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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…)

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.

LETHBRIDGE

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: Say what? After 36 years, secret Alberta Tory slush fund comes to light

Senior Alberta Progressive Conservative Party officials and guards remove election campaign funds from the vaults of the “Tapcal Trust.” Actual PC party officials may not appear exactly as illustrated: Below: PC Party Executive Director Kelley Charlebois; Public Interest Alberta Executive Director Bill Moore-Kilgannon.

So, there’s this law in Alberta that allows the ruling Progressive Conservative Party to have a possibly huge and definitely secret slush fund, but makes it illegal for any other party to do the same thing.

What’s more, the fund’s been around for at least 36 years and no one’s uttered a squeak of protest, presumably (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: PC finances: looks like Armageddon for Tories and Wildrose Apocalypse for the rest of us

Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith, on horseback, gazes at all that remains of Alberta’s once-mighty Alberta Progressive Conservative dynasty. Actual Alberta politicians may not appear quite so metaphorically. Below: PC Party Executive Director Kelley Charlebois.

We can probably thank former Alberta premier Alison Redford for breaking the spine of the 43-year Progressive Conservative dynasty in this province. For, after not quite two and a half years of her leadership, broken it appears to be.

If you want proof this is so, look no further than the lamentable financial condition in which the party finds itself today.

We already knew (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Good advice for Alberta New Democrats from Quebec: this time, make it easy for voters to support you

Ray Guardia, one of the key architects of the federal NDP’s 2011 breakthrough in Quebec, at yesterday’s closing session of the Broadbent Institute’s 2014 Progress Summit in Ottawa. Below: Environmental activist Tzeporah Berman.

OTTAWA

Here’s a tip for Alberta New Democrats from one of the principal architects of Jack Layton’s historic 2011 Quebec campaign: don’t tell voters they’re stupid because they’ve been voting Tory for 43 years.

Ray Guardia was too diplomatic, of course, to put it quite like that in a panel discussion yesterday on winning progressive campaigns during the final session of the Broadbent Institute’s 2014 Progress Summit (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 Daveberta.ca.

OTTAWA

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: Alison Redford and the misogyny defence: does it really hold any water?

Former Alberta Premier Alison Redford in happier times, as we remember her on the eve of her selection as PC Party leader in the fall of 2011.

The suggestion former Alberta Premier Alison Redford was treated differently, and was presumably fired by her party more peremptorily, because she is a woman is generating considerable heat if not a great deal of light in political circles in Alberta.

This claim first surfaced a few days before Ms. Redford’s political ship sank, at a time when her Progressive Conservative Party was in a state of open rebellion against her leadership. It has (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: A very Albertan coup: Alison Redford fell victim to her own hubris, as well as that of her Progressive Conservative Party

Alison Redford announces her resignation moments after 6 p.m. yesterday while Deputy Premier Dave Hancock looks on grimly in the background. Below: Mr. Hancock, the man thought most likely to become the PC Party’s interim leader and premier, as the crisis played out last week.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford, who resigned moments after 6 p.m. yesterday, fell victim to her own hubris and that of the party she led.

In the next few days and weeks, we are certain to hear two competing narratives emerge to explain what happened to Ms. Redford’s short, unhappy premiership, which began when (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Electoral math is calculus, not arithmetic, so 15 more Tory defectors won’t necessarily bring down Alison Redford’s shaky government

Alberta Premier Alison Redford and her crack team of Tory political strategists consult the Billion Dollar Brainiac, the Alberta government’s carbon- and vote-capture supercomputer, to figure out how many members must remain in her shrinking caucus for the party to survive a non-confidence motion. Actual crack Alberta political strategists may not appear exactly as illustrated. Just ignore the note that says “Bon Voyage.” Below: MLAs Steve Young, Edmonton Riverview, and Matt Jeneroux, Edmonton-South West.

The assumption of just about everyone in the Punditocracy, the Commentariat, the Blogosphere and the Media Bloviarchy here in Alberta is that if Premier (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: If Alison Redford won’t voluntarily step aside, Alberta’s Tories are likely finished

Alberta Premier Cruella de Vil brings some of her rebellious MLAs to heel. Actual Alberta politicians may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: High-profile caucus rebel Donna Kennedy-Glans; Stephen Mandel, former mayor of Edmonton and about the only person who could unseal the Alberta Tories’ doom at this late hour.

The departure yesterday morning of Donna Kennedy-Glans from the Alberta Progressive Conservative caucus makes it pretty obvious the message is sinking in with disaffected PC MLAs that casting Alison Redford as Premier Cruella de Vil and then putting her on double-secret probation may not have been the most astute strategy (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Worst political strategy ever: Alison Redford put on probation by Tory party big shots

Alberta Premier Alison Redford, as her party used to see her. (In the background, an ecstatic Thomas Lukaszuk.) Sad to say, this is another example of actual politicians not appearing exactly as illustrated. Below: Alison Redford, as Cruella de Vil, the way her party sees her now. Below her: Red Deer North MLA Mary Anne Jablonski, grimly emerging from Government House on Friday.

Do the backroom leaders of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party seriously expect the province’s voters to re-elect as premier a leader in whom they obviously have no confidence?

I mean, c’mon people, talk about the lamest (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Payment of $45,000 travel bill by Alberta Premier raises as many questions as it answers

There will be no more scenes like this aboard Government of Alberta aircraft, thank you very much! Actual Alberta cabinet ministers and cabin crew may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: a screenshot of Alberta Premier Alison Redford’s news conference yesterday.

