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Alberta Diary: What the Fraser Institute’s numbers actually show, minus the spin: Alberta has a revenue problem, not a spending problem

The Fraser Institute: peddling conclusions that don’t match the evidence and have enough holes to store captured carbon. Actual Fraser Institute “fellows” may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: A piece of Swiss cheese, which may actually resemble the claims in a Fraser Institute press release, metaphorically speaking.

If the Fraser Institute told the whole truth, or if the mainstream media did its job, here’s the what the first sentence of the Edmonton Journal’s story about the institute’s most recent “report” could have said:

“Alberta’s finances are in better shape than other energy-producing provinces and states, says a report released (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Our Monochromatic Political Leadership

The images are graphic and heartbreaking – buildings reduced to rubble, maimed and dead children strewn among that rubble, families fractured, lives broken beyond repair. Were it not for the distancing effect that television news inevitably brings, the pictures would be overwhelming, leaving room for nothing but despair.

Thus is the reality of the ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza, a seemingly insoluble situation aided and abetted by a West that offers nothing but the staunch bromide of Israeli’s ‘right to defend itself,’ an assertion with which few would disagree.

And therein lies the problem. That reflexive cliche whenever Israeli ‘excesses’ (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: A meditation on the parlous state of the prime ministerial belfry: is he batty, or what?

Psychological-political portrait of Prime Minister Stephen Harper by Edmonton artist William Prettie. (Used with permission.) Below: The young Vladimir Putin; the young Stephen Harper.

When I ponder our prime minister’s mental state nowadays, my mind spontaneously offers up a rude phrase about the things bats leave behind in belfries.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has got a national election looming; he’s none too popular in certain essential parts of the country and not quite popular enough just now in others; Disgraced Canadian Senator Mike Duffy is facing a criminal trial and apparently wants the PM on the witness stand; it’s (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: You could drive one of those tar sands heavy haulers through the gaping holes in the latest Fraser Institute ‘study’ of Alberta’s finances

A worker in Fort McMurray prepares to drive this truck through the holes in the Fraser Institute’s “report,” which claims Alberta’s finances are in worse shape than those of places like Texas, North Dakota and Louisiana. Below: The Norwegian oil port of Stavanger, which, according to the Fraser Institute, doesn’t exist!

Alberta should adopt a sales tax, according to the latest press release from the Fraser Institute.

But don’t worry, the latest piece of far-right puffery from the market-fundamentalist “think tank” – which prefers to refer to this bumpf as a “study” or a “report” – only advocates a consumption (Read more…)

Scott's DiaTribes: Blog Interview with Michael Levitt – LPC candidate for York-Centre

Today, I’m publishing an interview I’ve done with Michael Levitt, who is the LPC candidate for York-Centre. This was the riding held by such Liberal stalwarts as Art Eggleton and Ken Dryden. Mr. Dryden was one of those who got swept away in the Liberal collapse in the 905 region of Ontario back in the ’11 election. It is currently held by Mark Adler for the Conservatives, and Mr. Levitt is going to be trying hard to return it to the LPC. Here are a series of questions I asked Mr. Levitt (who I had the pleasure of meeting in (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Russia must be stopped! And Peter Goldring’s just the man to do it! We’ll fight to the last Frenchman and German!

After we’ve won the war with Russia, a beachhead in the Caribbean! Edmonton MP Peter Goldring as illustrated by Press Progress. Below: Rob Ford, Louis Riel, Ann of Green Gables and last year’s military licence plate, which is presumably the same as this year’s military licence plate.

Whenever you think it’s safe to start ridiculing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford again, Peter Goldring opens his mouth, proving that this province remains Canada’s Home Sweet Alabamberta of egregious political bufoonery.

Mr. Goldring, 69, is the Member of Parliament for Edmonton East and the source many of the more entertaining if inconsequential political (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Canada’s anti-union lobby is at the heart of the deceptive campaign for more Temporary Foreign Workers – why’s that, d’ya think?

