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Alberta Diary: The bloom is off the (Wild)rose – Opposition Leader Danielle Smith assailed by doubts, dissent and departures

Are the wheels falling off the Wildrose bus, which may or may not look exactly as illustrated any more? Below: Beleaguered Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith, Taber-Warner-Cardston MLA Gary Bikman and Wildrose House Leader Rob Anderson.

These may be happy days for the Progressive Conservatives under Premier Jim Prentice, but the bloom is definitely off Alberta’s Wildrose Opposition.

Just weeks ago seen as a sure bet to be the province’s next premier, Wildrose Opposition Leader Danielle Smith is today buffeted by an embarrassing scrap between her party’s social conservatives and socially progressive members over LGBTQ rights, troubled by questions about her (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Two political general meetings in one weekend: Wildrosers conduct gloomy post-mortem while PCs flirt with characteristic hubris

Steady as she goes! Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith, centre, works to keep party stalwarts, on either side, on the right course, which would be not too far to the right, of course. Alberta Premier Prentice, at the wheel above, tries to get the earnest Wildrosers to take a wrong turn. Actual Alberta conservative party leaders, supporters and their political vehicles may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: The real Mr. Prentice and the real Ms. Smith.

Both of Alberta’s right-wing parties held general meetings this weekend – the ever-ruling Progressive Conservatives in Banff and the so-far never-ruling Wildrose Party in (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Alberta’s big problem is the same as Russia’s – so what’s Stephen Harper doing about it?

Keep those wells a-pumpin! Keep those oil prices low! Squeeze those Russkies! Uh … just a minute. … isn’t that bad for Alberta’s many varieties of Conservative? Below: Russian President Vladimir Putin, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Mr. Harper’s hero, Margaret Thatcher.

The Globe and Mail, tireless cheerleader for the Harper Government, was gloating Monday about the impact falling oil prices, a declining Ruble and the bite of Western sanctions are having on Russia, which, the Report on Business rejoiced, is being pushed toward the brink of recession.

Woo-hoo! That’ll teach those Russkies to try to keep NATO (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Liberal Leader Raj Sherman may have scored ‘own goal’ as Elections Alberta investigates donations to his party by firms he owns

If this is your own goal, there may be something wrong with your game! Below: Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman and Edmonton billionaire Daryl Katz.

Call it the Alberta Political Advantage.

Reports of illegal and questionable political donations have dogged Alberta’s Progressive Conservative government for years. These included contributions made by such public institutions as municipalities, colleges, universities, and health regions, as well as iffy “bulk contributions” organized by well-heeled private citizens who were friends of the PC Government.

Now it would appear it’s not just the PCs.

Leastways, the Edmonton Sun and the Calgary Herald both reported late yesterday (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Said to be sought as candidate by Wildrose Party, ‘tax watchdog’ spokesperson’s intentions are for the moment unclear

CTF Alberta spokesperson Derek Fildebrandt last summer at the Legislature in Edmonton. Below: Premier Jim Prentice and political blogger Dave Cournoyer.

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith is “working hard” to recruit Canadian Taxpayers Federation Alberta spokesperson Derek Fildebrandt as a candidate for the next provincial general election in the Calgary-Bow riding, Daveberta.ca blog author Dave Cournoyer reported yesterday.

“Mr. Fildebrandt is an outspoken critic of the PC Government and has targeted Premier Jim Prentice with FOIP requests dating back to his time in Ottawa,” Mr. Cournoyer wrote, citing “rumours” that he said have been circulating for some time.

If it (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Conservative parties squirm as fired AHS executive triumphs over government, controversial MLA quits opposition caucus

This just in from Alberta’s two conservative parties. Below: former Alberta Health Services CFO Allaudin Merali, Alberta Premier Jim Prentice, MLA Joe Anglin (CBC Photo), Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith, former health minister Fred Horne.

Alberta’s governing Progressive Conservative Party and its Opposition Wildrose Party, in addition to sharing an identical right-wing ideology, face a similar problem this morning, a situation and a person each party would very much like to see go away as quickly as possible.

In each case the circumstances have the potential to embarrass each party seriously enough with voters to impact its chances in the next (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: No change! No change! Jim Prentice’s ‘new management’ is offering the same old Tory stuff

New management … same old owner. It’s all about marketing. Below: Jim Prentice and Fred Horne, advocating the same health care policies.

