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Alberta Diary: Once a Tory leadership front-runner, Gary Mar reaches out from Asia to haunt Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives

Brian Mulroney, right, famously responds to the claim made by John Turner, left, that he had “no option” but approve Pierre Trudeau’s patronage appointments. Below: Gary Mar in 2011.

Advice to Jim Prentice: If, in some future pre-election leaders’ debate someone asks you about Gary Mar’s 2013 compensation package, don’t say: “I had no option.”

In fact, that would be true if Mr. Prentice were to say it. Ditto Ric McIver, the second- or third-runner, depending how you calculate it, in the 2014 version of the Progressive Conservative Party leadership race.

As for Thomas Lukaszuk, he was in cabinet (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Deputy Health Minister Janet Davidson’s compensation: glaring omission in Alberta Sunshine List coverage explained

Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne with Janet Davidson shortly after he announced her appointment as Deputy Minister in September 2013. Below: Service Alberta Deputy Minister Jay Ramotar; Lord Black of Crossharbour in his role as honourary lieutenant colonel of the Governor General’s Foot Guards.

And the top paid Alberta civil servant is … not even on the media’s Top Ten List from the government’s so-called Sunshine List of 2013 civil service salaries!

Just for the record, Alberta’s top paid civil servant is Janet Davidson, deputy minister of health and an Officer of the Order of Canada, with a spectacular annual (Read more…)

ParliamANT Hill: AlbertAnt country singer, seeks ConservAntive nod

Inspired by this headline:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/george-canyon-alberta-country-singer-seeks-conservative-nod-1.2509176

Calgary Grit: Canada’s New Government Turns 8

Today marks the 8th anniversary of Stephen Harper’s election as Prime Minister. At the time, a lot of Liberals figured they could turn him into Joe Clark after a quick leadership change. Yet, by this time next year, Harper will have passed Louis St. Laurent, Robert Borden, and Brian Mulroney, to become the 6th longest serving Prime Minister in Canadian history – and most succesful conservative in over a century.

That’s the good news. The bad news for Harper is that it’s hard to fight the “time for a change” bug. Trudeau and King both lost elections after around a (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Why I voted for Jim Coutts in 1984 and probably would again, a lesson in retail politics

Jim Coutts, son of the Great Plains and, as long-time principal secretary to Liberal prime minister Pierre Trudeau, once said to be the second most powerful person in Canada. (University of Lethbridge photo.) Below: The Lancaster bomber arrives in Nanton, inconveniently huge, but still too small to house a roadside café; my uncle, Fred Garratt, who ran Nanton’s hardware store.

I only met Jim Coutts once, almost 30 years ago, and only for about 30 minutes, but he left an impression that has proven indelible and taught me a couple of worthwhile lessons about retail politics in the process.

(Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Warning to Canadians: Reefer Madness in Colorado and Washington could mean the end of civilization as we know it!

Your intrepid blogger with one of the wholesome and touristic murals of Legal, Alberta – evidence Civilization As We Know It survives in Canada, thank goodness! Note the crowds of tourists. Below: Perfesser Dave; Mural on the Legal Post Office; Mural on the wall of Denver Airport; So, do you stand with civilization (Legal murals), or Colorado chaos (legal marijuana)?

MEMORANDUM: Suggested Federal Tory Campaign Strategy TO: CPC Strategical Staff, Prime Minister’s Office FROM: Perfesser Dave, Political Consultant

Reefer Madness hit Colorado and Washington State yesterday, the first day of 2014. As a result, civilization as we know it (Read more…)

Montreal Simon: Stephen Harper’s South Africa Trip Starts Badly

Well I see Stephen Harper's trip to the Mandela funeral started off on a high note, with a macabre political version of the Mile High Club.With Harper obviously glad to leave the sordid Senate scandal behind him, and consorting with three former Prime Ministers.Even tweeting this photo of him and his old arch enemy Jean Chretien…

But I did notice that Great Ugly Leader was the only one drinking, and no wonder eh?Read more »

Alberta Diary: No surprise, Alberta PCs endorse Alison Redford with the traditional 77% Solution

A couple of political pundits try to explain to Alberta Premier Alison Redford, centre, why the 77 Per Cent Solution may not be a good thing after all. Actual Alberta premiers may not appear exactly as illustrated. Note that the previous reference has nothing to do with illegal drugs or Rob Ford. Below: Ed Stelmach, Clint Dunford and Ralph Klein.

The members of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party – whoever they may be at this particular moment in history – endorsed Premier Alison Redford yesterday to the tune of 77 per cent.

What good will come of that, you wonder?

“Why (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: 70%? 66.9%? 55.9%? 50%+1 good enough for Alison Redford this evocative weekend

Alison Redford, ready for her endorsement vote tomorrow, as rendered by Edmonton artist William Prettie. Below: former Canadian prime minister Joe Clark, late U.S. president John F. Kennedy, both of whom figure in this blog post about Alberta politics for some reason.

