mandel didn't have vision.  I think he can be proud of leading Edmonton forward.  Whether it was rapid LRT expansion, City Centre Airport lands, old community revitalization, affordable housing, or downtown revitalization, the big thing everyone will remember, his legacy, was his strong leadership in getting a deal done for the new downtown hockey arena district, which had final City Council approval last week.

The New Arena

Whether you like the arena deal or not, you must admit his dealings with the Katz Group, was politically astute. When the Katz Group asked for millions in annual money from the City, Mandel stood his ground, and it appeared at times that Mandel had the support of absolutely every voter in town.  Edmontonians are resilient, strong citizens who don't like to be pushed around and Mandel seemed to personify that character when he called Katz's bluff.

My take on the arena is that we definitely do need a new one and downtown is the best place.  We have the 2nd oldest arena in the NHL.  The current Coliseum was not designed for concert sound and the concert sound is awful.  The seats are too small.  The upper bowl is almost dangerously steep.  The concourse is way too narrow and again, dangerous.  The food available is crap.


But one thing he forgot... potholes.  The city streets were atrocious this year.  Visitors from Kazakhstan said their roads are better.

World Expo?  After seeing the long-lasting effects it had on Vancouver until some actual long-term development actually happened, I thought was a futile bid.  Maybe we should wait until we have the LRT in place around the city and the arena and museum are done.  And maybe that gondola and funicular.  Then we'll have some neat things to show off.  Don't get me wrong, our River Valley is a gem and a jewel, but downtown is where the action is in regards to Expos.

So while seemingly pet-projects got the city administration's attention, Mandel lost touch with the citizens in our view that neglecting the basics was not appreciated enough.

My Voting History

A one-term Ward 1 (West) councillor, I voted for him then, running on a fiscal, community-oriented platform.  When he ran against Mayor Bill Smith and Ward 3 Councillor Robert Noce, where many thought Noce would win, I voted for Mandel and he won.  The next two times, I would not.  Seeing city taxes continually go up in exchange for more potholes, it seemed Mandel lacked focus on getting the basics done.  This prompted semi-serious challenges from conservative-type candidates, but none of them even came close.  No councillors were stupid enough to go up against Mandel either.

It's no secret that Mandel is a Liberal and sometimes he made that clear depending on who he was attacking.  At times though, he sounded whiny when begging for money from the feds or the provincial PCs.

Mandel's Vision - Downtown, Downtown, Downtown

However, his third-term proved to me that he did have vision.  Edmonton's taxes continually go up primarily because we are sprawling faster than most North American cities and the infrastructure to maintain that is massive on a relative population scale.

Mandel's vision was primarily on downtown revitalization.  And rightfully so.  When I see old photos of Jasper Avenue, it was packed with people!  It was bustling.  It was exciting.  Transit, cars, people, shops, entertainment.  But then we built more and more communities and roads outward and onward.  All the while, we forgot downtown and downtown suffered.

As a resident and employee of downtown, I am happy to live, work, and play here.  I've seen the rapid progress in the last 6 years as something to be very excited about.  104th Street especially and the more and more restaurants, stores, pubs that are popping up all around have brought people back downtown.  The revamped Art Gallery, the new Royal Museum approval, and The Quarters district in East Downtown will all bring people here and visitors, especially on the business side, don't need to travel far to experience what the city has to offer.  Also, with the airport gone, removing the height restrictions, much taller condominiums can and have now finally been built and that has had a massive impact on the downtown community as a whole.  Plus the planned community for the now named Blatchford area on the airport lands is another thing to be very excited about.  Picture recent grads and young families living and playing there and folks taking a short LRT ride to downtown to work.

And with LRT expansion going to happen to those areas, Millwoods, West End, Northwest, and continuing South and eventually to the International Airport it's going to be even easier to get downtown to work and play.

There are no downsides to a thriving downtown.  Having a downtown that grows "up" massively decreases the need for more outlying infrastructure and thus never ending gross tax hikes.  That's not to say taxes won't continually go up with at least inflation, but it reduces the potential burden.  Not only that but the environmental impact to outlying farmland can be reduced, commuter traffic is reduced, etc., etc.

Mandel can be proud of this massive accomplishment.  We're not done yet, we never are, but he certainly set the direction for Edmonton and area to be placed for greatness in years to come.

Whomever fills his shoes will be best suited not to tamper with that vision that Edmontonians have become accustomed to.  I think now, however, we need to get back to some basics while all these projects kick off. Let's be smart.  And I'd be happy with any one of these Councillors: Kerry Diotte (already declared), Don Iveson, or Karen Liebovici.

