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In This Corner: Stuff Happens, week 28: Your bribe is in the mail; Republicans are Trumped

So, have you received your bribe yet? Stephen Harper’s utterly shameless federal Conservatives are in the process of giving away $3 billion in tax dollars to “hard working Canadian families” (is there any other kind of Canadian family?) in the form of monthly cheques for families with kids. The benefit cheques are larger than usual due to changes the Conservatives introduced last fall – $160 a month for children under 6, up from $100, and a new payment of $60 a month for seven- to 17-year-olds, regardless of family income. The cheques, going to roughly 3.8 million families, (Read more…)

In This Corner: Stuff Happens, week 27: ‘Ice’ to see you; El Chapo el escapos; oil spill oops.

The big non-news in Edmonton this week was the announcement that the area surrounding the new arena, previously known by the rather prosaic ‘arena district’, has been renamed Ice District. (Apparently, it is just ‘Ice District’, not ‘The Ice District’, according to the pretentious PR hacks behind this rebranding.) The Ice District (sorry) name was dreamed up by none other than Daryl Katz, the Oilers owner and arena co-owner. The grand plans for (cough, cough) Ice District include high rises with 1,000 units, 1.3 million sq. ft. of office space, a luxury hotel, restaurants, theatres, etc. Katz and (Read more…)

In This Corner: Stuff Happens, week 25: The great $15 debate; more McMania; new low for Tories

“The folks over there think it’s totally appropriate for a single mother of two or three to have to work 70 hours a week in order to earn a living wage. I say to you that they’re just wrong, and that’s why we are changing the minimum wage in Alberta.” That’s Rachel Notley indulging in a flight of hyperbole in the Legislature last week, defending her government’s decision to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2017. This, in a nutshell, is the NDP’s rationale for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Because of all those thousands (Read more…)

In This Corner: Stuff Happens, week 24: McMania; a flag flap; PACing it in

Connor McDavid, wearing the surprisingly bold Edmonton Oiler travelling suit.

OMG! OMG! OMG! Connor McDavid is an Oiler! Connor McDavid is an Oiler! Connor McDavid is an Oiler!

Sigh. Poor Connor. The hopes of an entire city are apparently resting on his muscled shoulders.

This city’s infatuation with the Edmonton Oilers reached a crescendo not seen since the Oilers last made the Stanley Cup finals a decade ago when the team drafted Connor McDavid — a “generational player”, so the experts say — at the NHL entry draft. “He’s Ours”, the Edmonton Journal gushed. Thousands paid to watch the draft (Read more…)

In This Corner: Stuff happens, week 19: Debbie does disgrace; gold for Canada; Edmonton icon passes

For the third week in a row, Deborah Drever reigned as Alberta’s most talked-about NDP MLA. Or, more to the point, Alberta’s most talked-about former NDP MLA.

The last straw.

Drever finally shamed Rachel Notley to the point that she was kicked out of caucus, setting a possible world record for shortest and worst political career. After a couple of weeks of embarrassing photos (she was just a young person! defenders cried), an Instagram graphic she posted picturing Jim Prentice and Ric McIver as gay was finally too much for the politically correct NDP. Calling it “homophobic” (actually, the (Read more…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: The future of Rexall Place without the Edmonton Oilers

TweetIn the great rush to relocate the Edmonton Oilers to Daryl Katz‘s new downtown arena district, there appears to have been little serious thought or planning focused on what to do with the professional hockey team’s long-time current home, Rexall Place. Located north east of downtown on the Northlands Exposition Grounds, Rexall Place is an aging facility and, unlike the […]

Alberta Diary: Hockey millionaires and pharmacare tell you everything you need to know about who the Canadian Taxpayers Federation really works for

The Montreal Canadiens in 1912-13. Now the highest-taxed hockey players on the continent, they’re still the best and likely to stay that way. Below: Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions President Linda Silas; U.S. anti-public-health-care fruitloop and Canadian Taxpayers Federation ally Grover Norquist.

