Monday, October 27, 2014

Alberta by-elections a test for Prentice

Tonight, four Alberta by-elections are happening. Without getting into much of the details of each candidate, I'm going to predict who wins and why.


Knowing that they might lose the riding, the PCs strategy was to appoint an unelected cabinet minister and then make him run. That candidate is former Saskatchewan urban affairs minister, Gordon Dirks.

Also running is Alberta Party leader Greg Clark.  He's certain to pull progressive and liberal protest votes, but it won't be enough to take it with the party not having much of any history there.

Hatrock Prediction -- Wildrose candidate Rt.-Col. John Fletcher takes this one from the PCs.  Why? It's Alison Redford's former riding and is the best place to plop your anti-PC protest vote.


Newly minted premier Jim Prentice has made several cookie cutter decisions since taking power after the low-voter turnout PC leadership race with only 17,000 votes to try and show he's different than the past.  Despite the tradition of opposition parties allowing party leaders to run unopposed, that's not happening this time.

Hatrock Prediction -- As much as it would be interesting to see Prentice lose and the Wildrose have been campaigning hard, but so have the PCs, and riding residents tend to vote for said premiers, save former premier Don Getty in the late 80's.


With no incumbent, this one is really up for grabs.  Good candidates from all parties, but it's the Wildrose with the best chance to take it based on past election history.

Hatrock Prediction -- With anti-PC protest votes split among progressives and conservatives, allowing the Wildrose to shoot up the middle, Wildrose candidate Sheila Taylor, a public school trustee, edges out PC Mike Ellis, a Calgary policeman,

Edmonton Whitemud

Former, popular three-term Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel, and recent health minister appointment has seen the Wildrose release attacks against him regarding supposed mayoral campaign donations being donated to the PCs and $67k of mayoral city budget paying for Oilers tickets. The PCs have seemingly been able to diffuse with Mandel saying he'd pay everything back if allegations are true. The big announcement that the gov't plans to open a whole pile of new hospitals, while encouraging, Albertans have also heard of these promises before from the PCs.

Hatrock Prediction -- Edmontonians trust Mandel for the most-part and certainly don't mind seeing him involved provincially and at the cabinet table on Edmonton's behalf.  Nothing sticks and so Mandel easily wins this one.

Prediciton Summary:
PCs take two - Prentice and Mandel get in.
Wildrose take two - Fletcher and Taylor win.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The APPrentice - PC Alberta version

CALGARY SUN PHOTO -- 2009/03/27 -- Alberta environment minister Jim Prentice listens to Attorney General Alison Redford as she speaks to media in the Calgary Remand Centre gymnasium on Friday, March 27. Government officials were officially announcing legislation aimed at reducing 'credit for time served'
Lyle Aspinall/Sun Media

We now have a new rookie premier.  Next provincial election, we should all have our own version of the show "The Apprentice" called "The APPrentice" or "Alberta PC Prentice".

The PC Party of Alberta, amidst expense scandal after scandal under the Redford regime, in order to change its wool for the third time, felt that steamrolling a former federal Conservative cabinet minister into the premier's chair would mark a new era in how this party runs the province.

Really?  A party that covets democracy so much finally realized that citizens from other party stripes would buy memberships en masse to vote and have their liberalish candidate win on subsequent run-off ballots was not something they wanted to repeat.  Can't have too many candidates run, but not too few to make it not look like a race, you know.  Oh, how we miss the exciting party leadership convention format (which worked, by the way).

So let's look at the PC leadership election, itself mired in controversy, and then pick apart the new cabinet.  Fun times ahead!

In the leadership "race", 23,386 votes were cast.  Prentice won on the first ballot with 17,863 votes, Ric McIver got 2,742 and Thomas Lukaszuk got 2,681.

But looking back to the party's leadership race in 2011, 59,359 votes were cast on the first ballot and 76,186 votes on the second ballot's first round.

