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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: Tory candidate Ric McIver to voters: No to green light speed enforcement; yes to booze sales at 4 a.m.; maybe to chain gangs

Edmonton’s Whyte Avenue at 4 a.m., as imagined by Ric McIver, would-be Tory leader and premier. Actual Alberta street scenes are unlikely ever to be as described with regard to the availability of taxicabs. Below: Mr. McIver, candidates Jim Prentice and Thomas Lukaszuk.

Well, no one can say that Ric McIver hasn’t set himself apart from the other two candidates for the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party leadership.

While frontrunner Jim Prentice and tail gunner Thomas Lukaszuk have each offered five largely meaningless anodyne platitudes as their priorities, Mr. McIver has been right out there with some fairly definitive (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Tories shut down any possibility leadership candidate Thomas Lukaszuk will get to shine

Thomas Lukaszuk is an entertaining speaker with a full range of facial expressions. His party is going to make darned sure he doesn’t have a chance to use those talents in the service of his leadership bid. Below: PC leadership frontrunner Jim Prentice and candidate Ric McIver.

While Thomas Lukaszuk’s chances of succeeding in the race to become leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party always seemed like a long shot, one has to feel a certain sympathy with the Edmonton MLA’s protest his party won’t permit a real unscripted debate to take place among the three candidates for the (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Could Ric McIver still win the Alberta Tory leadership race? Actually, yes, he could!

Ladies and gentlemen, place your bets. All the money’s on Jim Prentice – but is it the smart money? Below: Ric McIver, Jim Prentice, Jim Dinning and Gary Mar.

CALGARY

Could Ric McIver actually win the Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership race?

Or, to put that another way, could Jim Prentice lose?

Maybe that seems like a theme for a political science fiction story to you. After all, Mr. Prentice – the former banker, corporate lobbyist and federal cabinet minister – is the choice of the PC establishment.

What’s more, he’s now backed by 49 of 59 PC Members of the (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Once a Tory leadership front-runner, Gary Mar reaches out from Asia to haunt Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives

Brian Mulroney, right, famously responds to the claim made by John Turner, left, that he had “no option” but approve Pierre Trudeau’s patronage appointments. Below: Gary Mar in 2011.

Advice to Jim Prentice: If, in some future pre-election leaders’ debate someone asks you about Gary Mar’s 2013 compensation package, don’t say: “I had no option.”

In fact, that would be true if Mr. Prentice were to say it. Ditto Ric McIver, the second- or third-runner, depending how you calculate it, in the 2014 version of the Progressive Conservative Party leadership race.

As for Thomas Lukaszuk, he was in cabinet (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Alberta Education Minister Jeff Johnson’s War on Teachers signals division within Tory Party, not conspiracy

The Hancock Conservatives do good-cop-bad-cop? At left, Jeff Johnson as Jim Prentice, at right, tries to get him to straighten up and fly a little less far right. Actual Alberta Progressive Conservatives may not appear exactly as illustrated, especially in this unlikely scenario. Below: My only picture of the real Mr. Johnson; one of many of the real Mr. Prentice.

Anti-teacher sentiment runs deep nowadays in Alberta conservative circles.

Education Minister Jeff Johnson’s war with the Alberta Teachers Association over how its members ought to be disciplined on those rare occasions when they misbehave is only the latest manifestation of (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: A question for Premier Dave Hancock: Who will rid Alberta’s Tories of their turbulent Education Minister?

Education Minister Jeff Johnson flips burgers at Alison Redford’s K-Days Breakfast, last year. A sign of things to come for Mr. Johnson? Below: Premier Dave Hancock, who knows what he needs to do, former premier Redford, who knew exactly what she wanted, and Alberta Information Commissioner Jill Clayton, who knows the law.

Now that we know Education Minister Jeff Johnson or someone in his office broke Alberta’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to send an email to more than 34,000 teachers back in 2013, is it time for Dave Hancock to start acting like he really is (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Front-running PC leadership candidate Jim Prentice may have just set benchmark for party vote in September

Tory candidate Jim Prentice greets supporters at the opening of his Edmonton campaign headquarters Tuesday evening, showing the first signs of development of the hard-to-avoid campaign paunch. Below: Prover Tory vote-getter Ed Stelmach; Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre MLA Joe Anglin.

Looking tired and uncharacteristically slightly rumpled, Progressive Conservative leadership front-runner Jim Prentice pleaded with supporters at his new Edmonton campaign headquarters Tuesday evening to help him sell 100,000 Tory Party memberships by September.

“We need you to take a membership book and sell it over the summer,” Mr. Prentice told the crowd – which was substantial, but not exactly a multitude (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: The only hope for Alberta’s Tories now may be a call to Ghostbusters, or an exorcist!