Fresh from her public relations triumph in Edmonton’s Churchill LRT station Tuesday, Alberta Premier Alison Redford announced yesterday she has personally paid back the $45,000 cost of her trip to South Africa in December, and that of the young aide who went along with her.

“My hope is that we can now get back to the work Albertans asked (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: The Ides of March: Alison Redford under ‘friendly fire’ from coup plotters in her own caucus

Premier Alison Redford and an aide, at right, look on as Progressive Conservative caucus coup plotters try to remember if the signal to make their move is “Toga! Toga! Toga!” or “Tory! Tory! Tory!” Actual Alberta politicians may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Rumoured Redford replacements Gary Mar, Stephen Mandel and Jim Dinning.

It’s less than a week until the Ides of March and signs are now plentiful an attempt to topple Alberta Premier Alison Redford is under way.

By all accounts the coup plotters come from within the premier’s own Progressive Conservative Party. They are (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: The End is at Hand! Sure looks that way for Alberta’s PCs, anyway…

Members of the Alberta Tory caucus consider the latest poll results as they prepare for the 2016 provincial election. Actual Alberta Progressive Conservative MLAs may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Dave Hancock … leadership potential at last.

OTTAWA

It’s probably still possible for Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party to crawl back from the abyss – if you believe in miracles – but it’s increasingly hard to believe they can do it with Alison Redford at the helm.

Even viewed from the nation’s exceedingly quiet capital, the numbers in the Leger poll published this morning by the Calgary Herald are not (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Can the Redford Government Survive Until 2016?

It’s unfortunate it’s illegal to say the word “str*ke” in Alberta, or you could write a great caption for this image. To be on the safe side, we’ll just stick to asking: “Can the Redford Government survive until 2016, or whenever the next provincial election is held?” Below: Alberta Premier Alison Redford; Soviet era prognosticator and dissident Andrei Amalrik, who predicted the fate, if not quite the date of the fate, of the Soviet Union. (Bowling image created by Luanne Climenhaga.)

With tip of the ushanka to Andrei Amalrik, we have to ask: Can the Redford Government survive (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 Diary: Time to change Alberta Labour Minister’s dual role, and maybe more, to ensure fair and equitable labour relations

Some roles just don’t seem to be a good match for the same person. Here are five examples. Perhaps Alberta Labour Minister Thomas Lukaszuk, below, finds himself in such a position?

Can Thomas Lukaszuk properly fulfill his dual roles as Alberta’s Minister of Labour and chair of the all-but-secret Public Sector Resource Committee of Premier Alison Redford’s cabinet?

On the face of it, it would seem not – but then, perhaps as Mr. Lukaszuk opined in an ill-tempered exchange on Twitter Saturday, your blogger just doesn’t understand the minister’s roles and responsibilities.

Still, layperson that I am, I really (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Will Alison Redford fire Thomas Lukaszuk? She needs to, but don’t count on it happening!

Alberta Labour Minister Thomas Lukaszuk, at right with Premier Alison Redford, argues with Deputy Premier Dave Hancock, in white suit and goofy glasses, about whether or not to appeal the court injunction against the use of Bill 46. Finance Minister Doug Horner is on the far left. Actual Alberta cabinet ministers may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below right: Mr. Lukaszuk not exactly as he appears. Below left: Mr. Lukaszuk exactly as he appears.

In any normal business, Alberta Labour Minister Thomas Lukaszuk would be finished.

After the pummelling the government of Premier Alison Redford took on Friday from a (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Back to the future with Guy Boutilier: a run to be Fort Mac’s MP looks to be in the cards

Guy Boutilier in his Wildrose caucus office in Edmonton back in 2009. Notice Ralph Klein peering over his shoulder. Below: Other Fort Mac politicians Brian Jean, the Conservative Crossword King, and Mike Allen, a saxophonist, in his St. Paul Police mugshot.

Guy Boots, Member of Parliament?

Why not? When you think about it, Guy Boutilier – nowadays he pronounces Guy in the French way, Ghee, and Boutilier in the English Way, Boot-a-LEER – is one of Alberta’s most successful politicians.

At least, he was until he wasn’t.

But now he’s lookin’ good again, and with a federal by-election likely to (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Pride flags over Alberta: for real, or a cynical commitment of convenience that’s a mile wide and an inch deep?

A rainbow banner flies alongside the city, Alberta and Canadian flags at the city hall of St. Albert, Alberta, last weekend. Below: A really great pride banner spotted during a recent Pride Week in Vancouver.

Fourteen years ago, the Alberta provincial government led by Progressive Conservative premier Ralph Klein was convulsed with controversy at the thought of same-sex marriage.

In the ensuing weeks, Mr. Klein threatened to employ the Notwithstanding Clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to prevent legal recognition of same-sex marriages.

Only in 2005, did Mr. Klein give up this particular fight, and reluctantly (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Upstairs, downstairs in Alberta explained by Labour Minister Thomas Lukaszuk: ‘We’re dealing with different job descriptions’

Furious Alberta civil service “oranges” protest high-handed Tory “apples” during their illegal st**ke of 1980. Below: Provincial Treasurer Lou Hyndman in 1976; Labour Minister Thomas Lukaszuk, no longer missing in action.

Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose!

After a spell during which he appeared to be missing in action, Alberta Labour Minister Thomas Lukaszuk resurfaced in the news columns Thursday to offer the opinion humongous salaries paid to well-connected Tory retainers in the nosebleed seats of the civil service are a meaningless distraction from the serious business of ensuring we all live within our means.

Given what he (Read more…)