For a while now it’s seemed as if the so-called Canadian Taxpayers Federation has been adopting the modus operandi of the Fraser Institute – cherry-picked data, conclusions contrary to the evidence presented and dubious claims stated as facts in a frenetic stream of press releases.

Well, you can hardly blame them. The media treats each of the (Read more…)

In This Corner: ‘The Magnificient New Coliseum’ turns 40, and I was there.

I don’t know about you, but I know exactly what I was doing on the evening of Nov. 10th, 1974, exactly 40 years ago Monday.

My ‘I was there’ certificate to the first Oiler game at Northlands Coliseum.

I was at a hockey game. Not just any hockey game, mind you, but the very first hockey game ever played in the Edmonton Coliseum, or — to use the exact description used on the Edmonton Oilers Award Certificate that I have saved to this day — the “Magnificent New Coliseum”. Those of you who remember ‘Wild’ Bill Hunter, the man who (Read more…)

In This Corner: The Sun will never darken my door again.

A few weeks ago, a nice young man came to my door, offering a three-month subscription to the Edmonton Sun for $30. I know the Sun essentially sucks, but I figured, hey, $30 for three months of a newspaper. What’s the harm?

After about a week, I contemplated cancelling my subscription and getting a refund. After three months of having this daily right-wing screed darkening my door, I can tell you without contradiction that I will never, ever spend so much as a dime on the Edmonton Sun again. And this comes from a lifelong newspaper reader, someone who loves (Read more…)

In This Corner: Someone save me from another NHL season.

So here I am, basking in the late September sunshine, relishing a 27C day. That can only mean one thing — it’s hockey season!

Oh God, no! Didn’t it just finish last month? Or does it only seem like it?

I’ve actually grown to kind of hate the National Hockey League. I hate the grossly inflated size of the league. I hate the way the league has attempted to graft hockey onto any geographical area and arena that will have it. I hate its random, nonsensical approach to discipline for violent acts. I hate the fact the hockey season is (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Conservative former Edmonton mayor endorses conservative future Alberta premier: Yawn

Former Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel and PC leadership candidate Jim Prentice, obviously pleased to be in one another’s company, at a news conference yesterday in Edmonton at which Mr. Mandel endorsed Mr. Prentice. Below: The other Tory leadership candidates, Ric McIver and Thomas Lukaszuk, and New Democrat MLA Rachel Notley, who is expected to declare her candidacy to lead the Alberta NDP soon.

If there was any real news from yesterday’s news conference atop the Chateau Lacombe Hotel in downtown Edmonton, at which Progressive Conservative former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel endorsed Progressive Conservative future Alberta premier Jim Prentice, it was (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: A tsunami of Tory troubles? Naw, the Alberta universe is unfolding as it should…

All we want are the facts, Ma’am. A couple of investigators hired by Alberta Chief Electoral Officer O. (for Olaf) Brian Fjeldheim prepare to go through the files of friends, relatives and employees of billionaire Daryl Katz who may or may not have donated money to the Redford Tories. Actual Alberta detectives may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Mr. Fjeldheim and Alberta Ethics Commissioner Neil Wilkinson.

Alberta media are portraying the return to the news this week of three pre-Christmas political scandals as a tsunami of trouble for the governing Tories of Premier Alison Redford.

In fact, serial news

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Alberta Diary: Eureka! Labour relations in Alberta explained by, of all things, NHL hockey!

An Alberta Labour Relations Board official suddenly realizes how the world works, and immediately rules in favour of the employer. Application of the law in Alberta may be pretty much exactly as illustrated.

All but forgotten amidst the rejoicing about the tentative end of the National Hockey League lockout reached during the Feast of the Epiphany on Sunday was the truly remarkable epiphany that occurred to the Alberta Labour Relations Board at the beginning of this unusual hockey season.