The Ric McIver campaign balloon makes its way through downtown Calgary. Who ya gonna call? Kathleen Wynne? Some of the cast of the Gong Show, Alberta Edition, below: Former infrastructure minister McIver, Infrastructure Minister Wayne Drysdale, and actual acting infrastructure minister Dave Hancock.

Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party is looking for a new leader, but what it may actually need is an exorcism, or at least the services of a good ghostbuster.

Bad ideas from the recent and distant past keep haunting the hapless PCs until it seems unlikely even leadership frontrunner Jim Prentice, the ostensible solution to all the (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…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: The All-Calgarian PC Party leadership race

TweetAnother Calgarian has entered what has been, at least so far, an all-Calgarian Progressive Conservative leadership race. Announcing his candidacy in the contest to become the next PC Party leader and premier, former Infrastructure minister Ric McIver declared he would bring a “common-sense new approach to replace insider, establishment thinking, with new common-sense thinking.” The first-term MLA and former three-term […]

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Alberta Tories waiting for a Jim Prentice coronation

TweetCould the snoozer that has become Alberta’s Progressive Conservative leadership race risk becoming a coronation if former federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice jumps into the race? Necessitated by the resignation of Premier Alison Redford on March 19, the race to choose the next leader of Alberta’s 43-year long governing PC Party has so far drawn little interest from serious […]

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: Rob Anders loses by a nose in Signal Hill as Cowtown Cons make the best of a bad choice

Lost by a nose … but what a nose! A 22-year-old Rob Anders in 1994, heckling an Oklahoma politician. Below: Calgary Signal Hill nomination victor Ron Liepert; Mr. Anders as he looks today.

There was blood in the water of the Bow River as it flowed through Cowtown last night.

After a while, it became clear the metaphorical blood had been shed by the ever-embarrassing Rob Anders, who at a mere 42 years of age had served an excruciating six terms as the Reform, Alliance and Conservative Member of Parliament for the Calgary West riding, which will soon cease to (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Municipal Affairs Minister Ken Hughes quits Alberta cabinet – presumably to run for PC leadership

Half-confirmed Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Ken Hughes, on the night in 2011 Alison Redford won the party’s leadership. Well, that was then and this is now, as the appalled looking unidentified passerby sensed to have sensed. Below: Doug Horner. Anyone else?

Alberta’s Municipal Affairs Minister quit his cabinet post yesterday, by the sound of it because he intends to run for the leadership of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party.

If that’s the reason for Ken Hughes unexpectedly showing up in one of the back rows of the Legislature’s latest seating chart – he didn’t give a lot of notice that (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: 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: 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…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Tories hope for a Hancockian era of stability

TweetOn March 20, 1989, Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives were re-elected with a majority government but Premier Don Getty was defeated by voters in his Edmonton-Whitemud constituency. It was a stunning embarrassment for the then 18-year governing PC Party. Twenty-five years later, on March 20, 2014, Alberta’s still-governing PCs selected Edmonton-Whitemud MLA Dave Hancock to serve as Premier […]

Calgary Grit: Redford has no one to blame but herself

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No one, least of all politicians, likes to admit just how big a role outside forces play in one’s political success – and failure. Strong MPs are defeated when the national campaign goes south. Unexpected issues derail the best laid plans. Competing interests from within will undermine even the most successful leaders.

That’s largely what happened to the last two Alberta Premiers. Ralph Klein saved the PC party from certain defeat in 1993, won 4 majorities, and eliminated the debt. His party showed its gratitude with a 55% leadership review.

All his successor did was increase the size of their (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…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Albertans defend modest pensions, Redford staff defend Palm Springs flight

TweetAbout 2,000 Albertans from every corner of the province braved the -33C windchill yesterday to defend their modest pension plans at a rally in Edmonton’s Churchill Square. Many municipal and provincial employees are concerned that Finance minister Doug Horner‘s proposed changes to Alberta’s public sector pension plans could impact their retirement security. Despite rhetoric about ‘gold-plated pension […]

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: Remembering Sue Higgins, Calgary alderman: a fiscal conservative, sure, but the real McCoy, not just some ideologue

Sue Higgins in a characteristic pose, grabbed from the Internet. Below: Her official City of Calgary mug, from back in the day.

When I heard on the car radio yesterday afternoon that Sue Higgins had died, the first thing I thought of was that green pantsuit.

This is a funny thing to remember about a person of such real substance, but the seven-term Calgary alderman – and by God, Sue Higgins was an alderman, not a city councillor and most certainly not an alderperson – surely did have her own style. And that green pantsuit – in a shade (Read more…)