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The Disaffected Lib: Jimbo Prentice Pokes Albertans in the Eye With a Sharp Stick.

Well, this is certain something.  Alberta’s unelected premier, Jim Prentice, better learn to bite his tongue.

Prentice has sparked a bit of a furor by blaming his constituents for the mess the province now finds itself in.

Premier Jim Prentice is facing a social media backlash after telling Albertans to “look in the mirror” to find who is responsible for the province’s current financial woes.

Speaking on CBC’s Alberta@Noon Wednesday, Premier Jim Prentice told host Donna McElligott that “in terms of who is responsible, we need only look in the mirror. Basically, all of us have had the best of (Read more…)

Bill Longstaff: Alberta woes—It ain’t the economy, stupid

Here in Alberta, energy superpower, we are going through the bust part of one of our infamous boom and bust cycles. The premier is weighing the government’s options. Cutting MLA salaries, imposing health-care premiums and hiking post-secondary tuition are some of the ideas mentioned. He has even floated the possibility of adjusting the province’s regressive flat tax and—the heavens tremble—

Political Eh-conomy: Stagnant wages for over 80% of Canadian workers

Are wages in Canada stagnant or growing? The short answer is another question: do you live in an oil boom province? There’s a fairly common meme that while Canada, like the US, saw wages stagnate, this is no longer true. Indeed, overall wage growth has picked up since the last crisis.

“Stagnant real wages” is yet another US talking point imported into Canada without checking the data pic.twitter.com/Z6fg2G4uMZ

— Stephen Gordon (@stephenfgordon) December 29, 2014

The baggage that comes with this meme is that we here in reasonable, responsible Canada shouldn’t care about all those things that the US and (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: Even the Fraser Institute Can’t Look the Other Way But It Can’t Tell the Truth Either.

There’s a bumper sticker line that could double for the provincial motto of Alberta:  Dear God, Please Give Us One More Oil Boom and, This Time, We Promise We Won’t Piss It Away.Now, with another boom gone bust, Alberta has fallen back into a raging deficit and even the uber-Right Fraser Institute can’t bite its tongue although it can’t face facts either.  Naturally, the neo-liberal Fraser Institute sees workers’ wages, especially government workers’ wages, as the culprit.

Ten years ago, before the boom started in earnest, Alberta spent $8,965 (in 2013 dollars) per person in program spending. (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: “Anti-Petroleum” RCMP Explodes Gasoline In Their Cars’ Engines

RCMP called ‘anti-petroleum’ critics (aka anyone concerned about climate change) a potential security threat http://t.co/sollGvyhdB #cdnpoli

— Keith Stewart (@climatekeith) February 18, 2015

The RCMP have displayed Climate Change Denial symptoms. This is bad for Canada, because if the police tasked with interfering in climate change related activism do not understand the science that drives the determined actions of peaceful activists, then they’re more likely to act against protesters without a measure of human sympathy.

@climatekeith @JohnKleinRegina Like these "dangerous" people:) pic.twitter.com/wZ71TpEu2n

— margaret resin (@margaretresin) February 18, 2015

Remember that RCMP bombed an oil installation just (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: Tweeter’s Block

"#TweetersBlock" is a terrible thing. It doesn't mean you've nothing to write, rather you can't write it in under 140 characters.

— Saskboy K. (@saskboy) February 16, 2015

I’ve a mild case of Tweeter’s block. I guess that means I need to write on my blog instead.

"#TweetersBlock" is a terrible thing. It doesn't mean you've nothing to write, rather you can't write it in under 140 characters.

— Saskboy K. (@saskboy) February 16, 2015

What’s going on? A whole lot of nothing, and a lot of somethings simmering. My to-do list is impossibly long as (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Jim Stanford highlights the fact that a deficit obsession may have little to do with economic development – and calls out the B.C. Libs for pretending that the former is the same as the latter: I found especially objectionable the article’s uncritical cheerleading for expenditure restraint, praising the government for below-average per capita spending on health care and education, and for welfare rates that are “frozen in time.”  Why are these things assumed to be “good”? To the contrary, the lasting debts that B.C. is accumulating by underinvesting so badly (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to end your week.

- Simon Wren-Lewis nicely describes the austerity con (coming soon in extreme form to an Alberta near you): ‘Mediamacro’ is the term I use to describe macroeconomics as it is portrayed in the majority of the media. Mediamacro has a number of general features. It puts much more emphasis than conventional macroeconomics does on the financial markets, and on the views of participants in those markets. It prefers simple stories to more complex analysis. As part of this, it is fond of analogies between governments and individuals, even when those analogies are generally seen (Read more…)

Dead Wild Roses: Belief in Anti-Vaccination Makes You Dangerous (and Stupid).

