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Alberta Diary: The Amazing Race, Alberta Political Edition: can the Tories find their missing mojo?

Opposition party members prepare to run against the Progressive Conservative candidates, uncertain why they are being made to race with sacks on their feet while the Tories aren’t. Actual Alberta politicians may not appear exactly as illustrated. New faces below: The NDP’s Jennifer Burgess; the Tories’ Mike Ellis.

Premier Jim Prentice called a news conference yesterday morning in Calgary and announced, as widely expected, that he and his two likewise-unelected cabinet ministers will run in by-elections to be held within the shortest time frame legally possible.

Unexpected was that Mr. Prentice himself would run for the Progressive Conservative Party in (Read more…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Four by-elections are a risky mid-term report card for Alberta Tories

TweetAlbertans in four provincial constituencies will go to the polls on October 27, 2014. Half-way through the PC Government’s current four year term in office, the by-elections will be our own version of the mid-term elections. Yesterday morning three anticipated provincial by-elections turned into four when first-term Ken Hughes announced his resignation as the Progressive Conservative MLA […]

Alberta Diary: Time for Tories to place a bet: Jim Prentice reaches a crucial moment in a high-stakes game

Prentice… James Prentice… Alberta’s premier eyes the opposition as the time grows near to decide whether to hold ’em, fold ’em, or just run. No way he can walk away now! Actual PC politicians dealt a lousy hand may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: The real Mr. Prentice; Calgary-Nose Hill-Mackay MLA Neil Brown

As Kenny Rogers famously sang, “You gotta to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run…”

Sometime today, we’ve been assured, we’ll be told where in Calgary Premier Jim Prentice will run for a (Read more…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Where will Jim Prentice run in a by-election?

TweetThree weeks after being selected as leader of the governing Progressive Conservative Party, Premier Jim Prentice still does not have a seat in the Alberta Legislative Assembly. Although his party has already nominated candidates to run in the impending Calgary-Elbow and Edmonton-Whitemud by-elections, Mr. Prentice remains coy about where, and when, a third by-election will be held. […]

Alberta Diary: The best candidates aren’t necessarily the best candidates in important Edmonton-Whitemud by-election

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith introduces her party’s Edmonton-Whitemud candidate, Tim, Grover, at a news conference in the riding yesterday. Below: NDP Candidate Dr. Bob Turner, Mr. Grover again, and former Edmonton mayor, unelected health minister and PC candidate Stephen Mandel.

In the race to knock off an unelected health minister whose main qualification is that he’s a former elected mayor, it’s a commentary on the state of Alberta that a distinguished hematologist, oncologist and medical school teacher stands far less of a chance of pulling off an upset than a young entrepreneur whose businesses are not even named in his (Read more…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Coming Soon: Calgary-Elbow and Edmonton-Whitemud by-elections

TweetWith provincial by-elections in Alberta’s two biggest cities expected to be called soon, opposition parties are gearing up to challenge two unelected cabinet ministers running under the Progressive Conservative banner. Dates for the by-election votes have not been scheduled and a third by-election for Premier Jim Prentice is also expected to take place. Mr. Prentice is expected to run […]

Alberta Diary: Alberta Premier Jim Prentice repudiates controversial Redford Era triple-entry financial bookkeeping scheme

Alberta Health Minister Stephen Mandel and Premier Jim Prentice, neither elected just yet. Below: Former finance minister Doug Horner, current Education Minister Gordon Dirks, also unelected, and Emperor Augustus. Notice the similarity of the emperor to Mr. Mandel.

Well, nuts to you, Doug Horner!

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice continued his (almost) clean sweep of Redford Era Progressive Conservative Government policies yesterday, whisking away the former party leadership’s weird system of triple-entry bookkeeping that was introduced last year by Mr. Horner in his role as Alison Redford’s finance minister.

As of yesterday, it’s safe to say that the confusing financial reporting (Read more…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Mini-schools a start. Grown-up conversations key to solving the crowded schools problem.

TweetThe de-Redfordization process continues this week, as Progressive Conservative Party leader Jim Prentice tries to sweep the memory of Alison Redford from of the minds of Alberta voters. On Monday, Mr. Prentice promised the construction of four mini “starter-schools” in Calgary to provide relief to overflowing suburban schools. While the new mini-schools are a good temporary solution, it was […]

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Nomination update: Yellowhead by-election, Bow River Tories vote, and Anybody but Xiao

TweetPremier Jim Prentice announced this week that five-term Conservative Member of Parliament Rob Merrifield would be appointed as Alberta’s representative in Washington D.C. Mr. Merrifield’s resignation from the House of Commons means that a federal by-election will need to be called in the Yellowhead riding by March 17, 2015. This would be the fourth federal […]

Alberta Diary: Alberta Premier Jim Prentice plucks the low-hanging fruit – now for the hard stuff…

If getting rid of SAM wasn’t that easy, imagine what the green eggs and ham are going to be like! Above, Premier Jim Prentice with the licence plate Alberta won’t be dumping after all. (CBC photo) Below: The typical Progressive Conservative, not necessarily exactly as illustrated.

It’s one thing to let a couple of pieces of ill-considered and unpopular legislation die on the order paper.

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice did that yesterday with Bills 9 and 10, two bad ideas cooked up by the brainiacs in Alison Redford’s inner circle to make the anti-public-service and financial services lobbies happy by (Read more…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Tories impose a strict policy of de-Redfordization

TweetThe strength of any long-ruling political party is the ability to reinvent itself under new leaders and changing circumstances. After 43-years in power, Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Association has successfully rebranded itself under five leaders, in many cases by attacking the political record of its previous leadership. Alberta’s seventh PC Party Premier, Jim Prentice, set about this week distancing himself from some of the […]

Alberta Diary: Ex-leadership candidate Thomas Lukaszuk vows to pen tell-all book on Alison Redford’s rule

Your blogger with budding author Thomas Lukaszuk, back during the former deputy premier’s campaign to lead the PC Party. Below: Former PC premier Alison Redford; current PC Premier Jim Prentice.

I’ve gotta say, I’m really looking forward to my free copy of Thomas Lukaszuk’s tell-all book about how he tried to save the Redford Government but the premier just wouldn’t let him. A great review is almost guaranteed!

Seriously, I’m assuming this literary endeavor means Mr. Lukaszuk has decided he doesn’t have much of a career in the government of Premier Jim Prentice. At any rate, it seems unlikely he (Read more…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Will Gordon Dirks become the latest inter-provincial political jumper?

TweetThe controversial appointment of unelected Gordon Dirks as Education minister caught many Albertans by surprised this week. As the former chairman of the Calgary Board of Education, he is well-known to educators in that city, but not to the rest of Alberta. Before moving to Calgary, he served as a Progressive Conservative MLA in the Saskatchewan Legislature […]

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…)

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…)

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…)

In This Corner: Worst. Leadership race. Ever.

Somewhere in my collection of flotsam and jetsam of old newspaper clippings from my youth, I have the famous Edmonton Journal paper from the day after the Progressive Conservatives, under Peter Lougheed, finally toppled the Social Credit dynasty. The headline, written in massive type in true Tory blue, read: “Now! It’s Lougheed!”

Now, as the longest reigning Canadian provincial government in Canadian history staggers to the finish line of its third leadership race in eight years, the most likely headline should be “Finally … it’s Prentice.”

On Saturday, the PCs will announce the winner of their leadership race, (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 […]