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daveberta.ca - Alberta Politics: Alberta can’t afford to ignore the Provincial Sales Tax

“Rat-free, PST-free and Liberal-free” has been a Conservative mantra in Alberta since the reign of Pierre Elliott Trudeau. But is this trifecta now in jeopardy? The decline of government revenues caused by the drop in the price of oil has once again sparked… Continue Reading →

Alberta Diary: Alberta, I give you Alison Redford, Person of the Year for 2014!

Former premier Alison Redford at the moment of her leadership campaign victory in 2011. Former opposition leader Danielle Smith in a typical campaign pose last summer.

Back in the mists of time, or rather, Time, there used to be a regular December feature called “Man of the Year.”

That was amended to “Person of the Year” in the 28th year of Progressive Conservative rule here in Alberta, and no doubt many in that party are still upset by the change, being symptomatic, as it were, of that other kind of PC they so love to disparage.

Other (Read more…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: A Dozen Alberta MLAs worth watching in 2015

TweetAs 2014 reminded us, politics can be an extraordinarily unpredictable and forecasting the future can be a tricky business for political pundits. Aside from the obvious choice of Premier Jim Prentice, here is a list of a dozen Alberta MLAs worth watching in 2015. Rob Anderson (Airdrie): The outspoken rookie MLA left the PC Caucus in 2010 … Continue reading A Dozen Alberta MLAs worth watching in 2015 →

Alberta Diary: Enough with the fantasy Wildrose was Alberta’s best opposition, already! It’s baloney!

And then there were five: The Wildrose caucus back before it experienced civil war, desertions and mass defections, including that of its leader, the woman in red above. Below: former NDP leader Brian Mason and current Leader Rachel Notley; effective Liberal MLAs David Swann and Hugh Macdonald.

One of the more irritating byproducts of mass defection by the Mudville Nine and two of their caucus colleagues who rejoined the Tory Mothership a few days earlier has been the outright wholesaling of the nonsensical claim the Wildrose Party was the most effective opposition Alberta has ever known.

Jen Gerson and Jesse (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Never mind the Mudville Nine: Nothing has changed, nothing ever will, that is all!

“Your health. Our promise.” It’s March 1, 2013, and then-premier Alison Redford announces plans to build a new cancer treatment facility in Calgary to replace the grubby and overcrowded Tom Baker Cancer Centre. (Photo grabbed from Metro Newspapers.) But that was then. This is now. Below: Alberta Health Minister Stephen Mandel; the Tom Baker facility in northwest Calgary.

As Danielle Smith might have said, were she still the leader of the Opposition, “nothing has changed!”

On Friday, mass media were uncritically reporting the “reasons” the new cancer hospital promised to Calgary on which construction was supposed (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Blogger Brian Mason explains why Jim Prentice, ‘Alberta’s first Wildrose premier,’ is preparing to call a snap election

Former NDP leader Brian Mason in a couple of typical poses, above and below. I’ll bet you didn’t know he was a terrific political blogger too!

Jim Prentice is Alberta’s first Wildrose premier and he will soon call a snap election to ensure he can push forward a Wildrose program of using temporarily low oil prices as justification to roll back public sector salaries, attack pensions, reintroduce health care premiums and lay off nurses and teachers.

This sharp and credible warning comes from someone who should be better known as a political blogger than he is, a shrewd analyst of (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Oh Buffster where art thou? Jim Prentice names nothing but bosses to his ‘blue ribbon’ panel on worker morale

Dan MacLennan – known as Buff, or the Buffster, to his friends – with Premier Ralph Klein, back in the day when Alberta’s leaders didn’t just talk to the Big Kahunas from the executive suite. Below: Ex Syncrude CEO Jim Carter, former Edmonton Journal Publisher Linda Hughes, Maclab Enterprises Chair Marc de La Bruyère and Queen’s University Professor Françoise Morissette.

Premier Jim Prentice, former chartered bank vice-president, has created a “blue ribbon” advisory panel of big bosses from public and private sector executive suites to do something about sagging morale and high turnover in the Alberta public service.

What’s wrong (Read more…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Alberta is always in Tough Economic Times

Tweet“They don’t know what to do with tough economic times. It was easy enough to govern when the money was flowing in, when things were going well. They took all the credit for it at that time. It’s much harder to govern, and the mark of a good government is how they handle it, when […]

Alberta Diary: The accountability ship has sailed, Bill 2 notwithstanding; Premiers Jim Prentice and Ralph Klein compared

A pensive Ralph Klein, maybe thinking about his worst political mistakes. Below: Jim Prentice and Alison Redford, also Alberta premiers. Premier, you’re no Ralph Klein!

Accountability legislation?

Oh, well … that changes everything!

All sarcasm aside, people, I think that ship has sailed, actually …

Bill 10, legislation designed to make it hard to form gay-straight alliances in schools, having turned into an embarrassing flop that won’t go away, Premier Jim Prentice yesterday introduced Bill 2, a law that in the words of the headline on the government’s news release, “aims to improve accountability and restore trust with (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: What are Premier Jim Prentice and his three ‘agents of change’ planning for Alberta’s public service?

Alberta civil servants: do you get the feeling someone may have their eye on you? Below: Agents of change Richard Dicerni, Ian Brodie, Oryssia Lennie and Steve West.

Premier Jim Prentice says he intends to “reform” Alberta’s public service, fix its low morale, reverse its “shocking” turnover and deal with its other “very significant problems.”

He’s appointed a former senior federal civil servant and well-connected business professor to be his “agent of change,” along with a couple of right-hand persons to assist with this change agentry. Their work will start immediately.