We have a newspaper of record of sorts here in Alberta. I’ll be quoting from the Edmonton Journal to cover the amazing amount of stupid it takes to somehow think that vaccines are linked to autism.

1. They are not. [Pubmed, Google Scholar.]

2. See #1.

“One in five Albertans believes some vaccines can cause autism, according to a new poll that suggests a big segment of the population is wary about a perceived medical side-effect that has been widely debunked by scientists.

The telephone poll of 2,838 respondents found that 21 per cent (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: Alberta – Yet Again, Number One!

It seems that Alberta has claimed another world record.  This time it’s for the magnitude of a fracking-induced earthquake, a 4.4-magnitude temblor last week at Fox Creek.

“The location of the earthquake is consistent with being induced by hydraulic fracturing operations,” confirmed Peter Murchland, a spokesman for the Alberta Energy Regulator.

“The AER regards all changes in seismicity that have the potential to indicate an increased risk associated with hydrocarbon production seriously,” Murchland added.

…For years industry and fracking experts argued the technology wouldn’t cause quakes that could be felt on the surface.

But specialists in earthquake hazards such (Read more…)

The Liberal Scarf: Good article on "vetting" and opposition research – don’t embarrass the team

Wanted to share this post by former Alberta NDP candidate Marc Power discussing the political vetting process for candidates. As someone who used to do exactly the kind of opposition research Mr. Power talks about in the post, I found it an interesting perspective.

Mr. Power also talks about how important the role of “the team” is in modern politics, and how one individual candidate who has a scandal emerge that could have otherwise been caught in background vetting can knock an entire election campaign off-track, most notably the case of Allan Hunsperger, the anti-gay “Lake of Fire” Wildrose candidate (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Doug Saunders observes that Syriza’s strong election victory may signal a sea change as to whether austerity is inevitable, while Adnan Al-Daini notes that the financial sector can no longer take for granted that its profits will be placed above the interests of actual people. Which means that Joe Oliver may get even more lonely lecturing Canada’s provinces that the economic beatings will continue until morale improves.

- Speaking of whom, Canadians for Tax Fairness highlights how Oliver has long known that the Cons’ income splitting plans represent nothing more than a (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- PressProgress notes that the Cons’ economic track record is one of eliminating well-paying jobs in favour of lower-wage, more-precarious work. And Jim Stanford follows up on why we shouldn’t believe the Cons’ spin about deficits: I think that a more fruitful and principled line of attack on the government’s approach would focus on these obvious fiscal and economic errors by the government: The October tax cuts were premature; it is tax cuts, not oil prices, which have jeopardized the attainment of a balanced budget.  The Conservatives broke their own promise in implementing (Read more…)

Montreal Simon: The Totally Unbelievable Transformation of Stephen Harper

Even by the standards of the monstrous Stephen Harper, whose many images reflect the many warring voices in his head, it's an amazing transformation. Or mutation.For nine years he was the Oily Messiah, the maniacal missionary who once told an audience in Britain that developing the oil sands was akin to building the Great Wall of China or the Pyramids.The Father of Albertonia, and of course, Big Oil's favourite pimp…Read more »

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: Why Is Canada Selling LAVs to Saudi Arabia?

This shocking news story came up about a year ago, but it’s back in the news because oil crashed, and Alberta tarsand hillbillies freaked out about Saudi Arabia (finally).

The Light Armored Vehicles will be used against civilians protesting injustice in a theocratic, and authoritarian country.

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Larry Elliott writes that at least some business leaders are paying lip service to the idea that inequality needs to be reined in. But Alec Hogg points out that at least some of the privileged few are using their obscene wealth to remove themselves from the rest of humanity, rather than lifting a finger to help anybody else.