The vote difference on the first ballot between the 2014 and 2011 races is 35,973 votes.  That's a 61% drop.  It was said more people attend Edmonton Eskimo games than the number of voters here.  And then, about the same number of people who attend Edmonton Oilers games voted for Prentice.

Let's admit that this is not a lot of people in a province of 4 million.  And let's also admit that interest in the PC Party has dropped off significantly.  So much so that Prentice cannot claim in any way shape or form that he has a mandate from the people.

The race saw Prentice handing out free memberships.
The vote was a sham in itself.
There are reports that while many people were able to vote twice, many were not even able to vote.

Oh, and some have said that because Prentice won by so much, it didn't really matter.  Really?  Is that the level of argument that party democracy has come to?  They can't even run a leadership race for only 23 thousand people, and you think they can still run a province.

If you're not convinced that nothing has or will change with this party and how they run the province, then let's move on to the recently appointed cabinet, shall we?

Two, not one, but two cabinet ministers were appointed from the citizenry and not from the elected MLAs in the PC or any other caucus.  While perfectly legal, is it right?  One is former Edmonton mayor, Stephen Mandel (who we all know was a Liberal) appointed as health minister, and the other is Gordon Dirks, a former pastor and Saskatchewan Conservative MLA appointed as the education minister.

Dirks himself was known to be associated with evangelical Christian groups with strong views on LGBT marriage and women's rights.  So it's funny, you know, the reason why Redford was able to have the PCs pull ahead at the last minute in the last election to win over Danielle Smith's Wildrose Party, was because of one Wildrose candidate named Huntsberger who also had strong views on gays.  So now where is the media calling out Dirks?  Heck, where are the current PC supporters who cried a fowl of Huntsberger, but now silent on one of their own?  Quite convenient, I'd say. Hypocrites on the other hand.

And wait! I should make that three cabinet ministers without a riding.  Can't forget about Jim Prentice himself as premier, can we?  Yes, I understand that's how this stuff works sometimes, but he's now also appointed himself as aboriginal relations minister, because you know, that's what he did in the federal government, so it's okay then, I guess.

Why is this important to mention?  Is it a big deal?  If the premier doesn't call an election soon, then essentially we have unelected people running the government who cannot be held to account by the opposition caucuses in the legislature because they are not members of the legislature.

Yes, this is a much smaller cabinet than Redford's, but let's not forget that the majority of the ministers were in the previous government too and most importantly THAT THEY ARE ALL FROM THE SAME SCANDAL-RIDDEN PARTY!

I also can't wait to hear what is dug up from the past when David Dorwood ran against Stephen Mandel for mayor of Edmonton. You know, his new fellow cabinet member?  I'm guessing something about tax and spend, oh and Dorwood wanting to keep the municipal airport open where Mandel had council already made the decision to close it.  I wonder what Dorwood thinks about all the new big towers going up in Edmonton because the airport was closed to allow for taller towers.  I wonder.

Then there's Prentice himself, who left some questions behind for us when he was a minister in the Harper government.  He now announces that the government jets are for sale to supposedly end the culture of entitlement.

I hope more facts and questions come to light for voters to see that this government is not under new management by any means.  For 43 years we've been duped into believing this zebra has changed its stripes, or that this pig's lipstick new colour all of sudden makes the pig different.

For you hard or soft NDP supporters, progressives from the liberals, disenfranchised PCs, or Alberta Party-goers, you have a real chance to hold the balance of power next election.  Admit that the NDP has been the only real stable progressive choice and that they have a home for you now under Brian Mason, and especially when Rachel Notley wins their leadership race.  There's no home for you in the PCs anymore, unless you ignore the numerous scandals, and their turncoat blatant disrespect for teachers and public employees. Don't forget that.  Stop voting PC already.

After 43 years, no matter who the leader is now, next election, it's time for us all to move forward without them and vote them out.

Or in the case of our new show "The APPrentice" - we need to tell them "you're fired".

Albertans deserve better.


Wednesday, August 06, 2014

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

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

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

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

Such is life in the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta.

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

Nice distraction?  From what?  What do I mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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