Sounds way better, huh, than former premier Alison (Read more…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: As 2 more Wildrose MLAs leave, can Danielle Smith’s leadership survive?

TweetLast week, the wheels were falling off the Wildrose bus. This week, the passengers have flung open the emergency exits and started leaping out into traffic. The Wildrose Official Opposition started the month of November with 17 MLAs and might be ending it with only fourteen. Today, Progressive Conservative leader Jim Prentice, flanked by Little Bow […]

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: What’s at stake in the four Oct. 27 by-elections?

TweetWith less than two days left in Alberta’s mini-election, voters will head to the polls on the morning of October 27, 2014 to cast their ballots in by-elections being held in Calgary-Elbow, Calgary-Foothills, Calgary-West and Edmonton-Whitemud. As these mid-term elections approach, what is at stake for Alberta’s political parties? Progressive Conservatives In a normal general election, […]

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: New Democrats yesterday were ready for Rachel – can Albertans reach the same conclusion?

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley, about to be interviewed by the media, moments after her victory speech in Edmonton yesterday. Below: Three scenes from yesterday’s NDP leadership convention, one of Ms. Notley’s buttons, her father, Grant Notley.

Rachel Notley’s campaign buttons asked: “Are you Ready for Rachel?”

There was never much doubt Alberta’s New Democrats were ready for Rachel, and they proved it yesterday by overwhelmingly choosing the scion of this province’s second-most-famous political dynasty as leader of their party in voting at Edmonton’s Sutton Place Hotel.

This has been clear since former leader Brian Mason announced his intention (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…)

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: The magic of Tory reinvention. A new era for Alberta.

TweetAs the Progressive Conservatives brandish their new slogan, “A new era for Alberta,” many Albertans might be confused about which political party has been in power for the past 43 years. The Oxford English Dictionary defines an era as “a long and distinct period of history.” If we were to apply the geological time scale of the Earth […]

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Four by-elections are a risky mid-term report card for Alberta Tories

TweetAlbertans in four provincial constituencies will go to the polls on October 27, 2014. Half-way through the PC Government’s current four year term in office, the by-elections will be our own version of the mid-term elections. Yesterday morning three anticipated provincial by-elections turned into four when first-term Ken Hughes announced his resignation as the Progressive Conservative MLA […]

daveberta.ca - Alberta politics: Coming Soon: Calgary-Elbow and Edmonton-Whitemud by-elections

TweetWith provincial by-elections in Alberta’s two biggest cities expected to be called soon, opposition parties are gearing up to challenge two unelected cabinet ministers running under the Progressive Conservative banner. Dates for the by-election votes have not been scheduled and a third by-election for Premier Jim Prentice is also expected to take place. Mr. Prentice is expected to run […]

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: Privatization of Alberta’s air fleet will cost citizens money and change nothing

A typical government airplane explained. The politics and financing are more complicated. Below: Jim Prentice.

Privatization of the Alberta government’s four-plane air fleet, announced this morning by unelected Premier Jim Prentice at his first official news conference, makes plenty of political sense, but will end up costing citizens more and change nothing.

This is always the pattern with the privatization of public services. Now, in addition to having to pay for airplane services for the top dogs of the provincial government, we taxpayers will have to build in a margin to cover corporate profits, plus higher private-sector insurance and borrowing (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Strap on your seat belts? Jim Prentice’s cabinet is more like a drive down memory lane

Jim Prentice prepares to be sworn in yesterday. Below: Health Minister Stephen Mandel and social media gadfly Olav Rokne.

Things were going to change in Alberta so much once his capable hands were on the steering wheel, Jim Prentice warned us, that we’d better make sure we’d strapped on our seatbelts!

Well, he might have given us a mild scare as he motored through the political equivalent of a yellow light yesterday afternoon by appointing a couple of unelected, well-off, older, gentlemen to his cabinet.

These two fellows may or may not turn out to be a matched set (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Prentice in a walk – but the low voter turnout tells the real story about the fate of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives

This file photo, almost as boring as Jim Prentice’s speech to the troops in Edmonton tonight, and I have it on good authority it was pretty darned boring, will be replaced later if anyone sends me a better one.

VICTORIA, B.C.

Well! That’s it then. Jim Prentice in a walk, the first time the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party has actually chosen the frontrunner in the past three leadership races, maybe four if you count Ralph Klein.

My phone chirped the results to me from the floor of the EXPO Centre in Edmonton at 6:54 p.m. Alas, I’m in (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: That Portrait of a Certain Lady: a bargain for Albertans at $12,000? Or not?

Is this what Alison Redford’s official portrait is going to look like? Below: Ms. Redford as she might have been seen by Pablo Picasso or Gustav Klimt. We can do better, people!

VICTORIA, B.C.

“Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” — Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

While we all wait for tomorrow night to see if fund-raising prowess or something else motivates Alberta Progressive Conservative Party members, let’s engage in a little creative thought about public support for the arts where the oil hits the canvas, at the nexus of (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: PC leadership: Jim Prentice’s term limit fumble and Thomas Lukaszuk’s cellular bill are good news for Ric McIver

File under, “Dinner, done like”… Alison Redford serves dinner to Thomas Lukaszuk as Jim Prentice, at left, and Dave Hancock, Doug Horner and Ric McIver look on. Actual Tory premiers, former premiers, would-be premiers and former would-be premiers may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: The author with Ric McIver. It just seemed like the right time to trot this one out!

Looks like it’s time to start planning for a couple of years of a McIver Government.

Leastways, the past couple of days have not earned any gold stars for former infrastructure minister Ric McIver’s two competitors, supposed (Read more…)