Was it insularity and tone deafness, or Machiavellian cleverness, that led the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party to time the opening of the convention that includes Premier Alison Redford’s leadership review to coincide with the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination?

Or is 50 years long enough that it’s just a weird coincidence that was (Read more…)

Montreal Simon: Stephen Harper, Brian Mulroney, and the Big Tomato

Well there he was the other day, trying to run away from the Senate scandal, while claiming scandalously that his trade deal with the Europeans was bigger than Brian Mulroney's free trade deal. Prime Minister Stephen Harper touted the benefits of the Canada-EU free trade agreement to a business crowd in Montreal that included the architect of the Canada-U.S. free trade deal negotiated 25 years earlier.Even though we don't know what's in his new trade deal. Even though the Europeans are secretly bragging that they took Canada to the cleaners. And even though the Euro zone's economy (Read more…)

daveberta.ca - 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: How will we get back to the 19th Century without Stephen Harper? Why he should go, and won’t

A forlorn Richard Nixon waves goodbye to Washington for the last time from the steps of the presidential helicopter on Aug. 9, 1974. Don’t count on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to do the same thing any time soon, even if it destroys his party. Below: Stephen Harper looking appropriately gloomy in a Toronto Star photo grabbed from the Internet.

My first exposure to the news business from the inside was during the summer of 1973, the year the Watergate Scandal really rattled the United States and the cracks began to appear in the administration of President Richard Nixon.

The newsroom (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Former Tory strategist Allan Gregg rips Harper Cons’ ‘systematic attack’ on facts and reason

A couple of old guys born just before the last King passed on, one of them your blogger, the other the pollster and former Tory strategist Allan Gregg. Below: Mr. Gregg in his iconoclastically Conservative heyday.

Long-time Tory pollster and strategist Allan Gregg ripped into the Harper Government on Saturday for what he termed its “systematic attack on evidence-based research.”

But since Mr. Gregg was speaking to the annual convention of the Alberta Federation of Labour, his startling comments went completely unremarked by Alberta’s mainstream media – notwithstanding the readily available “local angle” of an Edmonton native who did (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Wicked Witch war of words: ‘Has Thatcher bashing crossed a line?’ Well, er… no!

The Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz. Below, Ezra Levant in an orange wig with a can of Orange Crush mocks Jack Layton’s funeral. RIP or give it a rest?

Oh my – quelle horreur! – naughty Britons still appalled by the depredations visited upon their country by Margaret Thatcher’s government have shocked and appalled the world by pushing “Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead!” to the top of the charts.

In case you missed it, the former British prime minister, who was in office from 1979 to 1990, died on Monday at 87. But (Read more…) took until yesterday for the song from the Wizard of Oz – an apt metaphor itself for the operational side of neocon governments everywhere – to mischievously reach No. 1 on the British Broadcasting Corp.’s weekly music chart.

The right-wing media in Britain and, quite naturally, here . . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Wicked Witch war of words: ‘Has Thatcher bashing crossed a line?’ Well, er… no!

The Ranting Canadian: Brian Mulroney is going to be part of Canada’s official…

Brian Mulroney is going to be part of Canada’s official gaggle of groupies at Maggie Thatcher’s Bukkake party on April 17, 2013 in London, England.

Yes, that Mulroney; the disgraced former prime minister who took bribes, defrauded Canadians of millions of dollars, cheated on his taxes and resigned under a cloud of corruption (not necessarily in that order). Stephen Harper, Canada’s disgraced current prime minister, is the shithead who invited him for the free ride.

No doubt the dishonourable John “Angry” Baird will be there too. He met Thatcher once, and even named his cat after her. What a pussy!

. . . → Read More: The Ranting Canadian: Brian Mulroney is going to be part of Canada’s official…

Trashy's World: So. My conservative friends…

… ex PC PM Brian Mulroney… I guess he was a real asshole, eh? A lefty pig? Never agreed with everything BM the PM said or did, but I do respect the guy… especially in the context of the über partisan Harperites. So how about it, Cons? Are ya gonna demonise one of Canada’s better [...]

The Ranting Canadian: Faces of Evil This one isn’t a music video; it is chilling…

Faces of Evil

This one isn’t a music video; it is chilling old footage of Margaret Thatcher having afternoon tea with her close personal friend and political ally Augusto Pinochet, the murderous quasi-fascist dictator of Chile who overthrew a democratically elected government in a bloody coup.

Thatcher was an evil, evil, dirty politician, Hopefully her last few days on Earth were full of pain and suffering, as punishment for the pain and suffering she inflicted on millions of others.