Sustained, uninterrupted privatization of health care, a senior official dumped for daring to speak out about political interference in her supposedly independent work, thousands of dollars in illegal donations to the good ole Tory Dynasty now led by Premier Jim Prentice …

All this and a Speaker who doesn’t understand or care about his impartial role in the Legislature. … Plus a national mission to build pipelines to all points of the compass!

This is new management? Sure (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: As soon as the NDP picks a new leader today, the party’s focus should turn to Edmonton-Whitemud – here’s why

Your blogger with Edmonton-Whitemud NDP candidate Dr. Bob Turner. Yeah, I support the NDP. Live with it! Below: Retiring NDP Leader Brian Mason, Health Minister Stephen Mandel, Alberta Liberal candidate Donna Wilson and NDP leadership frontrunner Rachel Notley.

After today, when the Alberta New Democratic Party has at long last chosen a leader to replace the retiring Brian Mason, she (or he) needs immediately to turn her (or his) attention to the Oct. 27 Edmonton-Whitemud by-election.

That’s because, if the buzz from some conservative-leaning campaigners is to be believed, there’s a sense on the doorsteps of the suburban Edmonton (Read more…)

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…)

Alberta Diary: Happy Thanksgiving! Would the Tories praising our health care system please stop trying to privatize it!

Edmonton’s Misericordia Hospital waaay back in the day. Below: The modern Mis, the one in Edmonton’s west end that after 45 years is falling apart. Alberta Health Minister Stephen Mandel.

Happy Thanksgiving! With a case of a “potential contagious illness” in an unidentified Edmonton hospital last night, I guess we can be thankful we have a public health care system, even if it faces a serious funding crisis and is housed in crumbling facilities.

This, at any rate, is the party line from Conservative federal and provincial politicians as they keep to keep us from panicking about the emergence of, (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: On those Wildrose attack ads: they can hardly say Jim Prentice has ‘no plan’

The harshest of the three Wildrose Attack ads. Just let Youtube play, and you can see the Wildrose Party’s other two current attack ads plus its single positive spot. Below: A screen shot from one of the spectacularly ineffective 2006 No Plan ads attacking then premier Ed Stelmach. The full ads, unfortunately, have been removed from Youtube. A scene from another of the 2014 Wildrose ads.

I’m not at all certain the Wildrose Party’s TV ads attacking the governing Progressive Conservative candidates in the upcoming Alberta “mini-election” are going to work as intended.

The three negative TV ads depict Premier (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Remember where you heard it first: privatizing the Alberta government air fleet in haste was a lousy business decision

A flight steward welcomes well-connected passengers aboard a chartered government of Alberta flight sometime in the near future. But don’t worry about it. You’ll never know if Alberta’s privatized air services are not exactly as illustrated because there will be no accountability. Below: Premier Jim Prentice, the business guru who came up with this scheme; Edmonton Journal political columnist Graham Thomson.

Alberta’s mainstream media seems to have discovered at last that selling off the government’s air fleet to expunge the embarrassment of Alison Redford’s premiership is not necessarily an astute business move, and is most definitely unfair to the 27 (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: NDP leadership debate was amicable, but it ignored the elephant in the progressive political room

Candidate Rachel Notley addresses the crowd of New Democrats Thursday night during the Alberta New Democratic Party’s final leadership debate in Edmonton. Candidates Rod Loyola, in the middle, and David Eggen, at left, are visible in the background. (Photo by Olav Rokne.) Below: Mr. Eggen, Mr. Loyola and 2012 federal NDP candidate Nathan Cullen, who advocated co-operation among progressive political parties.

Listening to the Alberta NDP’s final leadership debate Thursday night in Edmonton, one could almost imagine there was total unanimity about everything among the province’s New Democrats.

Indeed, there was complete unanimity among the three candidates – in (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Time for Tories to place a bet: Jim Prentice reaches a crucial moment in a high-stakes game

Prentice… James Prentice… Alberta’s premier eyes the opposition as the time grows near to decide whether to hold ’em, fold ’em, or just run. No way he can walk away now! Actual PC politicians dealt a lousy hand may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: The real Mr. Prentice; Calgary-Nose Hill-Mackay MLA Neil Brown

As Kenny Rogers famously sang, “You gotta to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run…”

Sometime today, we’ve been assured, we’ll be told where in Calgary Premier Jim Prentice will run for a (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Alberta Premier Jim Prentice repudiates controversial Redford Era triple-entry financial bookkeeping scheme

Alberta Health Minister Stephen Mandel and Premier Jim Prentice, neither elected just yet. Below: Former finance minister Doug Horner, current Education Minister Gordon Dirks, also unelected, and Emperor Augustus. Notice the similarity of the emperor to Mr. Mandel.