Canadians need not apply? Actual Canadian store displays may not appear exactly as illustrated. But the intent of the AstroTurf TFW lobby is to bust unions and weaken the bargaining power of Canadian workers. Below: Employment Minister and former Canadian Taxpayers Federation operative Jason Kenney; former Canadian Federation of Independent Business president and current “Working Canadians” spokesperson Catherine Swift; and CTF board member and Canadian Labour Watch Association President John Mortimer.

Judging from what they read and hear in the news, Canadians can be forgiven for concluding a large number of organizations representing a broad range of opinions are lobbying (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: The most important Duffy trial must be held in the court of public opinion

Mike Duffy, back in pre-Senatorial days, but already feeling the heat. Below: A more recent shot of Senator Duffy; former prime ministerial chief of staff Nigel Wright.

How could the handoff of a $90,000 cheque to Senator Mike Duffy by the prime minister’s chief of staff not be worthy of prosecution while the acceptance of the same piece of paper by the senator is?

Wherever the trial of Mr. Duffy leads us in the months and years to come, this is the question ordinary Canadians are scratching their heads about today as they pick up a whiff of something not (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Climate change divestment movement gains ground in church – but not in Canadian media or political circles

Ho-hum… Some typical Canadian reporters, hard at work … Actual Canadian newsrooms may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Is he more influential than we imagined in Alberta?

CALGARY

When retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited Alberta’s Tarpatch capital of Fort McMurray last month and called the output from bitumen mining “filth,” the commentary here in Alberta was pretty predictable.

The right-wing rage machine creaked briefly to life, complained bitterly about celebrities who don’t know what they’re talking about just passing through, and then moved on to other complaints.

About the kindest thing said about (Read more…)

Scott's DiaTribes: Kate Holloway and Dan Fox for Toronto City Council; more endorsers for Danielle Takacs

A couple of items for you today. I don’t live in Toronto, so you might be wondering why I would endorse folks who are running for Toronto City Council. Quite simply, I’ve known Dan and Kate personally for a long time from their provincial and federal connections, and I count them as friends, so why wouldn’t I?

Dan Fox is who I’ll talk about first; I’ve previously mentioned him, but I’ll mention him again: he is running in Ward 24 against a city councillor who I understand voted for Rob Ford supported agenda items a fair bit. That makes me (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: ‘Targeted exemptions’ for TFWs – Tory fund-raising tool, a backyard maquiladora in every neighbourhood, or both?

Typical Canadian fast-food help, as seen by Canadian fast-food employers, sort of. Below: Employment Minister Jason Kenney in Stampede-Week-appropriate garb and the CFIB’s Richard Truscott.

ST. ALBERT, Alberta

Unemployment has climbed to 7.1 per cent in Canada and yet a key segment of the Harper Government’s donor base is screeching for more Temporary Foreign Workers. What to do?

From the perspective of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, this is a serious problem. Too many Canadians remain unpersuaded by the hysterical campaign cranked up by the country’s retail business sector to turn the TFW spigot back to full, and to do (Read more…)

Scott's DiaTribes: Interview with Tyler Banham – running to be LPCO President

I’ve had the chance to have an interview with Tyler, the current Executive VP of the LPCO, who recently announced he will be running for the LPCO President position. That will be voted on by delegates Sept 12-14 in Markham (the same convention will also elect LPCO VP of Communications – which Jeff Jedras is running for and who I endorsed last week)

I was curious about this position, what it entails, and why someone would want to run for it, so I asked Tyler for an interview, which he agreed to. I submitted 5 questions to him, and his (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: The horror! The horror! Brent Rathgeber and the St. Albert Chamber of Commerce on the nightmare of too few TFWs

St. Albert by night. My lord! What would we do if the local McDonald’s wasn’t open at 3 a.m.! Below: Edmonton-St. Albert MP Brent Rathgeber.

