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Susan on the Soapbox: A Modest Proposal for Cooperation Among Progressives in Alberta

“I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection” — Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal (1729)

Relax. Ms Soapbox’s modest proposal does not involve devouring children in order to ease Alberta’s economic problems. It builds on an excellent cooperation strategy proposed by Elizabeth May, leader of the federal Green Party.

But first, a little context.

Alberta’s “scare ‘em to save ‘em” premier is expected to call a snap election this spring. Progressive voters of all political stripes fear they’ll be crushed by the Conservative juggernaut. They’re madly galloping off (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Enough with the fantasy Wildrose was Alberta’s best opposition, already! It’s baloney!

And then there were five: The Wildrose caucus back before it experienced civil war, desertions and mass defections, including that of its leader, the woman in red above. Below: former NDP leader Brian Mason and current Leader Rachel Notley; effective Liberal MLAs David Swann and Hugh Macdonald.

One of the more irritating byproducts of mass defection by the Mudville Nine and two of their caucus colleagues who rejoined the Tory Mothership a few days earlier has been the outright wholesaling of the nonsensical claim the Wildrose Party was the most effective opposition Alberta has ever known.

Jen Gerson and Jesse (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Blogger Brian Mason explains why Jim Prentice, ‘Alberta’s first Wildrose premier,’ is preparing to call a snap election

Former NDP leader Brian Mason in a couple of typical poses, above and below. I’ll bet you didn’t know he was a terrific political blogger too!

Jim Prentice is Alberta’s first Wildrose premier and he will soon call a snap election to ensure he can push forward a Wildrose program of using temporarily low oil prices as justification to roll back public sector salaries, attack pensions, reintroduce health care premiums and lay off nurses and teachers.

This sharp and credible warning comes from someone who should be better known as a political blogger than he is, a shrewd analyst of (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Hatched in secret, today’s expected mass Wildrose defection to PC benches, brings party to a pathetic end

The captain of the RMS Wildrose and her officers slip quietly away from their sinking ship in the darkness. Actual Wildrose leaders may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith and Wildrose House Leader Rob Anderson. Both are expected to be rewarded for abandoning ship with cabinet posts in PC Premier Jim Prentice’s government.

As of today – even before we are certain of everything that has happened in the last 48 hours or what will happen in the next 48 – we can be confident of this: the Wildrose Party is finished.

I do not mean (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: The Santa Clause: A holiday gift of biting humour from Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley

NDP Leader Rachel Notley, helping to improve the New Democrats’ game in Alberta. Below: Education Minister Gordon Dirks, restored Tory MLA Peter Sandhu and former PC cabinet minister Evan Berger; Alberta Premier Jim Prentice.

No one can say Rachel Notley hasn’t upped the Alberta NDP’s game since she was elected party leader in October.

Yesterday, the provincial New Democrats put out a biting public statement on their proposed amendments to Premier Jim Prentice’s so-called Alberta Accountability Act that was funny enough to make me laugh out loud.

The Progressive Conservative government’s Bill 2, as noted in this space earlier (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Alberta Tories are swinging right, paradoxically because of the implosion of their right-wing brethren in the Wildrose Party

Family values: Not so long ago they were all swinging left, but now the Progressive Conservative caucus of Premier Jim Prentice is swinging right. Getting ready to launch, from left to right, new PC caucus member Kerry Towle, Mr. Prentice, new caucus member Ian Donovan, and an unidentified former Redford Government cabinet minister. Actual Alberta politicians may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: The real Mr. Prentice, NDP Leader Rachel Notley, Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith and Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman.

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley, Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman and Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark were onto (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: No change! No change! Jim Prentice’s ‘new management’ is offering the same old Tory stuff

New management … same old owner. It’s all about marketing. Below: Jim Prentice and Fred Horne, advocating the same health care policies.

Sustained, uninterrupted privatization of health care, a senior official dumped for daring to speak out about political interference in her supposedly independent work, thousands of dollars in illegal donations to the good ole Tory Dynasty now led by Premier Jim Prentice …

All this and a Speaker who doesn’t understand or care about his impartial role in the Legislature. … Plus a national mission to build pipelines to all points of the compass!

This is new management? Sure (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Happy Thanksgiving! Would the Tories praising our health care system please stop trying to privatize it!

Edmonton’s Misericordia Hospital waaay back in the day. Below: The modern Mis, the one in Edmonton’s west end that after 45 years is falling apart. Alberta Health Minister Stephen Mandel.

Happy Thanksgiving! With a case of a “potential contagious illness” in an unidentified Edmonton hospital last night, I guess we can be thankful we have a public health care system, even if it faces a serious funding crisis and is housed in crumbling facilities.