Well, nuts to you, Doug Horner!

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice continued his (almost) clean sweep of Redford Era Progressive Conservative Government policies yesterday, whisking away the former party leadership’s weird system of triple-entry bookkeeping that was introduced last year by Mr. Horner in his role as Alison Redford’s finance minister.

As of yesterday, it’s safe to say that the confusing financial reporting (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Calgary’s new ‘Band-Aid’ schools: just the thing for a government suffering the death of a thousand cuts

Temporary structures like the army huts in the background, built in 1939 and ’40, were still in use when this shot was taken at the just-formed University of Victoria circa 1963, and a few of them are still in use today. Below: Alberta Premier Jim Prentice, Wildrose education critic Jeff Wilson and Liberal education critic Kent Hehr.

So we can probably all see how this one is going to roll out: Premier Jim Prentice announced four new “starter” public schools in under-served Calgary suburbs today. That’s just Calgary.

Today or tomorrow, if he likes, he can announce four more in (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Be careful what you ask for! Jim Prentice walks away with the Wildrose political play book

Premier Jim Prentice. Below: Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith and former party strategist Tom Flanagan, this time on the button.

As the expression goes: be careful what you ask for! You might just get it.

There is irony – perhaps even bitter irony – in what newly minted Alberta Premier Jim Prentice managed to do to the Wildrose Opposition last week and will likely continue to do to them this week as well.

As he attempts to right the leaky Progressive Conservative ship of state, which nearly sank during the inept captaincy of fired premier Alison Redford, he has not (Read more…)

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: 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: 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: Cabinet making in a shallow talent pool: what’s Alberta’s Jim Prentice going to do?

The Alberta Tory talent pool in 2014. Shallow, and not much fun for the guy in charge. Actual Alberta PC leaders may not appear as illustrated. Below: The real Mr. Jim Prentice. Main photo grabbed from the Internet.

Never mind the transition team. What about the cabinet?

It’s not just a question of who will be in Alberta Premier Select Jim Prentice’s minimalist new pre-general-election Progressive Conservative cabinet – Ken Hughes, c’mon down! – but who won’t be.

It’s also a question of who gets stiffed, regionally speaking: Calgary, Edmonton, or the countryside – which has already gone over to (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Just as things were looking up a bit for foundering PCs, Alison Redford showed up again

Alison Redford contemplates which way to turn as she leaves behind a trail of devastation, toward the capital city’s new Sky Palace Hotel, left, or toward Edmonton’s High Level Bridge, right. Actual former premiers and the landmarks they threaten may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: The real Ms. Redford; Tory leadership candidates Jim Prentice, Thomas Lukaszuk and Ric McIver.

Just when things were starting to look a little better for Alberta’s Progressive Conservative government, Alison Redford blundered back onto the provincial scene like the monster from low-budget a 1950s horror flick.

So suggests the latest version of a regular (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Albertans have a right to ask questions about the integrity and preservation of their government’s records

Alberta Tories contemplate their departure from the Legislature. Actual Progressive Conservative Government officials may not leave office in exactly the manner illustrated. Below: But if they do, is this the fate of their secrets? Below that: the late premier Ralph Klein and privatization advocate and cabinet minister Steve West.

There’s a whiff of panic in the air nowadays in some of the most politicized corners of the Alberta government.

Of course, every government that has been in power for more than a few years, regardless of its ideology or party name, has secrets it would rather not reveal.

But with (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Have the PCs sold only 23,700 memberships? If so, it’s bad news for frontrunner Jim Prentice no matter how you slice it!

Jim Prentice tries to figure out what to do about his incredible shrinking party. Actual potential Progressive Conservative leaders may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: the real Mr. Prentice, plus candidates Ric McIver and Thomas Lukaszuk.

An intriguing rumour – impossible for an outsider to verify – did the rounds of Alberta political circles yesterday. To wit: That the Progressive Conservative Party has sold fewer than 24,000 memberships since the 2014 leadership race began.

If the three candidates have managed to sell only 23,700 memberships, this is not very good news for a party that hopes somehow to cling (Read more…)