St. ALBERT, Alberta

I have a challenge for Edmonton-St. Albert Member of Parliament Brent Rathgeber, the St. Albert Chamber of Commerce and all the other hysterics wailing about the disaster wrought by the federal government when it imposed some modest limitations on the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, some of which don’t apply to Alberta anyway.

Show me one – just one! – Alberta company that’s had to go out of business because of a (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Whatever the ‘Canadian Taxpayers Federation’ is, it’s certainly not a ‘tax watchdog’ – let’s stop calling it one!

“Canadian Taxpayers Federation” Alberta Communications Director Derek Fildebrandt dressed up for a typical CTF stunt, which the media falls for every time. Below: Mr. Fildebrandt back in the days he was part of the Reagan-Goldwater Society at Carleton University; CTF board members Karen Selick, Adam Daifallah and John Mortimer. (Thumbnail photos grabbed from CTF’s website.)

While the Canadian Taxpayers Federation claims to be a “tax watchdog” that opposes waste and advocates transparency in government, evidence suggests its principal purposes are to provide partisan support for the Harper Government, fulfill the corporate agenda and undermine the rights of working people.

(Read more…)

wmtc: federal court again rules in favour of health care and basic decency, against radical harper agenda

A few days ago, the Federal Court of Canada ruled that the Harper Government’s denial of health care to refugee claimants from certain countries is unconstitutional and cannot stand. In a surprisingly strongly worded statement Friday, the federal court ruled Ottawa’s cutbacks to health-care coverage for refugee claimants are unconstitutional because they constitute “cruel and unusual” treatment.

The decision was quickly lauded by many, including the Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers and Justice for Children and Youth — groups that, along with two refugee claimants, challenged the law.

Of course the Government plans to (Read more…)

Scott's DiaTribes: Endorsed candidates – news for a #Brant one, and a new LPCO one!

I was very pleased to receive an email from Jeff Jedras – a Liberal blogger compatriot and friend of mine who has long blogged at A BC’er in Toronto, and who has announced he will be seeking the position of vice-president, communications of the Liberal Party of Canada (Ontario):

I have watched with concern and frustration at the growing disengagement of Canadians with federal politics — a trend encouraged and exploited by the Harper government. I believe we can and must reverse this trend, and it begins with giving Liberal activists across Ontario — you and me — the tools (Read more…)

Scott's DiaTribes: Federal Byelection thoughts/roundup

It was nice to see the media punditry declare that Justin Trudeau had passed another “test” of his leadership by winning 2 seats (gaining the former NDP held Olivia Chow seat of Trinity Spadina) and having a nice increase in the Alberta seats (where sadly my colleague Kyle Harrietha just came up a bit short, but he ran a great campaign). I don’t know how many more of these tests JT has to pass however before they decide he’s for real or a threat to Harper.

Speaking of Harper, he should be ashamed of himself for deliberately putting these byelections (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: CTF bullying and misinformation: just what’s ‘wacky’ about rape prevention research?

Canadian Taxpayers Association Federal Director Gregory Thomas dressed up as a professor, with a man dressed as a pig, at a CTF news conference trashing government support for academic research. A cameraman can be seen at left obligingly filming. Below: Dr. Melanie Beres, unfairly ridiculed by the CTF for her 2006 thesis; Mr. Thomas when he’s dressed as a grownup.

According to the comedians at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, a $17,500 grant by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to a promising young Alberta-trained sociologist whose research looks for ways to improve rape-prevention education is a waste (Read more…)

In This Corner: Dear Canada: It’s time to upgrade our greatests lists.

Happy 147th birthday, my fellow Canadians. I hope you’re enjoying the day by spending time with the family, maybe going to the lake, attending various Canada Day celebrations, etc. Me? I’m going to work. One way for millions to celebrate the birth of the dominion is to go shopping, and SOMEBODY has to be behind the counter to take your money. Sigh.