This, at any rate, is the party line from Conservative federal and provincial politicians as they keep to keep us from panicking about the emergence of, (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: NDP and Liberal candidates’ with similar appeal in Edmonton-Whitemud don’t make progressive voters’ job any easier

The NDP and Alberta Liberals fight it out in Edmonton-Whitemud. I’ll leave it to readers to determine who’s just been demasted. Below: Liberal candidate Dr. Donna Wilson (CBC photo) and NDP candidate Dr. Bob Turner.

The reasons are perfectly clear and quite understandable, but it’s depressing nonetheless to see Alberta’s provincial Liberals and New Democrats fighting so bitterly for a few scraps from the table at which the Tories and the Wildrosers get to dine.

But how else can we explain the spectacle of our province’s two progressive parties with only nine Legislative seats between them battling it out in (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Just as things were looking up a bit for foundering PCs, Alison Redford showed up again

Alison Redford contemplates which way to turn as she leaves behind a trail of devastation, toward the capital city’s new Sky Palace Hotel, left, or toward Edmonton’s High Level Bridge, right. Actual former premiers and the landmarks they threaten may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: The real Ms. Redford; Tory leadership candidates Jim Prentice, Thomas Lukaszuk and Ric McIver.

Just when things were starting to look a little better for Alberta’s Progressive Conservative government, Alison Redford blundered back onto the provincial scene like the monster from low-budget a 1950s horror flick.

So suggests the latest version of a regular (Read more…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Goodbye? The future looks bleak for the Alberta Liberals

TweetIt has been a long time since things have looked good for the Alberta Liberals. The provincial party has been teetering on the verge of the political abyss for years but lately the future looks especially bleak. Recent announcements that popular Calgary Liberal MLAs Kent Hehr and Darshan Kang are moving to greener pastures in federal […]

Alberta Diary: So much for ‘leading by example’ – Alberta Tories’ 3-year pay freeze for top civil service executives melts like ice cream on a hot day

Ice cream on a hot day – melts almost as fast as an Alberta Tory management wage freeze! Actual PC promises of “leading by example” may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Finance Minister Doug Horner, nowhere to be seen yesterday; leadership candidate Thomas Lukaszuk, bemoaning the decision last night.

Senior Alberta government managers had to be rejoicing yesterday – and presumably resolving to update their lapsed memberships in the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party.

Leastways, word leaked out yesterday to us in the Hoi Polloi that the government’s three-year freeze on civil service executive salaries, which began amid great fanfare (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Maybe it’s time to state the obvious: promises aren’t enough for Alberta Tories to win back any progressive votes

Tory leadership front-runner Jim Prentice on the campaign trail. Below: Former premier Alison Redford; Education Minister, though presumably not for long, Jeff Johnson; leadership candidate Thomas Lukaszuk.

Perhaps it’s time to just come right out and state the obvious: If Tory leadership front-runner Jim Prentice wants even a few of Alberta’s badly burned progressive voters to give his so-called Progressive Conservative Party their consideration one more time, he’s going to have to do more than make promises.

There’s one big reason for this: Alison Redford.

Back in 2011, when she was running for the leadership of the Alberta PC Party, (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Opposition attack on Tory leadership frontrunner Jim Prentice a measure of how deeply Alison Redford wounded her party

“Diamond Jim” Prentice, at right, in a strategy session with Alberta Premier Dave Hancock, as described by the provincial NDP and seen by the Wildrose Party. Below: the real Mr. Prentice and former premier Alison Redford.

If you’re looking for a yardstick with which to measure the truly spectacular failure of the short, unhappy reign of Alison Redford over Alberta, just consider the last few days as experienced by Jim Prentice.

Mr. Prentice, of course, is the front-runner in the race to become Ms. Redford’s permanent replacement at the helm of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative dynasty, which has ruled Alberta (Read more…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Opposition hoping for a sequel to Air Redford… Air Prentice

TweetThe long-summer of 2014 has begun in Alberta politics. With little substantial policy ideas to dispute or debate, Alberta’s opposition parties have set their sights on Progressive Conservative leadership front-runner Jim Prentice (if this continues, Thomas Lukaszuk and Ric McIver are going to start feeling left out). Hoping to tie Mr. Prentice to frequent-flying former Premier Alison Redford […]

Susan on the Soapbox: The Alberta Federation of Labour’s Litmus Test for Alberta’s Opposition Parties

“Sometimes telling the truth hurts…and it will hurt here.”—Rob Anderson, Wildrose MLA at the Alberta Federation of Labour Conference in response to a question about the legal right to strike*

The Alberta Federation of Labour held a two day conference this weekend in Calgary. Ms Soapbox was extremely fortunate to receive an invitation to hear Rob Anderson (Wildrose), Deron Bilous (NDP) and Dr David Swann (Liberal) speak at a panel on “Alberta Political Parties’ Vision for Labour and Working People.”

