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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 Diary: Alberta Tories on public service pensions: ‘We lied. So what are you gonna do about it?’

As Tory leadership candidates Thomas Lukaszuk, standing, and Doug Horner look on, Alberta Premier pro tempore Dave Hancock tries out the barrel in which the next leader of the Progressive Conservative Party will lead their caucus over the falls. Actual Tory premiers and would-be premiers may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: International Affairs Minister Cal Dallas and Alberta Tory dynasty founder Peter Lougheed.

They may have skidded their most disastrous leader, but the brain trust now running Alberta’s foundering Progressive Conservative Government has made it abundantly clear they intend to press ahead with their scheme to demolish the progressive (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: If Albertans can’t trust actuary’s conclusions, why did AHS hire the same firm? Hint: it’s not the firm you can’t trust

The Alberta Health Services computing division, figuring out how much they spend on consultants this quarter, hard at work. Actual Alberta health bureaucrats may not appear exactly as illustrated.


It was interesting, surely, to read the Wildrose Party’s revelation yesterday that Alberta Health Services had spent close to a quarter of a billion dollars on consultants for such services as communications advice, executive coaching and fine arts expertise in a mere 18 months in 2012 and 2013.

But it was revealing, too, in a small way, to take a peek at whom some of the favoured consultants were on (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Municipal Affairs Minister Ken Hughes quits Alberta cabinet – presumably to run for PC leadership

Half-confirmed Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Ken Hughes, on the night in 2011 Alison Redford won the party’s leadership. Well, that was then and this is now, as the appalled looking unidentified passerby sensed to have sensed. Below: Doug Horner. Anyone else?

Alberta’s Municipal Affairs Minister quit his cabinet post yesterday, by the sound of it because he intends to run for the leadership of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party.

If that’s the reason for Ken Hughes unexpectedly showing up in one of the back rows of the Legislature’s latest seating chart – he didn’t give a lot of notice that (Read more…) - Alberta politics: PC Party leadership race off to a very slow start

TweetNineteen days have passed since former Premier Alison Redford announced her resignation and not one candidate has officially announced their intentions to enter the race to become the next leader of Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives. But there is at least one unofficial candidate, maybe. Municipal Affairs minister Ken Hughes made the strange move of resigning from […]

Alberta Diary: Tales from the Tory crypt: Apres Alison le deluge

Tory leadership non-candidate Jim Dinning with your blogger, back in the day. Below: Former premier Ed Stelmach and non-candidates Ted Morton and Gary Mar.

If we were to speak for former Alberta premier Alison Redford today, here is what we would say: “Apres moi le deluge!”

There is plenty of fight left in the Alberta PC Party. The trouble is, it is all directed inwardly, at other Tories.

On everything except the policies that must be changed to save the party, Alberta’s crumbling 43-year-old Progressive Conservatives dynasty is disunited, playing out its increasingly bitter rivalries in public.

Given that, (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Tory MLAs, reporters, right-wing ideologues take aim at Alison Redford for PC Party’s woes

The Alberta premier’s personal airship ties up alongside the Sky Palace Official First Minister’s Residence, high atop the former Federal Building in Edmonton. Actual official accommodations may not appear exactly as illustrated, even in the blueprints. Below: Former premiers Ralph Klein and Ed Stelmach.


Everyone is piling onto Alison Redford now, a phenomenon we can expect to continue for a few days or even weeks as three things happen.

First, journalists who were working on stories started during the former Alberta premier’s final days in power are going to want to get them filed and published as quickly as (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Alberta Premier Dave Hancock needs to apply his leadership candidates’ rules to secretive cabinet committee

A rare shot of a meeting of the Alberta government’s secretive Public Sector Resource Committee in session. Actual Alberta policymakers may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Premier Dave Hancock with former premier Alison Redford, back in the day, photo grabbed from


Is the Redford-Hancock Government’s Public Sector Resource Committee a cabinet committee, or merely a committee made up mostly of cabinet ministers?

This may sound like a technical and wonkish question, but it is actually an important one that needs to be dealt with by Alberta Premier Dave Hancock in his role of temporary custodian of (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Advice to Dave Hancock: sweet words won’t be enough for Alberta’s unhappy civil servants

Your blogger with Alberta’s newest premier, Dave Hancock, not so long ago. Below: U.S. presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon.