Thank you, Mr. Mandel and best of luck in your future endeavours.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Justin's new ad

It just doesn't have that zip.  It lacks chutzpah.  I'm not embedding it here because you've probably already seen it.

Let's take a look-see at what he said in just 30 seconds:

"I've worked hard to win the confidence of the people of Papineau".  

FOURTH WORST VOTING RECORD IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS.  Doesn't sound like you're showing up to work there, Justin.  And just because you got voted in as an MP doesn't mean squat.  All MPs won the confidence of at least the plurality of their constituents. Doesn't make you more qualified than the others.

"I'm a son."  

Well no kidding.  So are ALL MALES of 99.99...% of all animal species.  It's an obvious snide reminder that you're the son and riding the coat tails of your father.  Like we didn't know.

"I'm a father."

That's super.  Again, so are millions of Canadian men.

"I'm a teacher."

Not to knock substitute teachers that provide a valuable service, which include friends of mine trying to become full-time teachers, you weren't full-time, but a substitute.

Just like you are as a Member of Parliament and leader of the Liberal Party.

A substitute.

Monday, April 08, 2013

The Iron Lady

The Iron Lady, she was known as, was one of the stalwart figures of English conservatism.  During the 1980's, at a time when the U.S., Canada, and Britain all had conservative leaders, you can undoubtedly know that both Ronald Reagan and Brian Mulroney admired her big-time.

If only more conservatives could live up to her defense of liberty.  Her strong defence of the Falkland Islands, her stance against world socialism during the Cold War, are the pillars in which she help define our future in the Western world.

Rest in peace, Baroness Thatcher.  And thank you.

Here's a list of some of her famous statements, which I wholeheartedly agree with:

  • "And I will go on criticising Socialism, and opposing Socialism because it is bad for Britain — and Britain and Socialism are not the same thing. (...) It’s the Labour Government that have brought us record peace-time taxation. They’ve got the usual Socialist disease — they’ve run out of other people’s money." - In a speech to the Conservative Party Conference (10 October, 1975) [1]
  • "Some Socialists seem to believe that people should be numbers in a State computer. We believe they should be individuals. We are all unequal. No one, thank heavens, is like anyone else, however much the Socialists may pretend otherwise. We believe that everyone has the right to be unequal but to us every human being is equally important." - In a speech to the Conservative Party Conference (10 October, 1975) [2]
  • "A man's right to work as he will, to spend what he earns, to own property, to have the State as servant and not as master: these are the British inheritance. They are the essence of a free economy. And on that freedom all our other freedoms depend." - In a speech to the Conservative Party Conference (10 October, 1975) [3]
  • "They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations, because there is no such thing as an entitlement unless someone has first met an obligation." - Interview 23 September 1987, as quoted in by Douglas Keay, Woman's Own, 31 October 1987, pp. 8–10. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Insenaty now!

Back in the 90's, there were Liberal senators who were known convicted criminals and still remained as senators. When the Reform Party brought this up, along with senate reform, not much attention was paid by the media about any of this really. The public was unaware and no one really did anything about it, not even the governing Liberals, until years later when the senate finally governed themselves on this long-standing issue.

Oh, but NOW, when three Conservative senators are on the boilerplate for varying issues, and the governing party immediately deals with the issues, now, NOW the media (lead by the CBC) and the NDP opposition get all hot and bothered and call to abolish the senate.

I'm not saying that Brazeau's alleged actions are justified but he has the right to due trial.  With the PM immediately removing him from caucus and the Conservative senate majority putting him on-leave, that shows swift accountability by the governing caucus.

On former CTV journalists turned senators, Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin, their lavish expense claims and residency issues aren't new to the senate's ongoing accountability problems. 

You know though, right from the get-go seven years ago, Harper has made us all pay more attention to the senate on numerous occasions. By his first appointment of a floor crossing Liberal, then doing no appointments, then doing a record number of appointments, while at the same time trying to get provinces to elect senators in waiting, setting term limits, people have been paying way more attention lately, and so we call for more action to try and reform the upper chamber. 

Sometimes I wonder if these senator issues now aren't a blessing in disguise to the master plan of either abolishing the senate and starting over or Harper's incremental plan of changing it without opening the constitution.

In the meantime, I want insenaty now! Insenaty now!

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Alberta's Redford PCs: I can't keep up!

Friends of Hatrock's Cave Political Blog,

My apologies for not posting as frequently as I used to.  I literally cannot keep up with the crap policies, scandals, and b.s. spin coming from the Redford PCs.  It's become so daunting to post on the high frequency of issues to comment on that I've simply resorted to retweeting what many others are already saying about this government.