Mr Anderson

Apparently, the Progressive Conservatives were also invited but Premier Hancock was busy and none of the (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Missing: Any discussion of what drove the Hancock Government’s Bill 10 attack on legally enforceable contracts

A system of contracts that can be enforced and adjudicated by an independent and disinterested court like this one is one of the key features of civilized society. This is a picture of the court used by a significant number Canadian law firms to illustrate their web pages. Actually, it’s the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Manhattan. But, unlike all those coruscating Canadian legalists, I took this picture myself. Below: Premier pro tem Dave Hancock talking to the media about an entirely different controversial issue; historian Alvin Finkel.

Amid all the brouhaha in recent weeks over (Read more…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Who wants to be leader of the Alberta NDP?

TweetWhile most political chatter in Alberta is focused on how big Jim Prentice’s victory will be on the first ballot of the Progressive Conservative leadership vote on September 6, there is another race about to begin – the race to become the leader of the Alberta NDP. At his press conference announcing departure, outgoing NDP […]

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Scrappy and strong-willed, Brian Mason punches above his weight

TweetBack in the mid-2000s, when I worked for the Alberta Liberals, Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason was a constant source of frustration for my colleagues and I. Each week, I was amazed at how the leader of the tiny perfect NDP could consistently earn so much press and scoop away the media attention deserved by of my party’s Official […]

Alberta Diary: A Tale of Two Leaders: His was the best of exits, hers was the worst

Retiring Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason with your blogger’s introduction-to-journalism class in 2011: he was witty, passionate and persuasive, a big part of why the Alberta NDP continues to draw young supporters in significant numbers. Below: Mr. Mason with Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who has also retired from politics; in a typical pose at a party social; and in another typical pose, proving Alberta’s weather was never too cold for a speech from Brian Mason.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Redford-Hancock Government moves ahead with plan to gut public sector pensions

Alberta Environment Minister Robin Campbell, right, in one of the rather undistinguished jackets that are causing such a brouhaha in the provincial Legislature this week. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Doug Horner, below, is moving to attack the pensions of 300,000 Alberta public employees and no one is paying much attention. Below him, NDP Leader Brian Mason, who opposes his plans, and former prime ministerial chief of staff Nigel Wright. But you’ll have to read to the bottom if you want to know what Mr. Wright has to do with this story.

Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner gave notice yesterday that the (Read more…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Should the Alberta NDP accept corporate donations?

TweetWith vibrant progressive campaigns winning on the municipal-level in Calgary and Edmonton, it is difficult to understand why there is not be a progressive party, or even a non-conservative party, able to compete on the provincial-level in Alberta. Alberta’s progressive political parties are being left in the dust by the large fundraising machines of the […]

Alberta Diary: Electoral math is calculus, not arithmetic, so 15 more Tory defectors won’t necessarily bring down Alison Redford’s shaky government

Alberta Premier Alison Redford and her crack team of Tory political strategists consult the Billion Dollar Brainiac, the Alberta government’s carbon- and vote-capture supercomputer, to figure out how many members must remain in her shrinking caucus for the party to survive a non-confidence motion. Actual crack Alberta political strategists may not appear exactly as illustrated. Just ignore the note that says “Bon Voyage.” Below: MLAs Steve Young, Edmonton Riverview, and Matt Jeneroux, Edmonton-South West.

The assumption of just about everyone in the Punditocracy, the Commentariat, the Blogosphere and the Media Bloviarchy here in Alberta is that if Premier (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: If Alison Redford won’t voluntarily step aside, Alberta’s Tories are likely finished

Alberta Premier Cruella de Vil brings some of her rebellious MLAs to heel. Actual Alberta politicians may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: High-profile caucus rebel Donna Kennedy-Glans; Stephen Mandel, former mayor of Edmonton and about the only person who could unseal the Alberta Tories’ doom at this late hour.

The departure yesterday morning of Donna Kennedy-Glans from the Alberta Progressive Conservative caucus makes it pretty obvious the message is sinking in with disaffected PC MLAs that casting Alison Redford as Premier Cruella de Vil and then putting her on double-secret probation may not have been the most astute strategy (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Understanding Alberta’s 2014 budget: the deviltry’s in the details

Budget 2014: let the good times roll. Life’s great nowadays if you’re a Tory insider in Alberta – like these happy political staffers from the Premier’s Office. Actual political advisors to Premier Alison Redford may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Former Premier Ed Stelmach as he counted up ways he could save money; Ms. Redford.

Another million dollars for the Premier’s Office?

Now that’s interesting!

As in Pravda back in the day in that other one-party state, the name of which escapes me at the moment but which you’d think was still around judging from the chest-thumping 1960s-style rhetoric (Read more…)