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Alberta Diary: Unelected and unknown education minister looms as first major blunder of Jim Prentice’s New Tory Government

Still on track? Jim Prentice’s New Tory Government experiences its first full day of governing. Below: Unelected Education Minister Gordon Dirks.

The appointment of Gordon Dirks as unelected minister of education by Premier Jim Prentice on his first day in office has the potential to become the first serious political blunder of Alberta’s New Tory Government.

Mr. Prentice obviously intended the appointment of Mr. Dirks, a former Saskatchewan cabinet minister and Calgary public school trustee, to be a powerful symbol of dramatic change in the troubled 43-year-old Progressive Conservative dynasty he now leads.

If no one knew much about Mr. (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Why Edmonton Strathcona electors should vote NDP, as (not exactly) explained by Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland

Toronto Spadina MP Chrystia Freeland, a Liberal, after speaking at the University of Alberta Faculty Club last week. Below: Eleanor Olszewski, nominated Liberal candidate in the federal Edmonton Strathcona riding; Linda Duncan, NDP MP for Edmonton Strathcona.

Last Wednesday night, during an engaging talk at the University of Alberta Faculty Club, Chrystia Freeland pretty clearly laid out the arguments for why voters in Edmonton Strathcona should re-elect New Democrat Linda Duncan in the next federal election.

The Toronto MP, who is one of the bright lights of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s caucus, wasn’t aiming to make that point, of course. (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: The #PCldr Files: Who is the best Tory choice for the coming Wildrose Apocalypse?

Your blogger with PC leadership candidate Thomas Lukaszuk. We’re not usually as friendly as this picture makes us look – especially on Twitter. Below: Tory leadership frontrunner Jim Prentice, candidate Ric McIver and the late federal NDP leader Jack Layton.

What Alberta’s foundering Progressive Conservative dynasty needs to do now is pick the leadership candidate most like Jack Layton! Who could that be?

They need to do this because, as Dave Cournoyer, author of the blog, shrewdly suggested the other day, the PC Party could now be choosing the next Opposition leader.

After the catastrophe of Alison (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: Red in Central Canada, blue in Ottawa an immutable rule that favours Harper’s Tories? Don’t bet on it!

Is Justin Trudeau finished because Kathleen Wynne just won in Ontario, like the mainstream media’s pundits are telling you? Don’t be too sure! (Say, as one Twitter commenter asked, who is that old man with Mr. Trudeau?) Below: The same guy with NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. Weird! Below them: Lawrence Martin and Tim Harper.

It’s certainly true that the Ontario Liberals are going to miss Progressive Conservative Party Leader Tim Hudak. He was a gift that kept on giving.

But their federal cousins, and the federal NDP as well, can take comfort. They still have Stephen Harper.

So it’s (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Ontario election: OK, that didn’t really work … can we get back to being New Democrats now?

Ontario’s victorious Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne last summer. Below: Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak.

Well! That didn’t work out quite as well as we’d hoped, did it? Can we get back to being New Democrats now?

I speak, of course, of the results of last night’s Ontario provincial election – in which it seems to me from my vantage point out here on the Great Plains that there are lessons in the vote for New Democrats in the west and the New Democrats in Ottawa too.

I realize that the great Canadian tradition of (Read more…)

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The left-wing conservatives #nlpoli

In 2010,  the provincial Conservatives had a chance to reinvigorate their party in time for the 2011 general election.  They deliberately stuck with an interim leader in order to avoid what they considered a potentially decisive leadership contest.

After the 2011 election, the Conservatives kept Kathy Dunderdale, even though she’s made it clear when Danny Williams quit in 2010 that she was planning to retire and had no further political agenda or objectives of her own.

Kathy Dunderdale finally decided to retire in 2014.  The Conservatives had a second chance to reinvigorate their party.  They chose to pass on the chance, opting for a leader picked by some sort of back-room deal.

(Read more…)

The Ranting Canadian: "You’re either with working women and men or you’re…

“You’re either with working women and men or you’re against them.”

- Peter Kormos (1952-2013)

It has been one year since we lost Peter Kormos, a former Ontario MPP who died too young, at the age of 60. Kormos, who died on on March 30, 2013 of natural causes, wasn’t an ordinary politician. He set the bar high, as a political leader and as a member of his community. The above video is a tribute that was played at his memorial last May. It’s 11 minutes long, but it’s worth watching.

For those who don’t know (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Back to the future? Private-client opinion polls said to show big shift toward Alberta’s Wildrose Party

The future belongs, the future belongs, the future belongs to us… Peter Lougheed preaches to the converted in Calgary not long before the 1971 provincial election. After 42 years and counting, is there really another seismic shift under way in Alberta, or just more blundering by pollsters? Below: Mr. Lougheed not long after the 1971 election; Premier Harry Strom graces a Social Credit election poster from the same election campaign; Premier Alison Redford last year.

