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Alberta Diary: Privatization of Alberta’s air fleet will cost citizens money and change nothing

A typical government airplane explained. The politics and financing are more complicated. Below: Jim Prentice.

Privatization of the Alberta government’s four-plane air fleet, announced this morning by unelected Premier Jim Prentice at his first official news conference, makes plenty of political sense, but will end up costing citizens more and change nothing.

This is always the pattern with the privatization of public services. Now, in addition to having to pay for airplane services for the top dogs of the provincial government, we taxpayers will have to build in a margin to cover corporate profits, plus higher private-sector insurance and borrowing (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Strap on your seat belts? Jim Prentice’s cabinet is more like a drive down memory lane

Jim Prentice prepares to be sworn in yesterday. Below: Health Minister Stephen Mandel and social media gadfly Olav Rokne.

Things were going to change in Alberta so much once his capable hands were on the steering wheel, Jim Prentice warned us, that we’d better make sure we’d strapped on our seatbelts!

Well, he might have given us a mild scare as he motored through the political equivalent of a yellow light yesterday afternoon by appointing a couple of unelected, well-off, older, gentlemen to his cabinet.

These two fellows may or may not turn out to be a matched set (Read more…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Jim Prentice appoints another Pipeline Focused Cabinet

TweetAs he prepared to be sworn-in as the 16th Premier of Alberta at Government House today, Jim Prentice aimed to project the image of a leader who is in command and in control of the situation. And today’s tightly controlled cabinet shuffle achieved that goal. Unlike previous cabinet shuffles, the news around today’s appointments were […]

Alberta Diary: Outgoing Premier pro tempore Dave Hancock: 17 years of going along to get along

Another fine mess? No, no, it was a Bitumen Bubble that caused it! Really! Dave Hancock, left, shown explaining cuts to post-secondary education, imposed by Alison Redford, right, back when the bitumen was bubbling. Actual Redford Government officials may not have appeared exactly as illustrated. Below: The real Mr. Hancock, who leaves Alberta politics after 17 years later today.

As I flew back into Alberta airspace the day before yesterday, it seemed as if tout le monde political Alberta was bidding the fondest of farewells to departing Premier pro tempore Dave Hancock, who announced on Friday he would not only (Read more…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Prentice tells Albertans to strap on their seat belts

Tweet“After two weeks with me as the premier, there will be no doubts in anyone’s minds that this a time of renewal and a time of change. Put your seat belts on.” – Jim Prentice speaking with Roger Kingkade and Rob Breakenridge on September 9, 2014 on News Talk 770. Wearing your seat belt while […]

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Gay Rights, Abortion big issues at Conservative nomination debate in Medicine Hat

TweetThe Medicine Hat News reports that abortion and the rights of sexual minorities were the hot topics at a debate between Dan Hein and MP Jim Hillyer, the two candidates running for the Conservative Party of Canada nomination in southern Alberta’s newly redistributed Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner riding. “…I’m not interested in somebody parading in front of me their […]

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Alberta NDP still running that other leadership contest

TweetIt is pennies compared to the $1.8 million raised by Jim Prentice during the Progressive Conservative leadership race, but in the world of the Alberta NDP leadership contest, the money is flowing. The NDP’s monthly contributions report from its leadership candidates shows Edmonton-Strathcona MLA and front-runner Rachel Notley has raised $82,826.99, Edmonton-Calder MLA David Eggen has […]

Alberta Diary: Cabinet making in a shallow talent pool: what’s Alberta’s Jim Prentice going to do?

The Alberta Tory talent pool in 2014. Shallow, and not much fun for the guy in charge. Actual Alberta PC leaders may not appear as illustrated. Below: The real Mr. Jim Prentice. Main photo grabbed from the Internet.

Never mind the transition team. What about the cabinet?

It’s not just a question of who will be in Alberta Premier Select Jim Prentice’s minimalist new pre-general-election Progressive Conservative cabinet – Ken Hughes, c’mon down! – but who won’t be.

It’s also a question of who gets stiffed, regionally speaking: Calgary, Edmonton, or the countryside – which has already gone over to (Read more…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Alberta By-Elections can be risky ventures

TweetA closer look at twenty years of provincial by-elections in Alberta As newly selected Progressive Conservative leader Jim Prentice begins his transition into the Premier’s Office (having just named his transition team), attention will soon turn to a provincial by-election that will allow the new premier an opportunity to be elected as an MLA. In advance of the impending […]

Alberta Diary: How many PC memberships were given away? It’s time to get to know the known unknowns of the leadership campaign

Alberta’s PCs are smiling today as Jim Prentice, at right, takes over the helm of the RMS Titanic Tory. Actual just-elected leaders of the Progressive Conservative Party may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: The real Jim Prentice as he appeared surrounded by media last night. (Photo by Dave Cournoyer, used with permission.)