What a difference a few days can make! One leaves the province with one premier in power, figuratively bellowing threats at the civil service, and returns less than a week later to find another one, whispering sweet nothings in the same public employees’ ears!

Well, that’s not quite fair. Whomever Alison Redford was bellowing threats at last week, it wasn’t likely the Alberta civil service any more. In her mind, I suspect, she reckoned she’d already sorted (Read more…) - Alberta politics: PC Party opts for a short and expensive leadership campaign

TweetIn 2006, it was $15,000, in 2011, it was $40,000, and in 2011, the fee to become a candidate in the Progressive Conservative leadership race is $50,000. Senior officials from Alberta’s Progressive Conservative party gathered in Red Deer last night to discuss timelines, entry fees and the rules that will help shape their party’s 2014 […] - Alberta politics: 8 candidates who could run for the leadership of the Alberta PC Party

TweetWith yesterday’s announcement by Premier Alison Redford that she will resign on March 23, 2014, the Progressive Conservative caucus will need to select an interim premier and the PC Party is required to hold a leadership contest to select a new leader. Deputy Premier Dave Hancock and Agriculture minister Verlyn Olson have been rumoured as potential choices for interim […] - Alberta politics: LRT funding a big win for Edmonton, but it is enough to save Redford?

TweetJust five days after provincial finance minister Doug Horner was criticized for delivering a budget that was absent of additional funding to expand the south east section of the “Valley Line” of Edmonton’s LRT system, provincial politicians announced yesterday that it would commit $600 million towards the project. Surrounded by city councillors and local Progressive Conservative […]

Alberta Diary: Lousy polls? Redford Tories execute screeching reversal on southbound Edmonton LRT tracks

Fresh off a train in Edmonton’s Churchill LRT station, Alberta Premier Alison Redford announces $600 million surprise funding for an Edmonton LRT less than a week after her finance minister tabled a budget that didn’t mention it. Below: Finance Minister Doug Horner explains how the spending is really in the budget, even though it wasn’t mentioned; Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson looks relieved the government came through, but less than thrilled about the suspense.

How much is it worth to the Redford Government to improve its sagging poll results?

Looks like it’s about $600 million, $400 million anyway.

That’s how much (Read more…) - Alberta politics: Why Budget Day matters less every year

TweetGenerally speaking, Budget Day and the Speech from the Throne have been big events that gave Albertans an indication about the government’s agenda for the year ahead. This week, no real agenda was not laid out in the Throne Speech or in the provincial budget. Each event is stage-managed to allow the government an opportunity […]

Alberta Diary: Understanding Alberta’s 2014 budget: the deviltry’s in the details

Budget 2014: let the good times roll. Life’s great nowadays if you’re a Tory insider in Alberta – like these happy political staffers from the Premier’s Office. Actual political advisors to Premier Alison Redford may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Former Premier Ed Stelmach as he counted up ways he could save money; Ms. Redford.

Another million dollars for the Premier’s Office?

Now that’s interesting!

As in Pravda back in the day in that other one-party state, the name of which escapes me at the moment but which you’d think was still around judging from the chest-thumping 1960s-style rhetoric (Read more…) - Alberta politics: Airplane scandal takes off as Tory support, fundraising effort nose dives

TweetYesterday’s Speech from the Throne was old news as scandal erupted today over Premier Alison Redford’s alleged inappropriate use of government-owned airplanes. After facing criticism over her $45,000 trip to South Africa and a $9,200 trip from Palm Springs, Ms. Redford struggled to control the story today by announcing plans to pay $3,100 for costs […]

Alberta Diary: Redford Government resorts to bush-league law breaking as talks with civil servants hit another impasse

Members of the Alberta Government plan their latest strategy to hold the unionized civil service’s approximately 44,000 feet to the fire in negotiations. Actual government officials may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: William Aberhart.

Bargaining with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees at an impasse again, so the government of Premier Alison Redford has had the bright idea of breaking its own labour laws in desperate hopes of pressurizing AUPE members to push their union into agreeing to the latest employer offer.