Tout le monde political Alberta is abuzz with rumours of new private polls that show a significant shift of voter support away from the Progressive (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Dunderdale’s departure relocates Redford deeper in premiers’ popularity sub-basement

Getting to know you… Getting to know all about you. Not necessarily a good thing with certain dancing partners! There’s just no way actual Canadian premiers, no matter whom they’re dancing with, ever look this good! Below: unpopular dance partners Alison Redford, premier of Alberta, Greg Selinger of Manitoba and all-but-departed Kathy Dunderdale of Newfoundland.

Well, she’s not quite hit Rock bottom.

But thanks to the departure announcement yesterday by the premier of the Rock, Alberta Premier Alison Redford is now in a dead heat to be Canada’s second least popular premier.

With a pallid 31-per-cent approval rating, Ms. Redford (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Rising Tory interest in St. Albert-Edmonton nomination could set the stage for something completely different!

Ryan Hastman’s business card, handed out at last weekend’s Conservative Convention in Calgary. Below: Mr. Hastman, Independent MP Brent Rathgeber, competing Tory candidate Michael Cooper and the other side of Mr. Hastman’s card.

ST. ALBERT, Alberta

There’s a new candidate in the race for the Conservative Party of Canada’s nomination in the St. Albert-Edmonton riding: Ryan Hastman, who carried the Conservative banner in the last federal election in Edmonton-Strathcona.

This isn’t quite official, but it’s official enough, seeing as business cards were being circulated at last weekend’s federal Conservative convention in Calgary saying “Ryan Hastman for St. Albert-Edmonton” on one (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Halloween 2013: a meditation on power

Prime Minister Stephen Harper just one year ago. Actual Canadian prime ministers may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Senator Mike Duffy and former Harper cabinet member Jim Prentice.

Last Halloween, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper went trick ’n’ treating, he was monarch of all he surveyed.

This year, he’s a ghost.

Oh, Mr. Harper is still corporeal enough. He passed through security Wednesday on his way to Calgary, I suppose, although one imagines prime ministers don’t have to take off their shoes and shuffle along in their stockings, or answer to why they failed to stow their toothpaste is (Read more…)

Paul S. Graham: Electioneering in the guise of consultation – it’s tawdry & cynical and has to stop!

I wonder how many Manitobans have received an email from their Manitoba NDP MLA entitled “A Fairer Deal for Renters.” I wonder how many are as pissed off as I am about what it represents.

Hi Paul

You may have seen information in your mailbox recently about Manitoba’s Fairer Deal for Renters.

Most of us have rented at some point in our lives, which is why I’m proud to be part of a government that introduces new protections for tenants rather than cuts.

Changes include investing in repairs and upgrades to social housing and introducing a new housing tax credit (Read more…)

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Opposition Syndrome #nlpoli

Politics is often about compromise.

Compromises are great when they work.

They suck when they don’t.

The provincial New Democrats spent a week in a leadership crisis that climaxed with a two-day caucus retreat complete with a hired, professional meeting facilitator.

The result is the worst possible solution for the New Democrats if they are interested in being a viable competitor in the next provincial general election.

(Read more…)

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Where there’s smoke… #nlpoli

Four members of a political caucus don’t usually demand their leader’s resignation unless they had a reason… or a bunch of reasons that built up over time.

As it turns out, the number of people unhappy with Lorraine Michael’s leadership style is a lot more than a small faction.


The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The New Undemocratic Party #nlpoli

At the end of the first full day of the political crisis inside the New Democratic Party, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador learned more about the party than anyone likely imagined they’d ever know.

Two members of caucus – George Murphy and Gerry Rogers -  showed they are freaks of nature:  they have even less backbone than the average provincial Conservative cabinet minister.  Well, either that or they cannot read plain English. 

That’s about the only choices you have once the pair of them tried to claim the letter they signed to leader Lorraine Michael wasn’t a request for a leadership  review but just a request for a meeting.

The most striking, and in many ways the most startling news, is about Lorraine Michael and the cabal running the provincial NDP.

(Read more…)

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Night of the Pen Knives #nlpoli

Sometimes political party leaders get to chose how they leave the job.

Other times they don’t.

The Liberals punted Leo Barry out of the leadership in 1987.  The entire caucus handed him a letter demanding his resignation after her went off to the States on a trip.  Now the truth be told, the trip wasn’t the cause of the caucus revolt.  The trip just brought everything to a head.

In Lorraine Michael’s case, the New Democratic Party leader came back from a holiday to find an e-mail from her four caucus mates demanding she take a hike in 2014 so that the party can “renew” before the next provincial general election.