VICTORIA, B.C.

So, c’mon guys, how many of those 23,386 Progressive Conservative Party memberships were actually purchased by someone, and how many were given away?

Will the PC Party under Mr. Prentice, committed to transparency and integrity as its new leader says it is, (Read more…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Boring Jim Prentice might be what the Tories need

TweetLow turnout, lack of interest overshadows Prentice’s win The atmosphere was noticeably subdued as I walked into the large hall at Northlands Expo Centre that hosted the Progressive Conservative’s leadership event. It was 6:45 pm and there were probably 300 loyal party supporters scattered across the hall, which looked like it could comfortably fit 2,000. By the time the results […]

Alberta Diary: Prentice in a walk – but the low voter turnout tells the real story about the fate of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives

This file photo, almost as boring as Jim Prentice’s speech to the troops in Edmonton tonight, and I have it on good authority it was pretty darned boring, will be replaced later if anyone sends me a better one.

VICTORIA, B.C.

Well! That’s it then. Jim Prentice in a walk, the first time the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party has actually chosen the frontrunner in the past three leadership races, maybe four if you count Ralph Klein.

My phone chirped the results to me from the floor of the EXPO Centre in Edmonton at 6:54 p.m. Alas, I’m in (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: That Portrait of a Certain Lady: a bargain for Albertans at $12,000? Or not?

Is this what Alison Redford’s official portrait is going to look like? Below: Ms. Redford as she might have been seen by Pablo Picasso or Gustav Klimt. We can do better, people!

VICTORIA, B.C.

“Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” — Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

While we all wait for tomorrow night to see if fund-raising prowess or something else motivates Alberta Progressive Conservative Party members, let’s engage in a little creative thought about public support for the arts where the oil hits the canvas, at the nexus of (Read more…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: As lacklustre PC leadership race winds down, by-elections are on the horizon

TweetWith one day left before the vote, Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Ric McIver’s campaign took to the radio airwaves, attacking frontrunner Jim Prentice for being “an insider.” It was an strange move for Mr. McIver, as the general public appears largely disinterested in the contest and the deadline to purchase memberships has already passed. While […]

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Alberta Politics Catch Up: Pipelines, Planes, Cities and Rob Anders

TweetSpending a few days in another province can sometimes give you a different perspective on important national issues. Spending the last week in British Columbia served as a good reminder to this political watcher about how emotional the debate around pipelines and the Oilsands are in Alberta’s neighbouring province. While I am sure opinion is divided in B.C., I lost […]

Alberta Diary: The push-polls prove it again, Canadians hate unions … really, really, really they do! Happy Labour Day

The past is a foreign country: Labour Day in Vancouver, not so long ago. Below: The workers, united, will never be defeated! The goal of union “transparency,” “worker choice,” “right to work” and other Orwellian right-wing buzzwords is to ensure the workers are never united and always defeated. Below that: Stephen Kushner, president of the anti-union Merit Contractors Association.

VICTORIA, B.C.

NOTE TO READERS: Since the Alberta chapter of the Merit Contractors Association, a group of non-union construction companies, seems to have recycled much of its past opinion survey and press release on union “transparency,” I thought I’d recycle (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Opponents beyond PC ranks start to take aim at Alberta Tory leadership candidate Jim Prentice

Alberta Tory leadership candidate Jim Prentice, invisible, as everybody and their non-partisan friends pile on. Actual scenes from Alberta politics may not take place exactly as illustrated. Below: The real Mr. Prentice, in his lucky campaign shirt; Canadian Taxpayers Federation Alberta Director Derek Fildebrandt.

VICTORIA, B.C.

Jim Prentice, you’re in the crosshairs now (metaphorically speaking).

And if you manage to win the leadership of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party next Saturday – which everyone except this blogger thinks is exactly what’s going to happen – in the crosshairs is where you’re going to stay.

The Canadian Taxpayers Association fired (Read more…)

In This Corner: Thomas Lukaszuk, world’s most expensive relationship counsellor.

OK, I have about a million questions about the Thomas Lukaszuk $20,000 phone bill scandal. Or maybe about seven.

