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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: Wild Rose Country no more? What are we gonna call this place if the Alberta Party starts soaring in the polls?

Alberta Minister of Licence Plates Doug Griffiths poses with some of the versions of Alberta’s plates considered by provincial officials before they settled on the three finalists unveiled yesterday. Below: Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Mike Allen, centre, examines a licence-plate-making facility on a recent government trip to Minnesota. Below that: The real Doug Griffiths and his sidekick Jonathan “Dep’uty Jono” Denis, the chief lawman of the territory.

So here’s my question: If it were the Alberta Party instead of the Wildrose Party breathing down the necks of Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives, would they change the name of the province?

Yesterday, elected (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Alberta Tory MLA arrested in U.S. prostitution sting? Not a problem, apparently…

Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo Tory MLA Mike Allen: Excited to be back in the Tory caucus. (Dave Cournoyer photo, used with permission.)

Say what you like about the many flaws of former Alberta premier Alison Redford, she never would have let Mike Allen back into the Progressive Conservative caucus, not as long as the Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo Tory MLA lived, breathed and managed to get reelected.

It was on July 16 last year when the once and future professional jazz musician was in St. Paul, Minn., as a representative of the Government of Alberta when he was caught by (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Wildrose ‘fires’ MLA Joe Anglin, who continues to sit as Wildrose MLA … for now

A scene at the Wildrose Party nomination vote in Rimbey Saturday night. Actual Wildrose Party members may not have appeared exactly as illustrated. Below: Wildrose, sort of, MLA Joe Anglin and his leader, for now, Danielle Smith.

The Wildrose Party has fired rabble-rousing MLA Joe Anglin.

That’s how Mr. Anglin said he’d view it, anyway, if the party’s local members nominated another candidate in his rural Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre riding.

Well, nominate another candidate was exactly what they did Saturday night by choosing constituency association president Jason Nixon as their standard-bearer in the next general election by a substantial margin.

(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: Controversial Central Alberta MLA Joe Anglin faces a serious challenge within his own Wildrose Party ranks

A snapshot of Rimbey, Alberta, taken not so long ago. Below: Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre MLA Joe Anglin, Rimbey-area dairy farmer Peter Pieter Broere, who tried to challenge Mr. Anglin for the Wildrose nomination, and challenger Jason Nixon.

After a single term in office, controversial Wildrose MLA Joe Anglin is facing a serious nomination challenge – by a former political ally who until days ago was president of his own Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre constituency association.

Mr. Anglin has appealed to the party to disallow the candidacy of Jason Nixon, an accountant in the west-central Alberta riding, claiming he was still the (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: Wildrose Party remains far in the lead despite entry of Jim Prentice to Progressive Conservative leadership race, new poll says

The Wildrose Party with Danielle Smith holding the reins appears to continue to lead the Alberta Progressive Conservatives handily. Actual Alberta politicians and astonished onlookers may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: PC leadership candidates Jim Prentice, Thomas Lukaszuk and Ric McIver, none of whom seems to be making much difference to their foundering party’s fortunes, and the real Ms. Smith.

The latest version of a regular Alberta poll, which was conducted in late May, shows the Wildrose Party far in the lead with 41 per cent of committed voters.

Significantly, the arrival in the Progressive Conservative leadership race of (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: A blast from the past: Oh, those Tories and their stories!

A postal worker searches for David Climenhaga’s lost letter from the minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Ray Speaker. Nope. That’s not it … Nothing’s turned up just yet. Below: Mr. Speaker and NDP MLA Ed Ewasiuk.

On May 7, 1991, Ray Speaker, the minister of municipal affairs in the Progressive Conservative government of Alberta, rose in the provincial Legislature in response to a member’s question about a story that had appeared the morning before in the Calgary Herald.

The question was asked by Ed Ewasiuk, the New Democrat MLA for Edmonton-Beverly, who was well known as an aggressive advocate (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Airdrie MLA Rob Anderson suffers torments as Allan Hunsperger and the Lake of Fire return to haunt the Wildrose Party

Wildrose strategists illustrate the party’s recent strategy on the Lake of Fire issue. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be working … again. The Wildrose Party’s actual senior strategists may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Pastor Allan Hunsperger, Airdrie MLA Rob Anderson, and the Airdrie Tower, thought to be the tallest structure between Calgary and Crossfield.

