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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…) - Alberta politics: Rejection of Gay-Straight Alliances motion shows some Alberta MLAs need a reality check

TweetBe it resolved that the Legislative Assembly urge the Government to introduce legislation, like Manitoba’s and Ontario’s, requiring all school boards to develop policies to support students who want to lead and establish gay-straight alliance activities and organizations, using any name that is consistent with the promotion of a positive school environment that is inclusive, […] - 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: PC finances: looks like Armageddon for Tories and Wildrose Apocalypse for the rest of us

Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith, on horseback, gazes at all that remains of Alberta’s once-mighty Alberta Progressive Conservative dynasty. Actual Alberta politicians may not appear quite so metaphorically. Below: PC Party Executive Director Kelley Charlebois.

We can probably thank former Alberta premier Alison Redford for breaking the spine of the 43-year Progressive Conservative dynasty in this province. For, after not quite two and a half years of her leadership, broken it appears to be.

If you want proof this is so, look no further than the lamentable financial condition in which the party finds itself today.

We already knew (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Alison Redford and the misogyny defence: does it really hold any water?

Former Alberta Premier Alison Redford in happier times, as we remember her on the eve of her selection as PC Party leader in the fall of 2011.

The suggestion former Alberta Premier Alison Redford was treated differently, and was presumably fired by her party more peremptorily, because she is a woman is generating considerable heat if not a great deal of light in political circles in Alberta.

This claim first surfaced a few days before Ms. Redford’s political ship sank, at a time when her Progressive Conservative Party was in a state of open rebellion against her leadership. It has (Read more…)

Susan on the Soapbox: Alison Redford: The Puppet Premier?

On March 17, 2014, following Premier Redford’s tearful introduction of her daughter Sarah to the Legislative Assembly, the ND Opposition leader Brian Mason rose to ask the Premier a critical question:*

“I regret having to ask this question, but it must be asked. To the Premier: do you have enough support to keep governing?”

The government side of the house lept to its feet in a standing ovation; Ms Redford smiled and said: “Well, Mr Speaker, all I can do is thank the hon. Member for his question.”

Mr Mason continued: “The Premier says that she was (Read more…) - Alberta politics: Phone poll suggests NDP MLA testing waters for leadership bid?

TweetIs there an undeclared race underway to become leader of the Alberta NDP? An interactive voice response poll calling Albertans on February 11 suggests there just might be. The automated phone poll conducted by the Toronto-based Research House began with innocuous questions aimed at gaging opinions about the current Progressive Conservative government and other political party leaders, […] - Alberta politics: What a year 2014 has been in Alberta politics!

Tweet This year was a tumultuous time in Alberta politics. What does 2015 have in store for Albertans? December 20, 2014 Story by: Dirk Pranter, Edmonton Journal-Sun Building the next Alberta With the new year just weeks away, speculation is rampant Albertans could go to the polls early next year, less than four years after the last provincial […] - Alberta politics: Alberta politics 2013: The NDP Wildrose alliance

TweetPerhaps one of the most unexpected developments in Alberta politics in 2013 was the emergence of the informal alliance between the New Democratic Party and the Wildrose Official Opposition. It was not uncommon in 2013 to see NDP and Wildrose MLAs working together, or tackling the same issues during Question Period on the floor of […]

Susan on the Soapbox: One Dead Fish or More Big Ideas? The Quality of Debate in Redford’s Government

Premier Redford complains bitterly about the quality of debate in the Legislature; apparently we need more “big ideas” and less “parochial debate”.*

However her Environmental Minister continues to provide fatuous explanations for why it took nineteen days to issue an Environmental Protection Order in connection with the largest coal mining waste water spill in Canadian history.

On Oct 31, Obed released one billion litres of waste water into the Athabasca River. A toxic plume 150 kilometers long and the size of 400 Olympic sized swimming pools is now working its way to the Arctic Ocean. The government (Read more…)

Susan on the Soapbox: Alison Redford’s Vision for Alberta–”Trust Industry” (gulp)

Brian Mason (NDP) is right. The only way to find out what’s going on in Alison Redford’s head is to pay to attend a function in her honour.

Glenbow Museum

So on Monday night, Mr Soapbox and I were milling about at the Glenbow Museum, debating about whether to sneak off to see the A Y Jackson exhibit or parade dutifully into the lecture hall to hear Premier Redford expound on her vision for “Building Alberta”.

We’d paid $65 each for the privilege so we opted for the lecture hall and spent an hour watching Dylan Jones, president of (Read more…) - Alberta politics: Nomination races begin for federal election 2015

TweetThere are 705 days until Monday, October 19, 2015, when the next Canadian federal election is scheduled to be held. With less than two years until Canadians choose who will serve as Members of Parliament and with new electoral boundaries coming into effect at the next election, candidates across Alberta are preparing to seek party […]

Susan on the Soapbox: The Trouble with Hubris: Doug Griffiths’ Bill 28 goes into Freefall

Like Icarus, strapping on wings of feathers and wax, Municipal Affairs Minister Griffiths attempted to glide Bill 28 Modernizing Regional Governance Act through the Legislature. It sparked an uproar among municipal officials and disintegrated under the Oppositions’ scrutiny.

Griffiths and the Premier responded to the crash and burn with a cheeky “this is exactly what we meant to do along” press release and created a task force to do the consultation they should have done in the first place.

Setting aside the obvious explanation (hubris), what the heck happened?

A “legal technicality”

Griffiths argued that Bill 28 was no (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: U of A counters Redford Government whims by skimming institutes’ donations

Why send guys like these when you can just skim the cash right off the top? Actual employees of the University of Alberta Accounting department may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: U of A President Indira Samarasekera.

Well, I don’t suppose you can accuse the University of Alberta of shaking down the Parkland Institute.

