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Alberta Diary: Alberta may be under ‘new management,’ but we’re getting the same old bait ’n’ switch tactics in health care!

Premier Jim Prentice and Health Minister Stephen Mandel, both PC candidates in the Oct. 27 four-seat mini-election, at yesterday’s “Bed Blocker” news conference in Edmonton. Below: NDP candidate Dr. Bob Turner and Liberal Candidate Dr. Donna Wilson, RN, both running against Mr. Mandel, ex-mayor; Seniors Minister Jeff Johnson; and AHS CEO Vickie Kaminski.

Unelected Premier Jim Prentice and his appointed Health Minister Stephen Mandel held a news conference in Edmonton yesterday afternoon to demonstrate they’re doing something decisive about Alberta’s embarrassing “bed blocker” problem and, no doubt, aid both their by-election campaigns on Oct. 27.

“Bed blocker” is an uncomplimentary (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Plot summary for a zombie policy apocalypse: Return of the Living Bed Blockers, Nightmare on Alberta Avenue, Part IV

Even though we know the prescription for curing the “bed blocker” problem, it’s unlikely Alberta can escape the revenge of the conservative zombie policy makers, shown above. Actual Progressive Conservative and Wildrose policy makers may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Zombie policy enablers Jim Prentice and Danielle Smith; ER physician Dr. Paul Parks.

The “Bed Blockers” are back. Health Minister Stephen Mandel (unelected) used the term, so it’s official.

Actually, it’s a lot like a horror movie that never ends out here in Alberta. Just when you think it’s safe to settle down on Elm Street and get the (Read more…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Sources: MLA David Xiao disqualified from federal Conservative nomination

TweetA Progressive Conservative MLA is appealing a decision by a Conservative Party of Canada committee to disqualify him as a nomination candidate in the newly created Edmonton-West federal riding, according to reliable sources. It remains unclear why the committee chose to disqualify Edmonton-McClung MLA David Xiao, who announced his entry into the contest in March 2014. If Mr. Xiao’s […]

Alberta Diary: Welcome to Alberta, where, baby, these are the days of miracles and wonders…

Conservative political leaders distribute loaves and fishes, part of the school lunch program planned for the hundreds of new schools that will be popping up overnight out here in Alberta. Actual Alberta politicians may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: The real Premier Jim Prentice, Opposition Leader Danielle Smith and Education Minister Gordon Dirks, all of whom we can have faith will deliver.

It is no longer a metaphor when we say Alberta’s conservative politicians are performing miracles and wonders.

Leastways, yesterday, Premier Jim Prentice announced his intention to perform an actual, literal miracle – to create 230 new (Read more…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: The magic of Tory reinvention. A new era for Alberta.

TweetAs the Progressive Conservatives brandish their new slogan, “A new era for Alberta,” many Albertans might be confused about which political party has been in power for the past 43 years. The Oxford English Dictionary defines an era as “a long and distinct period of history.” If we were to apply the geological time scale of the Earth […]

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…)

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: 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: 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: Prentice term-limit idea is gimmicky and probably unconstitutional

TweetYou are Jim Prentice. You have the podium and the attention of Alberta’s media. You are the next Premier of Alberta. You can dream big. You could promise to replace all of Alberta’s aging hospitals by 2020, to build a high-speed railway from Calgary to Edmonton, to forge a new relationship with municipalities through Big City Charters, or reinvent the […]

Alberta Diary: A picture of Tories gone gray: How much will Albertans spend on oil portraits of Alison Redford and Dave Hancock?

Premier pro tempore Dave Hancock’s official portrait imagined. Actual Legislative Building paintings may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Ed Stelmach as seen by Tunde Vari; Ralph Klein by Xin Yu Zheng; your blogger by Ryn Climenhaga.

“I love scandals about other people, but scandals about myself don’t interest me. They have not got the charm of novelty.” — Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

Unlike our neighbours in British Columbia, where since Oscar Wilde was alive a modest photograph has been sufficient to honour each of the province’s 35 premiers, Alberta’s premiers are memorialized with (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Alison’s Albertan airplanes and architecture: Who knew? No one, it turns out!

A search for a member of Alison Redford’s cabinet or caucus who knew what was going on in the premier’s office might look something like this. Nothing like this is necessary in Alberta, though, because no one knew anything. It’s hardly necessary to say that real Alberta Tories may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below, left to right: Dave Hancock, Doug Horner, Thomas Lukaszuk back in the day when they were ministers in premier Alison Redford’s cabinet; Mark Twain.

“When in doubt tell the truth,” Mark Twain famously advised. “It will confound your enemies and astound your friends.”

No (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Never mind Alison Redford: Finance Minister Doug Horner, unfortunately, needs to resign

Ed Stelmach, Alison Redford and Doug Horner together on the stage on the night of Ms. Redford’s election as PC Party leader in October 2011. Below: Mr. Horner, Ms. Redford and Mr. Stelmach.

If the Parliamentary convention called ministerial responsibility still has meaning in Alberta or Canada, Finance Minister Doug Horner must resign.

Everyone in political Alberta has been focusing on another question: what should happen to former premier Alison Redford in the wake of the many recent revelations about her controversial conduct in office?