There is nothing the brains behind the Wildrose Party would like to do more than put the whole Lake of Fire fiasco that torpedoed their election chances in 2012 so far behind them it’s in another country, out of sight and out of mind.

(Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Post-fight analysis: Round 1 to Jim Prentice as Wildrose comes out swinging over debt remark

Jim Prentice and Wildrose champion Rob Anderson square off in Round 1, as members of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce look on. Actual scenes from Alberta political discourse may not appear exactly as illustrated. Judge Dave gives Round 1 to Mr. Prentice. Below: The real Mr. Prentice and the real Mr. Anderson.

Well, it’s hard to know for sure, but I’d say the first open policy scrap between Jim Prentice, Progressive Conservative Premier Apparent of Alberta, and the Wildrose Opposition yesterday morning went to Mr. Prentice.

Leastways, by most accounts Mr. Prentice managed to sound like a grownup when he (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Thomas Lukaszuk throws his hat in the ring – although which ring is open to debate

Self-described anti-establishment Alberta PC leadership candidate Thomas Lukaszuk in a jaunty self-mocking portrait with your blogger. Below: Tory heir apparent Jim Prentice in another weirdly Joe-Clark-like pose found on the Internet; candidate Ric McIver.

Thomas Lukaszuk visited Premier pro tempore Dave Hancock yesterday morning to resign as Alberta’s labour minister and became a candidate for a portfolio in Premier Designate Jim Prentice’s cabinet.

OK, that’s kind of a mean way to describe what is officially a run for the leadership of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party in which Mr. Lukaszuk could theoretically knock off Mr. Prentice or the only other (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Cone of Silence descends over deeds of Tory leadership candidate Jim Prentice’s secret agents, real or imagined

An unidentified person, left, said to be close to undeclared Tory leadership candidate Jim Prentice, waits for the Cone of Silence to descend over his discussions with a member of Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith’s inner circle, also unidentified, at right. Actual unidentified anonymous political agents may or may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: a journalist interviews Tory leadership frontrunner Jim Prentice, at left, who is expected to reveal to Albertans what he actually looks like soon, maybe today.

Like those Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki men from Russia allegedly crawling all over Ukraine and stirring up nothing but trouble, secret agents (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Missing: Any discussion of what drove the Hancock Government’s Bill 10 attack on legally enforceable contracts

A system of contracts that can be enforced and adjudicated by an independent and disinterested court like this one is one of the key features of civilized society. This is a picture of the court used by a significant number Canadian law firms to illustrate their web pages. Actually, it’s the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Manhattan. But, unlike all those coruscating Canadian legalists, I took this picture myself. Below: Premier pro tem Dave Hancock talking to the media about an entirely different controversial issue; historian Alvin Finkel.

Amid all the brouhaha in recent weeks over (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Miraculously, no one trampled as Tories race for Alberta Legislature’s exits

Alison Redford crashes through the Alberta Legislature. Below: Frightened and relieved, Alberta Progressive Conservative MLAs race from the vicinity of the Legislative Building in Edmonton yesterday; Nostradamus; Moses. Actual Alberta politicians and legislative architectural renderings may not appear exactly as illustrated.

It must have seemed a little like the panic scene in post-war Japanese monster movie at the Alberta Legislature yesterday. Only in this flick, the shadow cast by Godzilla looked suspiciously like that of Alison Redford.

Fortunately, no one seems to have been seriously injured in the rush for the exits.

After two years with Ms. Redford at the (Read more…)

Scott's DiaTribes: How not to start an election campaign

Tim Hudak hasn’t exactly started off the unofficial Ontario election campaign in a blaze of glory. His opening day campaign stop yesterday to talk about his “million jobs” pledge stumbled when the recording studio owner (formerly of Triumph) noted he voted against The Music Fund in the 2013 Budget.

Okay, so that was a stumble… but to repeat it a day later? That’s almost hilarious:

For the second day Tory Leader Tim Hudak had to defend his position on so-called corporate welfare. On Tuesda‎y, Hudak chose to make his standard jobs pitch, including his opposition to government bailouts, at Automatic (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Doublethink, Alberta Tory style … Sorry, really, but who’s this Alison Redford person?

Former Alberta premier Alison Redford, left, confronts a frightened Premier pro tempore Dave Hancock. Below: A frame from the lost video clip of Ms. Redford’s part in the video tribute to Alberta’s past Tory premiers. Actual Alberta politicians may not appear exactly as illustrated.