This isn’t really the way labour relations are supposed to work in a society of laws, but (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Women hit by Redford Government’s pension cuts entitled to ask: ‘What are we? Chopped liver?’

Finance Minister Doug Horner and Alberta Premier Alison Redford attempt to skate around opposition to their planned cuts to public service pensions. Points have not yet been awarded for the maneuver. Actual Alberta politicians may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: The real Mr. Horner as he slipped past media and uninvited union leaders at Government House in Edmonton yesterday.

Finance Minister Doug Horner attempted to skate gracefully around Alberta’s furious public employees with some clever PR tactics yesterday when he publicly dictated the pension cuts he says they’re going to have to take, like ’em or not.

The results (Read more…) - Alberta politics: Fresh meat and Alberta politics

TweetFresh meat Last week, he was publicly criticizing Premier Alison Redford for her over-priced $45,000 trip to South Africa (see below) and faced a threat of expulsion from the Progressive Conservative caucus. This week, coincidentally, Edmonton-Riverview PC MLA Steve Young faces a new set of revelations dating back to his time as a Sergeant with the Edmonton […]

Alberta Diary: Deputy minister testifies officials prepared anti-labour Bill 46 ‘proactively’ long before cabinet asked for it

AUPE President Guy Smith speaks with the media after Friday’s session of the Alberta Labour Relations Board hearing. Below: Deputy Minister of the Executive Council Peter Watson; AUPE lawyer William Rigutto.

It’s probably too much to hope the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees can persuade the Alberta Labour Relations Board the Redford Government had already decided to hammer the union into the ground with legislation while it pretended to negotiate a contract last year.

The union’s argument in a Labour Relations Board hearing last week was that as direct employer of 21,000 civil servants, the government never negotiated in good (Read more…) - Alberta politics: A dozen Alberta MLAs worth watching in 2014

TweetBecause politics is unpredictable, forecasting the future can be a tricky business for pundits, but here is a list of a dozen Alberta MLAs worth watching in 2014. Manmeet Bhullar (Calgary-Greenway): An up and comer in the PC ranks, Mr. Bhullar was rewarded for his time as the competent Service Alberta minister with an appointment […]

Alberta Diary: Alberta’s 13 most under-reported political news stories of 2013

Another aircraft takes off from Fort McMurray International Aerodrome loaded with CO2 captured from Alberta’s Athabasca bitumen sands. The gas will be stored in the basements of Russian buildings as part of a deal worked out through the province’s $2-billion “carbon capture” program. Actual Alberta carbon capture boondoggles may not operate exactly as described. Below: A Lethbridge student continues studying as hydraulic fracking operations take place next to her school; why is this doctor smiling? Hint: He runs a Family Care Clinic.

Soon it’ll be 2014 and the mainstream media can get back to doing what it does best: panicking (Read more…) - Alberta politics: Alberta politics 2013: Redford abandons her progressive coalition

Tweet“Not your father’s PC Party” was a key message the Progressive Conservatives directed at urban liberal and progressive voters in the 2012 election. The message was received and helped drive many non-traditional PC voters into becoming part the new electoral coalition that re-elected Ms. Redford’s party, and, in turn, blocked the more conservative Wildrose from […] - Alberta politics: Alberta politics 2013: Redford abandons her progressive coalition

Tweet“Not your father’s PC Party” was a key message the Progressive Conservatives directed at urban liberal and progressive voters in the 2012 election. The message was received and helped drive many non-traditional PC voters into becoming part the new electoral coalition that re-elected Ms. Redford’s party, and, in turn, blocked the more conservative Wildrose from […]

Alberta Diary: An open letter to Dave Hancock, Deputy Premier: Why you should quit … Now … Really!

Illegal organizations like this continue to operate in Alberta behind closed doors, despite the fact someone may yell … St**ke! … in violation of the Act to Protect Albertans from Inaccurate and Uninformative Bloggers. Actual members of collective bargaining organizations may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Alberta deputy Premier Dave Hancock, at right, with the author of this well-intentioned letter, also named Dave.

Dave Hancock Deputy Premier of Alberta Minister of Human Services Government House Leader MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud yadda-yadda

Dear Dave,

I’m writing you today because I think you should resign.

Certainly you should quit Premier Alison Redford’s (Read more…)