This serves a political purpose for those with a partisan axe to grind, but as (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…)

Alberta Diary: Tories shut down any possibility leadership candidate Thomas Lukaszuk will get to shine

Thomas Lukaszuk is an entertaining speaker with a full range of facial expressions. His party is going to make darned sure he doesn’t have a chance to use those talents in the service of his leadership bid. Below: PC leadership frontrunner Jim Prentice and candidate Ric McIver.

While Thomas Lukaszuk’s chances of succeeding in the race to become leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party always seemed like a long shot, one has to feel a certain sympathy with the Edmonton MLA’s protest his party won’t permit a real unscripted debate to take place among the three candidates for the (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Could Ric McIver still win the Alberta Tory leadership race? Actually, yes, he could!

Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets. All the money’s on Jim Prentice – but is it the smart money? Below: Ric McIver, Jim Prentice, Jim Dinning and Gary Mar.

CALGARY

Could Ric McIver actually win the Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership race?

Or, to put that another way, could Jim Prentice lose?

Maybe that seems like a theme for a political science fiction story to you. After all, Mr. Prentice – the former banker, corporate lobbyist and federal cabinet minister – is the choice of the PC establishment.

What’s more, he’s now backed by 49 of 59 PC Members of the (Read more…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Alberta’s billion dollar failed Carbon Capture “science experiment”

TweetA report from Auditor General Merwan Saher released this week found no evidence that the Department of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development has properly monitored the performance of the PC Government’s climate change strategy which was first implemented in 2008. The report also uncovered serious problems with the province’s expensive Carbon Capture and Storage strategy. Since it […]

Alberta Diary: A question for Premier Dave Hancock: Who will rid Alberta’s Tories of their turbulent Education Minister?

Education Minister Jeff Johnson flips burgers at Alison Redford’s K-Days Breakfast, last year. A sign of things to come for Mr. Johnson? Below: Premier Dave Hancock, who knows what he needs to do, former premier Redford, who knew exactly what she wanted, and Alberta Information Commissioner Jill Clayton, who knows the law.

Now that we know Education Minister Jeff Johnson or someone in his office broke Alberta’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to send an email to more than 34,000 teachers back in 2013, is it time for Dave Hancock to start acting like he really is (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Alberta’s Tories appear to have waded into the shallow end of the political gene pool

Jim Prentice surrounded by supporters in Edmonton. Below: Defiant Education Minister Jeff Johnson, Premier Dave Hancock, political strategist Stephen Carter.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…

Never mind the bit about any second coming being at hand. You can go too far, in my estimation, searching modern poets for political metaphor. Anyway, that was what Alison Redford was supposed to be, wasn’t it? Or was that Ed Stelmach?

Just the same, I do have a revelation for you: the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party, the mighty dynasty created 43 years ago by the (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Front-running PC leadership candidate Jim Prentice may have just set benchmark for party vote in September

Tory candidate Jim Prentice greets supporters at the opening of his Edmonton campaign headquarters Tuesday evening, showing the first signs of development of the hard-to-avoid campaign paunch. Below: Prover Tory vote-getter Ed Stelmach; Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre MLA Joe Anglin.

Looking tired and uncharacteristically slightly rumpled, Progressive Conservative leadership front-runner Jim Prentice pleaded with supporters at his new Edmonton campaign headquarters Tuesday evening to help him sell 100,000 Tory Party memberships by September.

“We need you to take a membership book and sell it over the summer,” Mr. Prentice told the crowd – which was substantial, but not exactly a multitude (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Opposition attack on Tory leadership frontrunner Jim Prentice a measure of how deeply Alison Redford wounded her party

“Diamond Jim” Prentice, at right, in a strategy session with Alberta Premier Dave Hancock, as described by the provincial NDP and seen by the Wildrose Party. Below: the real Mr. Prentice and former premier Alison Redford.

If you’re looking for a yardstick with which to measure the truly spectacular failure of the short, unhappy reign of Alison Redford over Alberta, just consider the last few days as experienced by Jim Prentice.

Mr. Prentice, of course, is the front-runner in the race to become Ms. Redford’s permanent replacement at the helm of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative dynasty, which has ruled Alberta (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Ric McIver needs to explain his longstanding connections to the ‘Progressive Group for Independent Business’ and its beliefs

Found on the Internet, apropos of nothing in particular, Ric McIver and friend. Below: Craig B. Chandler of the Progressive Group for Independent Business.

Up to now, Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Ric McIver has quite successfully flown under the radar about his ideological beliefs.

Indeed, very little has been written about what makes Mr. McIver tick – and almost nothing at all about what he believes, and therefore what he would do in office.

His official biography is uninformative, as is his Wikipedia entry. Neither provides any hint about his economic or philosophical views beyond his party affiliation – and (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Edmonton New Democrat David Eggen is first to join Alberta’s only interesting political leadership race

David Eggen at the Legislature, hanging around with your blogger. Below: the Alberta NDP Legislative caucus, from left to right, Deron Bilous, Brian Mason, David Eggen and Rachel Notley.

The latest Alberta political leadership candidate says his name means “the sharp end of the axe” in Norwegian, which would sound more sinister in this neoliberal era of needless and harmful austerity if we were taking about the boring and predictable race to lead the governing Progressive Conservatives.

Thankfully, we’re not. David Eggen, 51, the tireless New Democrat MLA for Edmonton-Calder, is the first candidate to declare officially he’s running for (Read more…)