This is a pity, because while the behaviour of the ALRB is well known and understood to we few who toil

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Eureka! Labour relations in Alberta explained by, of all things, NHL hockey!

Alberta Diary: With the NHL back on the ice, why not let Chinese taxpayers subsidize Canada’s billionaires?

The Great Leap Forum: what Edmonton’s luxurious new ice hockey palace could look like with a little gesture of internationist solidarity from Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Communist Chinese friends. Conceptual art by Dave Cournoyer used with permission.

It’s a moment of such perfect convergence that it’s astonishing Alberta’s Wildrose Party, which last week proposed paying for professional sports arenas through the risky tactic of encouraging vulnerable citizens to gamble, didn’t think of it.

I speak, of course, not of the imminent return of the National Hockey League but of the strategy used to good effect by the Communist government

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: With the NHL back on the ice, why not let Chinese taxpayers subsidize Canada’s billionaires?

Alberta Diary: Wildrose rink lotto scheme: a new tax on the prodigal and the poor

Imagine the millions we can scoop up from the foolish and the intoxicated! Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith extemporizes on the advantages of using gambling to subsidize billionaires. Below: Drugstore and hockey billionaire Daryl Katz; former Wildrose candidate Pastor Alan Hunsperger.

It was almost a relief yesterday when Danielle Smith, leader of Alberta’s right-wing Wildrose Opposition, announced the scheme her party had come up with to finance the millionaires and billionaires of professional hockey through the use of … wait for it … keno!

Alert readers will recall that the Wildrose Party stands against all tax increases but in favour of

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Wildrose rink lotto scheme: a new tax on the prodigal and the poor

In This Corner: The year in political bloopers.

Ah, politics. It has the potential to inspire, and an even greater potential to inspire derisive laughter or fits of rage. Here, for your reading and enraging enjoyment, are my choices for the top 10 political blunders of 2012, local edition.

1. Allan Hunsperger and the ‘lake of fire’

In the April provincial election, the upstart (they were always called ‘upstart’) Wildrose party appeared to be on the verge of doing the impossible — toppling the PC dynasty. The public seemed ready to put aside its concerns about the far-right bent of the party to finally turf the exhausted 41-year

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Alberta Diary: Fair or not, Opposition targets Katz donation(s) as symbol of Tory sleaze

Caesar repudiates Pompeia: “You’re outta here!” Below: Danielle Smith and Alison Redford.

The Wildrose Party strategy for defeating the Progressive Conservative government of Premier Alison Redford when the next election rolls around in 2016 is a variation of the right-wing party’s plan when it came close to winning earlier this year: paint the PCs as corrupt and themselves as the only viable uncorrupted alternative.

As a result, we can expect to see a lot more implications and inferences in the Legislature’s Question Period like the attack Monday by Opposition Leader Danielle Smith on Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz’s ability

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Fair or not, Opposition targets Katz donation(s) as symbol of Tory sleaze

calgaryliberal.com: The Katz Katastrophe

The bending of election rules by the provincial Conservatives isn’t new. It’s a regular affair by now. Kevin Taft’s lawsuit against Elections Alberta, the ongoing debacle of large union and corporate donations, and the disproportionate sway that the oil patch has on Albertan democracy, are not new. Daryl Katz is just one more tick on [...]

Alberta Diary: Welcome to Alberta’s Wild West, where the market sets the value of your vote

Drug store billionaire Daryl Katz, right, discusses his plans for a new Edmonton hockey arena with a representative of the Alberta government. Since Wild West hockey barons may not appear exactly as illustrated, a photo of the real Mr. Katz is shown below. (CBC Photo, circa 2008.)

Look, people, this here is the Wild West. If a billionaire wants to buy an election, why the heck shouldn’t he? Isn’t that what the Alberta Advantage is supposed to be all about?

Seriously, folks, that’s just the way we do things out here in Wild Rose Country, and if you don’t

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Welcome to Alberta’s Wild West, where the market sets the value of your vote

In This Corner: Could it be that Katz sank arena deal because he wants to unload the Oilers?