MONTREAL

Official Alberta Progressive Conservative Party Position No. 1: Alison Redford is the sole cause of all the PC Party’s problems. Now that she’s gone, everything in Alberta is hunky-dory again.

Wait!

Official Alberta Progressive Conservative Party Position No. 2: Alison Redford was never premier of Alberta. It was a hallucination or something. An undigested bit (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: PS, Tories love you! Is Alison Redford leading predators away from her party? Or what?

The now-famous cell-phone camera shot of Ms. Redford dining with her daughter at Lulu California Bistro in Palm Springs, grabbed from the Internet.

VICTORIA, B.C.

Truth be told, former premier Alison Redford is not the first Alberta cabinet member to just say to hell with it and take a few days off in a sunny spot after a major political setback.

It’s a mild irony that the last one I’m aware of who did the same thing had just been kicked out of cabinet by Ms. Redford.

Now, the former cabinet minister in question was presumably fortunate in landing (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Thanks to Tom Lukaszuk’s memo, Albertans know it wasn’t just Alison Redford with the entitlement problem

Members of the Alberta government’s Public Affairs Bureau spin a good yarn in response to freedom of information requests filed ages ago by Alberta journalists, opposition politicians and other busybodies. Actual government propaganda officials may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Labour Minister Thomas Lukaszuk, Information Commissioner Jill Clayton and Finance Minister Doug Horner.

VICTORIA, B.C.

Albertans owe Thomas Lukaszuk a small gesture of thanks for illustrating it’s not just Alison Redford who had the problem with entitlement.

Surely it’s a sense of entitlement that drives the attitude, all too typical among members of Alberta’s still-ruling Progressive Conservative elite, (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Waiting in ambush for PC leadership candidate Ken Hughes: the ghosts of health care disasters past and present

Back in the day when Alberta Health Services was still full of promise, AHS board chair Ken Hughes, above left, got his instructions from health minister Ron Liepert, right. Mr. Hughes is now a candidate for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party and Mr. Liepert is a candidate for Parliament. So far, though, Mr. Hughes is the only candidate for the leadership! Actual Alberta politicians may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: the real Mr. Hughes and Shiraz Shariff, the last Alberta politician to beat Mr. Hughes in a fair fight.

VICTORIA, B.C.

Unless some brave outsider (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: In one day, the ground shifts in Alberta politics in ways unexpected, sometimes uplifting, sometimes troubling

On March 23, Lewis Cardinal became the first nominated federal NDP candidate in Canada for the expected 2015 election. (Photo by Dave Cournoyer, used with permission.) Yesterday he stepped aside in the face of undisclosed health problems. Below: Wildrose Finance Critic Rob Anderson.

What a strange day it was yesterday, at times uplifting, at times profoundly depressing, and at times just disorienting.

In the morning, Alberta suddenly dropped most aspects of its official homophobia. This less formal kind will continue to longer for a spell, of course, but as an issue for most Albertans it’s done like the family’s (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Wildrose tells Craig Chandler to get lost; Tories might be smart to do the same

Craig B. Chandler in a portrait snatched from his Facebook Page. Below: Wildrose Opposition Leader Danielle Smith’s brisk communication to Mr. Chandler.

GRANDE PRAIRIE

If Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party leaders were smart, they’d quickly find a way to send the same message to Craig B. Chandler he just got from Opposition Leader Danielle Smith.

On April 10, Ms. Smith, concerned Mr. Chandler was suggesting he was just the guy to bridge the gap between her Wildrose Party and the foundering Tories, Tweeted to him: “Your views & how you express them are wrong for Wildrose and Alberta. I would never (Read more…)

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: The ‘Self Preservation Society’ wants Jim Prentice for ‘The Alberta Job’ – but can he forgo his ambition to be PM?

“The Alberta Job.” Will the original “Self Preservation Society” get to keep the Tory gold? Is Jim Prentice – above, not exactly as illustrated – the man to help them do it? Read on to find out why we’ll probably never find out. Below: The actual Jim Prentice. Below him: Possible, rumoured, putative PC leadership candidate Stephen Mandel.

The question Jim Prentice really needs to ask himself is this: “Do I really want to ride that bus all the way to the bottom of the cliff and be sitting in it when it bursts into flames?”

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…)