- Meanwhile, Joseph Stiglitz observes that sheer stubborn stupidity on the part of austerians is doing untold damage to the global economy. But Jon Henley notes that in advance of Syriza’s election victory, a new (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- The Economist argues that lower oil prices offer an ideal opportunity to rethink our energy policy (with a focus on cleaner sources). And Mitchell Anderson offers a eulogy for Alberta’s most recent oil bender: For now the latest Alberta bender is over, and it’s time to take stock of certain destructive lifestyle choices. The budgetary cupboards are bare, yet Canada’s allegedly “richest” province has an unfunded municipal infrastructure deficit of up to $24 billion. A badly needed new cancer treatment facility has just been delayed past 2020. The long-overdue plan to build (Read more…)

Left Over: Should the CBC Walk the Proverbial Plank?

http://montrealsimon.blogspot.ca/2015/01/what-needs-to-be-said-about-cbc-scandals.html

 

The only valid argument for saving the CBC is that it has a MANDATE, coast to coast to coast, to be there for all the people of this country, to disseminate information (however flawed that process might be these days..) and news for the entire country, especially those less well-served by the media as it exists today.. Let’s be honest here, if all CBC did was make such turgid dramcoms as Republic of Doyle, King of Kensington, etc etc I would say toss it, too… But the fact that anyone anywhere in this country (Read more…)

Bill Longstaff: A sales tax for Alberta?

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice recently committed heresy. Faced with plummeting oil prices and the possibility of a $500-million deficit, the premier actually encouraged discussion about adopting a sales tax.

“I don’t think Albertans generally advocate a sales tax,” he said, “but I’m prepared to be educated and to hear from people.” And he’s not alone. Even Ted Morton, former Alberta finance

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Evening Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Oliver Milman reports on research showing how humanity is destroying its own environmental life support systems. And our appetite for exploitation is proving a failure even from the standpoint of the pursuit of shortsighted greed, as David Dayen considers how the recent drop in oil prices – and consequent market forces limiting further production – may affect a financial sector relying on constant expansion.

- Michael Harris offers another look at the real Stephen Harper to counter the barrage of selective imaging we’ll see throughout the year. And Bob Hepburn discusses the need (Read more…)

Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: A Gram of Prevention is Worth a Kiloliter of Benzine

If you don’t know how to fix things, stop breaking them.

Stewart, however, said it could take months for the steam to cool and the pressure to drop. He said that means any leaks from the well could continue for months.

He also expressed doubts that a cleanup is possible

“I don’t know how you get benzine out of an aquifer. There’s no process for filtering it out. It’s basically a mix of carcinogenic chemicals into this underground water system. It’s not like you can put in a scrubber and clean it all up,” Stewart said.

“The only solution (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: The International Game Of Chicken

The current low oil prices have been characterized as a high stakes game of “chicken” between OPEC countries and “non-conventional” producing countries like Canada and more recently the US.

I don’t pretend to know the state of the books for OPEC’s countries, but I imagine they have a significant chunk of change set aside, and won’t find that prolonged low prices won’t be a particular impediment.

The extraction techniques for both Alberta’s Tar Sands, and the Shale fields in the US are much more expensive to run.  Back in August of this past year, the rumblings of “cutting costs” were (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: What’s a Single Issue Prime Minister to Do?

These are not good times for Canada’s petro-prime minister.  Harper’s Holy Grail, Canadian energy superpowerdom, has sprung a leak.  Even The Globe & Mail, says bitumen no longer makes any economic sense.

If $40 a barrel still seems a ways off, consider that the benchmark price for oil sands crude is already trading in that price range. What’s more, if production from high-cost sources isn’t withdrawn from an oversupplied market, oil prices may soon be trading even lower. The first thing Canadians should recognize about the new world order for oil prices is that – contrary to what we’re (Read more…)

Eclectic Lip: …on the Entrepreneurial State

With the next Canadian federal election less than a year away – and undesirables like Wayne Gretzky soon to be purged from the voter lists – I’ve been getting a lot more fundraising emails lately. As of mid-December I’d received nineteen in eighteen days. It was like a Christmas advent calendar, but in my email inbox! (Like a beleaguered Silician storekeeper, I paid my “protection money” and now they’re leaving me alone. )

Politicians are often derided for their short-term thinking, which is probably a fair criticism. If you ballpark an election cycle at roughly four years, newly-elected (Read more…)

The Cracked Crystal Ball II: A Little Heresy – Alberta Style

So, according to Premier Prentice, the downturn in oil prices is going to create an $11 Billion hole in provincial revenues, and is now talking about putting the brakes on all kinds of infrastructure spending, including a new cancer hospital in Calgary.

Okay, that’s a significant chunk of change.  Let’s talk about this for a moment.

As the leader of the governing party, Mr. Prentice has a responsibility to all Albertans to ensure that the machinery of government continues to operate smoothly.  Over the last 25 years, we have seen the government make further tax cuts all over (Read more…)