I will say this.  I was no big fan of the Chretien Liberal government.  But I think this Alberta PC Redford government is probably the worst one I have ever experienced in my life.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Alberta Budget Choice website sets us up for tax grab

What a joke.  We are being setup for a tax grab.  There's no doubt no whatsoever. is the website that lets us Albertans make decisions about the budget.  What a futile attempt.  Do you think they actually use this info?  They're duping us.

Ok, so I picked the oil price as it stands today ($62/barrel) and selected to cut everything they showed, without raising taxes, yet I still have a $1.7 billion deficit.

But wait a minute, there were so many others areas that could be cut that weren't presented.  MLA salaries?  Expenses?   Bureaucracy?

In fact, of the $42 billion that the Alberta gov't spends now, they can only find $3 billion (7%) to present on this website for cuts?  Am I missing something here?  This gov't is drunk on spending.

Reintroducing health care premiums is dumb. It's just a tax that really hurts the lower income the most.  As many companies used to cover this, it would dig into small businesses and employees.  It's not even an insurance program--just money that goes into general revenue and millions are spent on collecting it.

Increasing the corporate tax rate for big companies would drive them out, actually reducing revenues.

Introducing a sales tax?  Only if you eliminate the income tax or reduce it from 10 to 5%.  As well, there's a lot of folks from other provinces who buy big ticket items like vehicles in Alberta just to avoid the PST/HST.  Say goodbye to that injection into the economy.

So what's the answer?

Simple... cut more crap than just the 7%.  Have the guts to cut.  It's obvious Alison Redford won't "do whatever it takes".  They lied to us.  They don't deserve another year in office.

Here are my results.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Redford will introduce new taxes

Alison Redford said she "will do whatever it takes" to ensure the Alberta gov't is not so dependent upon the rollercoaster ride of resource revenues.

Then I see her on TV saying she'd rather not reintroduce health care premiums (re: a tax) and instead go after doctors who get paid 29% more on average than doctors in other provinces.  Yet the negotiations between the Alberta Medical Association and the gov't continue.  So let's blame the doctors and not your own bloated gov't.

Alberta provincial spending is the highest in the country (next to Newfoundland and Labrador).  The health care bureaucracy, let alone the government itself, is bloated and wasteful.  The Premier and her cabinet have not set a good example either, with the high expenses claims on trips.

Folks, we're being set up.  They've been in a deficit for many years and this year will be in well over $3 billion.  Mark my words, they WILL introduce a sales tax.  Every year, they toy with the idea and put a floating trial balloon out in the media to hear the response.

And you know what they'll do?  They'll say "We've listened to Albertans and they said it's time we had a sales tax, so we're not so dependent on resource revenues."

The thing is folks, they just can't say they've listened.  By law, they actually have no choice but to hold a referendum introduced by a cabinet member.  Spread the word.  Don't be fooled.

Here's the Act:

PreambleWHEREAS the people of Alberta want to maintain the Alberta Advantage;
WHEREAS Alberta is the only province in Canada that does not have a general provincial sales tax;
WHEREAS a general provincial sales tax is not a desirable tax; and WHEREAS the opinion of the people of Alberta should be obtained directly before any legislation that levies a general provincial sales tax is introduced;
THEREFORE HER MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, enacts as follows:
Referendum required1 A member of the Executive Council may introduce in the Legislative Assembly a Bill that imposes a general provincial sales tax only if, before the introduction of the Bill, the Chief Electoral Officer announces the result  if a referendum conducted under this Act on a question that relates to the imposition of the tax.
1995 cA-37.8 s1
Holding a referendum2 The Lieutenant Governor in Council may order the holding of a referendum that relates to the imposition of a general provincial sales tax.
1995 cA-37.8 s2
Question to be asked3 The question or questions to be put to the electors at a referendum held under this Act shall be determined by a resolution of the Legislative Assembly on the motion of a member of the Executive Council.
1995 cA-37.8 s3

h/t to Joe Albertan

It appears the opposition, particularly Danielle Smith (Wildrose) and Brian Mason (NDP) are definitely on top of things here.

Smith is basically saying exactly what I'm saying that the PCs are "softening us up for sales tax".

And Brian Mason is exactly correct:

NDP Leader Brian Mason said his party would oppose any move to a sales tax or resurrection of health care premiums.
He said they are regressive taxes that punish the low and middle income Albertans.
“we’re very much opposed to a sales tax and always have been, and I don’t think Albertans will accept that sort of solution.”
Mason also criticized the premier for linking the negotiations with the province’s doctors to the province’s consideration of bringing back the so-called health care premiums that raised nearly $1 billion annually for taxpayers.“It’s not the doctors’ fault. It’s not the teachers’’ fault. It’s not Albertans’ fault,” Mason said. “It’s the government’s fault that we’re in this mess.”