Anyway, before I head off to work, I’d like to give you something to contemplate. I think it’s time we took a good long look at our Canadian heroes, and what makes us proud to be Canadian. They (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Happy Canada Day from the prime minister of Canada and the premier of Alberta, channeled by Perfesser Dave

Oooooh! Happy Canada Day, Canadians. Enjoy yourselves. Prime Minister Steve Harper and Premier Dave Hancock wish they could be here with you and Perfesser Dave. Below: Mr. Hancock and Mr. Harper … Happy-Happy!

Happy Canada Day!

Perfesser Dave, here, the political predictions guy, speaking on behalf of my friends Stephen Harper and David Hancock, who weren’t available to talk to you last night.

Both of them were really, really busy getting ready for Canada Day today, but I know they would want me to let you know they hope you have the best Canada Day holiday ever! And they hope (Read more…)

Scott's DiaTribes: Happy Byelection Day!

Yes, its Byelection Day in Canada, thanks to our PM Stephen Harper, who apparently wants to try to set new records for low turnout in byelections.

Nevertheless, there are fouer races to watch, with the 2 of most interest being in Trinity-Spadina and Fort-Mcmurray-Athabasca. Adam Vaughan, former TO city councillor is hoping to wrest away the former seat of Olivia Chow from the NDP. You might wonder why I’m interested in Ft Mcmurray, since its supposedly safe for the Tories; well, a) I know Kyle Harrietha – he was an early Liberal blogger and still promninenbt on social media, and (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Big by-election in Fort McMurray? Never mind that! As goes Macleod, so goes Alberta…

Fort McMurray, before the Bitumen Boom. Things have changed. Below: Conservative Fort McMurray-Athabasca candidate David Yurdiga, Liberal candidate Kyle Harrietha, NDP candidate Lori McDaniel, former Conservative MP Brian Jean.

If the good people of Fort McMurray climb out of bed this morning and decide to elect a Liberal to represent them in Parliament, there will be shock, dismay and consternation throughout Alberta.

But, fear not my fellow Albertans, even in the unlikely event this happens, it almost certainly won’t mean whatever you are told it means.

Yes, today is the day after the weekend and the day before Canada Day (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: On the centenary of Gavrilo Princip’s fateful shot in Sarajevo, let’s learn the right lessons from history

Gavrilo Princip under arrest. Below: Princip and the Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

Today is the centenary of the day Gavrilo Princip took his little Belgian pistol to Sarajevo and blew the heir presumptive to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian empire into history.

As is well known, not long after young Princip caused the demise of Franz Ferdinand, archduke of Austria-Este and royal prince of Hungary and Bohemia, not to mention inspiration for future indie musicians, things went rapidly downhill.

Someone somewhere rolled the dice to score a strategic point or two in the Balkans – one of which, it’s been (Read more…)

Progressive Proselytizing: Peter MacKay’s wife doesn’t help his – or our – cause

The latest flap over sexist comments from Justice Minister Peter Mackay came about when a Mother’s and Father’s Day emails from Peter Mackay to his staff were leaked to the media. The comparison isn’t pretty: put side to side it makes it seems like mothers should be applauded for doing housework like changing diapers and making dinners while fathers are praised for moulding, guiding and influencing their children. Sigh.

That the comparison is clearly sexist shouldn’t exactly be controversial to most readers of this blog, but the blame game is a little less straight forward. Let’s get a few things (Read more…)

Song of the Watermelon: It’s the Climate, Stupid!

Not two weeks since the federal government’s long-anticipated approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline, the magnitude of the obstacles faced by the project are becoming clearer by the day.

There is widespread public hostility — both in Kitimat, envisioned as the pipeline’s end location, as well as across British Columbia more generally. First Nations and environmental groups have launched several court challenges, with more expected to come. Massive protests and civil disobedience are inevitable. Efforts will soon be underway to initiate a province-wide referendum. The government of BC, which must provide about 60 permits, is ambivalent about the (Read more…)