At any rate, U of A President Indira Samarasekera isn’t sending over someone named Vinnie the Claw to collect the vig. But why bother with that kind of nonsense when you can just take the money?

Thanks in significant part to the appalling funding situation (Read more…) - Alberta politics: The ghosts of senate reform haunt the Harper Conservatives

TweetThe ghosts of Senate reform will haunt Prime Minister Stephen Harper as his party establishment gathers in Calgary on Halloween to discuss and debate party policy. After more than seven years in office, Mr. Harper’s Conservatives have accomplished little on the issue of reforming the Canadian Senate. Who would have thought that a Senate scandal […]

Alberta Diary: Ceremonial Speech to Chamber starts session, sitting or whatever: Some Honourable Members, ‘Arf! Arf!’

Heather Forsyth, who after years in the Alberta Legislature has suffered significant hearing loss, and Quill, the topic of the most interesting Alberta news story of the day.

Tout le monde Alberta news media were busily explaining yesterday afternoon that a new session of the Alberta Legislature had commenced at last, with some fairly routine sparring between the government and the opposition as it happened.

Easy mistake to make, under the circumstances, although this appears not technically to be true, seeing as it was the fourth sitting of the first session of the 28th Legislature, and it merely (Read more…) - Alberta politics: Wildrose can grow from Tory seeds of doubt

TweetDo you drain a Lake of Fire or do you dam it? Whatever it takes, Wildrose Party activists are expected to moderate the tone of their policies at their weekend policy convention in the booming central Alberta city of Red Deer. A delicate and sometimes shaky coalition of libertarians and social conservatives (among other groups), […]

Susan on the Soapbox: The Smith vs Mason Debate: An Enlightening Evening

“Tonight we will witness a debate of Epic Proportions! “In the Right Corner, the Freedom Fighter—Danielle Smith!!! In the Left Corner, the Protector of the People—Brian Mason!!!”

Mount Royal University was hosting the ninth and final debate between Wildrose leader, Danielle Smith, and NDP leader, Brian Mason. We expected to see sinewy kickboxers pouncing on each other in the fighting cage. Instead we got two respectful politicians (an oxymoron?) who were able to disagree without being disagreeable.

Danielle Smith enters the debate

They were entertaining, informative and downright funny. Mason conceded the starting (Read more…) - Alberta politics: Alberta Liberals on the move, still searching for direction

TweetTo the sound of muted fanfare, the Alberta Liberal Party is holding its annual policy convention tomorrow in Calgary. Attempting to revive a faded brand, the Liberals plan to tackle a series of controversial topics that they hope will set them apart from Alberta’s other political parties. After hosting pre-convention policy meetings in Calgary and […]

Susan on the Soapbox: A Dead Cat Bounce: Redford’s Approval Rating Up to 32%

It’s called a “dead cat bounce”. It’s based on the premise that even a dead cat bounces when it slips off a 12th floor balcony and lands on the sidewalk (contrary to popular belief most sky-diving cats aren’t lucky enough to land in a rose bush).

Skydiving cat (really)

This distressing analogy is used in business when share prices, commodity prices, or any measure of corporate performance, blips up and the reason for that blip is unsustainable—a hurricane that temporarily disables petrochemical manufacturing plants in the US Gulf Coast will cause an uptick in commodity prices because supply (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Strange political bedfellows are conjuring more than entertainment in Alberta

A poster advertising last night’s NDP-Wildrose leaders’ debate at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Below: Odd couple Brian Mason and Danielle Smith, captured in electrons by Dave Cournoyer of the blog.

Alberta New Democratic Party Leader Brian Mason and Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith debated each other at the University of Alberta in Edmonton last night.

According to those who were there, their verbal jabs were highly entertaining. “Ms. Smith and Mr. Mason playfully sparred over issues facing the energy sector, pipelines, the economy, post-secondary education, health care and public services,” wrote blogger Dave Cournoyer, who (Read more…) - Alberta politics: Mason vs Smith: Wildrose and NDP leaders on province-wide debate tour

TweetThree years before the next provincial election, a public debate tour might not be where you would expect to find the leaders of two political parties. Breaking convention, Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith and Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason are joining forces to bring provincial politics to college and university campuses across Alberta. In the […]

Alberta Diary: 70-plus AHS VPs over the side: Alberta doesn’t reinvent the health care system – sort of…

Another visually riveting moment in the history of Alberta Health Services – from left to right, CEO Chris Eagle, Health Minister Fred Horne and just-appointed Deputy Health Minister Janet Davidson at yesterday’s news conference in Edmonton, exactly as illustrated. Below: NDP Leader Brian Mason speaks for the opposition; new AHS Administrator Dr. John Cowell.

Methinks the minister doth protest too much.

OK, I didn’t count. But Health Minister Fred Horne, Alberta Health Services Chief Executive Officer Chris Eagle and Janet Davidson – we’ll get to who she is in just a moment – kept insisting at their press conference yesterday (Read more…) - Alberta politics: Politics with your Folk

TweetFor this political junkie, one of the small highlights of attending Edmonton’s Folk Music Festival each year is flipping through the $5 programme book to sneak a look at the political ads placed in the programme guide. The political ads are always from politicians sitting in the political centre or left and the best ones are […]

Alberta Diary: The optics of politics in Alberta, or how to stay focused and in the picture…

Your blogger with the premier of Alberta. Somewhere below: Your blogger with a person who very well could be the next premier of Alberta. Or not.


There’s something to be said for getting along with people even if you don’t agree with them.

Seriously, you can get stuff done that way. Just saying…

Not that having your picture taken with someone proves much in that regard, as Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto, would be the first to tell you. Or his lawyer, anyway, who recently informed the Globe and Mail: “Say somebody says,

‘Here, take a picture,’ (Read more…)