First, the background. It was revealed this week that Lukaszuk, the soon-to-be third place finisher in the anemic PC leadership race, rang up a $20,000 phone bill while on a personal trip to Poland. Lukaszuk first said it was because of ‘government business’, which at least had a ring of truth to it. But later it was revealed that the ‘government business’ was a call from a frantic cabinet minister who was involved in a family crisis. The police were called, (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Thomas Lukaszuk’s campaign jumps the shark! Did Alberta’s PC government just do the same thing?

Thomas Lukaszuk looks cool as always, despite having just jumped the shark. Actual PC leadership candidates may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below, the real Mr. Lukaszuk.

Yesterday was the day we were all supposed to be in agog at how Alberta is awash in cash again – a long-predicted lottery win for which the governing Progressive Conservative Party understandably if unjustifiably intended to take full credit.

Instead, the capital city’s principal newspaper apparently didn’t even write a separate news story about the government’s upbeat first-quarter financial report, but rolled it into a political column about all the scandals (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Unsolved mysteries: Never mind those roaming charges, who leaked that Tory party membership list in 2011?

Capt. Queeg of the USS Caine channels Alberta Tory Party leaders as he describes the search for the missing strawberries. Imagine what he would have done with a purloined cell phone bill or a leaked list of Tory Party members! Below: Dave Hancock, Thomas Lukaszuk.

Premier pro tempore Dave Hancock is said to be pondering an official hunt for the perpetrator of the leak to the Edmonton Sun of Tory leadership candidate Thomas Lukaszuk’s $20,000 Telus bill.

According to the Edmonton Journal’s account of the impending search for the missing strawberries, Mr. Lukaszuk complained to the premier about the leak, (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: PC leadership: Jim Prentice’s term limit fumble and Thomas Lukaszuk’s cellular bill are good news for Ric McIver

File under, “Dinner, done like”… Alison Redford serves dinner to Thomas Lukaszuk as Jim Prentice, at left, and Dave Hancock, Doug Horner and Ric McIver look on. Actual Tory premiers, former premiers, would-be premiers and former would-be premiers may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: The author with Ric McIver. It just seemed like the right time to trot this one out!

Looks like it’s time to start planning for a couple of years of a McIver Government.

Leastways, the past couple of days have not earned any gold stars for former infrastructure minister Ric McIver’s two competitors, supposed (Read more…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Alberta politics today: Caribou, Cell Phone Bills, and backing down on Term-Limits

TweetAnother news report this week focused on the devastation of caribou habitat in northwestern Alberta. The CBC story reported that deforestation caused by seismic cutlines and snowmobile traffic has caused irreparable damage to habitat critical to the survival of Alberta’s caribou herds. “About five per cent of range for the Little Smoky and a la […]

Calgary Grit: 43 year old government proposes term limits

A future Jim Prentice caucus?

An Alberta PC leadership race devoid of ideas has its first eye-catching policy.

Presumptive front-runner Jim Prentice has pledged limits of 2 terms on the Premier and 3 terms on MLAs. This no doubt comes in response to accusations the PC government has grown stale over time, though I would point out that many of their problems stem from the actions of a politician who became Premier after just three years as an MLA, before exiting in disgrace after winning a single election as Premier.

Meanwhile, I’d be very curious if Prentice feels his old (Read more…)

Calgary Grit: In the Record Books

These are not happy days for the party which has ruled Alberta since before Happy Days ever aired, but the PCs had something to celebrate this weekend as they passed Ontario’s Big Blue Machine to become the longest serving government in Canadian history.

There are many reasons for their longevity. An ability to portray themselves as the true defenders of Alberta against the federal government. Leveraging the resources that come with power to their maximum advantage. Inept opposition parties, who were not helped by the actions of their federal counterparts.

But above all else, the Alberta PCs are still ticking (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Why Edmonton Strathcona electors should vote NDP, as (not exactly) explained by Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland

Toronto Spadina MP Chrystia Freeland, a Liberal, after speaking at the University of Alberta Faculty Club last week. Below: Eleanor Olszewski, nominated Liberal candidate in the federal Edmonton Strathcona riding; Linda Duncan, NDP MP for Edmonton Strathcona.

Last Wednesday night, during an engaging talk at the University of Alberta Faculty Club, Chrystia Freeland pretty clearly laid out the arguments for why voters in Edmonton Strathcona should re-elect New Democrat Linda Duncan in the next federal election.

The Toronto MP, who is one of the bright lights of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s caucus, wasn’t aiming to make that point, of course. (Read more…)