So the arena deal is dead, at least in its present form.

Good riddance to bad rubbish. Daryl Katz has shown that he is not a man the city should be in business with, so let’s wash our hands of this whole sordid mess and consider ourselves lucky.

So what went wrong here?

Well, I believe that Katz deliberately scuttled this deal. How else can you explain it?

He had a sweetheart deal so sugary, it could give accountant diabetes. He got a building and all the revenue from it for about $100 million or so. It was a wonderful

. . . → Read More: In This Corner: Could it be that Katz sank arena deal because he wants to unload the Oilers?

Alberta Diary: NHL and NHLPA in labour relations face off: no penalties for Alberta employers caught offside

Members of the NHLPA wait around for their Sui Generis Alberta employers to obey the law. Alberta hockey players may not appear exactly as illustrated – for one thing, they wouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the stove.

Since the regular season of the National Hockey League was supposed to start yesterday, but won’t be starting anytime soon, let’s take this opportunity to pay tribute to the remarkable efforts of the Alberta Labour Relations Board.

The vision of the ALRB is “the fair and equitable application of Alberta’s collective bargaining laws,” and don’t feel you have to take my word for

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: NHL and NHLPA in labour relations face off: no penalties for Alberta employers caught offside

In This Corner: Original draft of Katz apology letter revealed.

On Saturday, Daryl Katz paid for full-page ads in the Edmonton newspapers to apologize for his handling of the arena controversy. My sources deep within the Katz Group (a pharmacist I know at a Rexall Drugs) had access to the first draft of the apology letter, written by Katz himself. Boldface portions were removed before the ad went to press, on the advice of his new public relations firm, McMann and Tate. Here it is:

The people of Edmonton, Northern Alberta, half of Red Deer, and Oiler Fans Everywhere, Except The Ones Who Only Watch the Oilers on TV

. . . → Read More: In This Corner: Original draft of Katz apology letter revealed.

In This Corner: Sexy Seattle joins cast of As The Oilers Turn.

Hello, Seattle! On behalf of the citizens of Edmonton, I’d like to welcome you to the cast of As The Oilers Turn, a continuing soap opera that has been a fixture for Edmonton audiences for many, many seasons.

As The Oilers Turn has captivated Edmonton audiences since it was first created by former Edmonton Oilers owner Peter Pocklington. Under Pocklington’s direction, ATOT reached its zenith (pronounced zen-ith here, not zee-nith) when Pocklington brought in the city of Houston to play the role of a vixen, a sexy city that came close to consummating a marriage with the Oilers. Eventually, Houston

. . . → Read More: In This Corner: Sexy Seattle joins cast of As The Oilers Turn.

In This Corner: What does Katz want? Try everything.

Mayor Stephen Mandel professes to be baffled by what Oilers owner Daryl Katz wants in the ongoing agony that is the arena negotiations.

“I can no longer define what Mr. Katz is asking for or what he’s not asking for,” a deeply frustrated mayor said on Tuesday, after Katz gobsmacked city council with a new list of demands, including a $6 million a year subsidy which Katz apparently believes he can get through casino money. (Ignore for a moment that the allocation of casino money is a provincial matter, not a civic matter. Let’s not concern ourselves with legalities here.

. . . → Read More: In This Corner: What does Katz want? Try everything.

In This Corner: Arena over budget. And winter is cold.

The Edmonton arena project is having a hard time reaching its guaranteed cost of $450 million.

Those of you who are surprised by this news, please raise your hand. OK, you, you, and you … I have a Nigerian prince who wants to speak to you. Something about an inheritance.

Yesterday’s news that the arena design is $35 million over budget is one of the least shocking headline in an Edmonton newspaper since “Winter will be cold, forecasters say.”

A city report says that despite cost cutting measures, the future boondoggle is $35 million over budget. For example,

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