Of the main 1980s proponents of Chicago School trickle-down capitalism — Milton Friedman, Pinochet, Ronald Reagan and Brian Mulroney —Thatcher is (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: The Legend of Brian Mulroney

Actually, our former Prime Minister is more a legend in his own mind, but then, confronting harsh reality has never been one of Mr. Mulroney’s strong suits. His litigious past serves as ample testament to that fact.

But myth is always much more exciting than truth, and what better myth could Mulroney propagate than the one about the free-trade agreement his government negotiated 25 years ago with the United States? Last week, he made an appearance at the University of Toronto’s Rotman business school, where more than 700 guests gathered to commemorate his government’s ‘great’ achievement. In his usual

. . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: The Legend of Brian Mulroney

Eclectic Lip: Wynne-win for Canada! And, is America ready for another white male President?

I welcomed Kathleen Wynne‘s victory in the leadership race for the ruling Ontario Liberal Party this past Saturday, even though I live in faraway British Columbia. And I do mean far away — seriously, the International Space Station is ten times closer to the surface of the earth, than Vancouver is to Toronto. (Though that probably says more about how not-so-far-away the International Space Station is to us.)

Wynne is of course lesbian, and her ascent to the Premiership of Ontario — Canada’s most populous province — is a matter of minor national pride, whatever her

. . . → Read More: Eclectic Lip: Wynne-win for Canada! And, is America ready for another white male President?

Eclectic Lip: The Black Swan’s Thanksgiving Turkey

(originally written Nov 24, 2011. Part of Great Upload of 2013.)

It came to my attention that Naseem Nicholas Taleb, who authored The Black Swan (surprisingly, not about a ballet dancer, but about financial crises) discussed other avians in his book, among them the Thanksgiving turkey. Per the Wikipedia page, he seems to’ve co-opted the idea from a turkey anecdote by philosopher Bertrand Russell, whose atheism doubtless led antagonists to brand him cuckoo.

The abrupt change in the turkey’s situation is part of an argument that it’s ridiculous to project present trends very far into

. . . → Read More: Eclectic Lip: The Black Swan’s Thanksgiving Turkey

Alberta Diary: Idle No More protests successfully wind up Alberta solicitor general

Alberta Solicitor General and Justice Minister Jonathan Denis, right, reacts to word of an Idle No More road blockade while Calgary Sun columnist Rick Bell looks on. Actual Alberta politicians and commentators may not appear precisely as illustrated. Below: the real Denis the Menace before he popped a gasket and the real Dinger.

Surprising as this may seem to alert readers in other parts of the country, protest is in fact permitted out here in Alberta. However, like strikes by unionized workers, it is usually only allowed if it’s completely ineffective.

So it should be easy for us to understand

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Idle No More protests successfully wind up Alberta solicitor general

Alberta Diary: Order of Canada for Stevie Cameron sets the right tone for the coming Year of Mulroney

Happy New Year … and this time I mean it! Author and cook Stevie Cameron wearing the official regalia of a member of the Order of Canada. Actual Order of Canada recipients may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: The real Ms. Cameron; Brian Mulroney, the 18th prime minister of Canada, wearing his OiC pin in his official portrait by Igor Babailov, which kind of captures the guy, you have to admit.

What a delightful and ironic twist on which to end one year and start another was the announcement yesterday that Stevie Cameron had been awarded the Order of

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Order of Canada for Stevie Cameron sets the right tone for the coming Year of Mulroney

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: A History of recent Federal By-Elections in Alberta.

TweetThe November 26 by-election in Calgary-Centre will be the fourth federal by-election held in Alberta in the past twenty-six years. In that time, only one of the by-elections saw the election of a candidate not from the incumbent political party. All three by-elections were won by candidates representing conservative parties. Pembina By-election (September 29, 1986) [...]

OPSEU Diablogue: Rachlis tireless in myth-busting around health care sustainability

It’s good to see Dr. Michael Rachlis on the opinion pages of today’s Toronto Star. Rachlis has been tireless in his myth-busting around the sustainability of health care. As he points out today, total health care costs as a percentage … Continue reading →

Alberta Diary: The rehabilitation of Brian Mulroney: There’s a reason he’s looking so good these days

Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney in his heyday, grabbed from the website of Libraries and Archives Canada, and doesn’t he just look terrific! Below: Mr. Mulroney as he appears nowadays; Earnscliffe Strategies Principal Robin Sears.

Have you noticed how Brian Mulroney is looking pretty good lately?

Back in the day, after Mr. Mulroney left office in 1993 as the Conservative prime minister who brought us “free” trade, failed constitutional change and sundry other disasters, real and imagined, he could have been fairly described as the most unpopular man in Canada.

And that was before the sleazy sounding but never proven

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: The rehabilitation of Brian Mulroney: There’s a reason he’s looking so good these days