(Read more…)

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: A party like the others #nlpoli

Among the oldest of old Canadian political jokes is that you went to the Tory conventions to drink, the Liberal conventions to get laid, and the NDP ones to pick up pamphlets.

Well, as it turns out the NDP have now joined the ranks of the old parties.  The Ottawa Citizen reported last Thursday that the NDP national director and deputy director have written a formal apology to a young staffer after she was – allegedly – on the receiving end of of unwanted attention from a donor at a fundraising event, whom the paper identifies as subjected to Jack Layton’s former communications director.

The Citizen also reported that junior staffers helping to run the were left to fend for themselves after the people in charge left the venue without notice.  The paper describes the unnamed individuals as “sloppy drunk”.

(Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory: lessons from B.C. for NDPers everywhere

Just to set the mood, it’s Left-Leaning B.C. Premiers Day on Alberta Diary. Here’s your blogger with some former NDP premiers from that province – Dave Barrett above, Mike Harcourt and Ujjal Dosanjh below.

No one can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory quite like the New Democrats in my native British Columbia.

Still, while Tuesday’s upset B.C. election victory by Premier Christy Clark and her un-liberal Liberals is inevitably going to be, well, upsetting to a lot of New Democrats, it is not really bad news for Thomas Mulcair and the federal NDP.

This, we (Read more…)

The Ranting Canadian: Peter Kormos memorial on May 11, 2013 in Thorold, Ontario

Peter Kormos memorial on May 11, 2013 in Thorold, Ontario:

Click on the above link for details, and see my last post for more information about his life, which ended far too soon.

If you see grey boxes above, click on one of them to see photos of Peter.

The Ranting Canadian: Last weekend, Canada lost a beloved, well-respected, honest,…

Last weekend, Canada lost a beloved, well-respected, honest, persuasive, gruff-voiced, hard-working, non-conformist, friendly, principled, down-to-earth man of the people who drank and smoked, wore cowboy boots, stood up for the little guy and was re-elected several times.

No, I’m not talking about that asshole Ralph Klein, whose merits and accomplishments are more myth than reality. This is about Peter Kormos, the former Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP) MPP for Welland. The larger-than-life rebel, who was serving as a Niagara Region councillor, died at the age of 60 on March 30, 2013.

Unlike many so-called populist politicians, Peter actually did (Read more…)

The Ranting Canadian: Members of Canada’s centrist New Democratic Party (NDP)…

Members of Canada’s centrist New Democratic Party (NDP) caucus sing the Stompin’ Tom Connors song “Bud the Spud”, which is about a character who — unlike the fraudulent Conservative senator Mike Duffy — lives in Prince Edward Island. The guitarists are Charlie Angus and Andrew Cash, who were professional musicians before being elected to parliament.

In response to the death of Connors, our treasonous and hypocritical Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper — a terrible amateur musician and singer — said: “At this key juncture, I hope [Canadian music fans] can now build for themselves a better, brighter future based on

Alberta Diary: ‘Leading thinkers’ to set Alberta’s new economic course lickety-split – and you’re not invited

Premier Alison Redford eyeballs an uninvited visitor to the province’s economic summit. Without the password, you’re not getting in. Below, Premier Redford and Deputy Premier Tom Lukaszuk present their bona fides at the door. Actual Alberta politicians may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below them: The premier’s communications director, Stefan Baranski.

In just 10 days, “Alberta’s leading thinkers, key industry, non-profit and academic leaders, Members of the Legislative Assembly and passionate citizens will gather together for a spirited discussion on Alberta’s future.” You’re not invited.

The government announced yesterday in a terse yet effusive press release that the economic

. . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: ‘Leading thinkers’ to set Alberta’s new economic course lickety-split – and you’re not invited

The Canadian Progressive: Chief Theresa Spence speaks on Day 21 of hunger strike against Harper Conservatives

For immediate release: December 31, 2012, Victoria Island, traditional territory of the Algonquian Peoples: Today is the twenty first day of Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike and the last day of 2012. Yesterday, Chief Spence met with Senators and Members of Parliament from the New Democratic Party, Liberal Party and Parti Quebecois. Noticeably absent was READ MORE

centerandleft: Endorsement for Joyce Murray

Murray Can Lead Canada Forward | Chris Wattie, Reuters (via National Post)

For almost seven years, Stephen Harper has been the Prime Minister. Canadian progressives unite in their call that “we can do better” and yet, little is done to meet actions with words. In the New Democratic leadership race, I backed Nathan Cullen for his progressive partnership proposal. It was bold, it was controversial, but it represented real leadership. Mr. Cullen challenged New Democratic progressives, presenting them with an opportunity for real, meaningful change. Mr. Cullen inspired many people with his surprising success, but New Democrats decided to meet

. . . → Read More: centerandleft: Endorsement for Joyce Murray