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Alberta Diary: Alberta Premier Jim Prentice plucks the low-hanging fruit – now for the hard stuff…

If getting rid of SAM wasn’t that easy, imagine what the green eggs and ham are going to be like! Above, Premier Jim Prentice with the licence plate Alberta won’t be dumping after all. (CBC photo) Below: The typical Progressive Conservative, not necessarily exactly as illustrated.

It’s one thing to let a couple of pieces of ill-considered and unpopular legislation die on the order paper.

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice did that yesterday with Bills 9 and 10, two bad ideas cooked up by the brainiacs in Alison Redford’s inner circle to make the anti-public-service and financial services lobbies happy by (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: 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: Hurricane Redford shook Alberta to its foundations – the place may never be the same!

Her era drawing to a close, Alison Redford is sent out of a Progressive Conservative Caucus meeting on March 13 while Tory MLAs argue over her fate. Below: Premier Dave Hancock; Tory leadership aspirant Thomas Lukaszuk.

Former premier Alison Redford signed off from public life in Alberta yesterday morning with the words, “I truly believe we made a difference.”

Well, if nothing else, Ms. Redford got that part right! In less than three years Hurricane Alison, the royal plural and all, shook the place to its foundations.

After the lingering Air Redford scandal, the astonishing Sky Palace affair, the (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Never mind Alison Redford: Finance Minister Doug Horner, unfortunately, needs to resign

Ed Stelmach, Alison Redford and Doug Horner together on the stage on the night of Ms. Redford’s election as PC Party leader in October 2011. Below: Mr. Horner, Ms. Redford and Mr. Stelmach.

If the Parliamentary convention called ministerial responsibility still has meaning in Alberta or Canada, Finance Minister Doug Horner must resign.

Everyone in political Alberta has been focusing on another question: what should happen to former premier Alison Redford in the wake of the many recent revelations about her controversial conduct in office?

This serves a political purpose for those with a partisan axe to grind, but as (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: 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…)

Alberta Diary: Ric McIver needs to explain his longstanding connections to the ‘Progressive Group for Independent Business’ and its beliefs

Found on the Internet, apropos of nothing in particular, Ric McIver and friend. Below: Craig B. Chandler of the Progressive Group for Independent Business.

Up to now, Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Ric McIver has quite successfully flown under the radar about his ideological beliefs.

Indeed, very little has been written about what makes Mr. McIver tick – and almost nothing at all about what he believes, and therefore what he would do in office.

His official biography is uninformative, as is his Wikipedia entry. Neither provides any hint about his economic or philosophical views beyond his party affiliation – and (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 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Tales from the Tory crypt: Apres Alison le deluge

Tory leadership non-candidate Jim Dinning with your blogger, back in the day. Below: Former premier Ed Stelmach and non-candidates Ted Morton and Gary Mar.

If we were to speak for former Alberta premier Alison Redford today, here is what we would say: “Apres moi le deluge!”

There is plenty of fight left in the Alberta PC Party. The trouble is, it is all directed inwardly, at other Tories.

On everything except the policies that must be changed to save the party, Alberta’s crumbling 43-year-old Progressive Conservatives dynasty is disunited, playing out its increasingly bitter rivalries in public.

Given that, (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: Tory MLAs, reporters, right-wing ideologues take aim at Alison Redford for PC Party’s woes

The Alberta premier’s personal airship ties up alongside the Sky Palace Official First Minister’s Residence, high atop the former Federal Building in Edmonton. Actual official accommodations may not appear exactly as illustrated, even in the blueprints. Below: Former premiers Ralph Klein and Ed Stelmach.

OTTAWA

Everyone is piling onto Alison Redford now, a phenomenon we can expect to continue for a few days or even weeks as three things happen.

First, journalists who were working on stories started during the former Alberta premier’s final days in power are going to want to get them filed and published as quickly as (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: Advice to Dave Hancock: sweet words won’t be enough for Alberta’s unhappy civil servants

Your blogger with Alberta’s newest premier, Dave Hancock, not so long ago. Below: U.S. presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon.

What a difference a few days can make! One leaves the province with one premier in power, figuratively bellowing threats at the civil service, and returns less than a week later to find another one, whispering sweet nothings in the same public employees’ ears!

Well, that’s not quite fair. Whomever Alison Redford was bellowing threats at last week, it wasn’t likely the Alberta civil service any more. In her mind, I suspect, she reckoned she’d already sorted (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: 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…)