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Alberta Diary: Collapse of rickety Wildrose coalition of market fanatics and religious fundamentalists could be bad-news/good-news story for Alberta’s NDP

A recent meeting of the Wildrose Party Legislative caucus. Actual members of the official Opposition party may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: NDP Leader Rachel Notley and Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith.

Monday’s bombshell that the rickety coalition of ideological market-perfection fanatics and social-conservative religious fundamentalists called the Wildrose Party was coming unstuck may turn out to be a bad-news/good-news story for Alberta’s New Democrats.

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith’s big problem – other than the fact she appeared to have been completely out of the loop last week about the upcoming defections of MLAs Kerry Towle and Ian Donovan – (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Wildrose Party endures its cruelest day as two MLAs quit to join Jim Prentice’s PC government

Ian Donovan, Alberta Premier Jim Prentice and Kerry Towle at yesterday afternoon’s floor-crossing news conference in the Legislature Building. (Ici Radio-Canada photo.) Below: Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith and quotable former prime ministers Harold Wilson, Brian Mulroney and Winston Churchill.

There was the cruelest sort of irony in the battering suffered yesterday by Alberta’s Wildrose Opposition, which lost two MLAs to the apparently rejuvenated Progressive Conservative Party of Premier Jim Prentice.

Kerry Towle, MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake and last week the party’s seniors and human services critic, and Ian Donovan, MLA for Little Bow and the party’s agriculture (Read more…)

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…)

Politics and its Discontents: WildRose Revisited

The other day I wrote a post about the Wildrose Party’s retraction of its definitive equal rights clause that covered almost every conceivable individual. Although leader Danielle Smith had enthused the day before about its inclusiveness, when party delegates voted it down, she quickly changed her tune, saying that the more generic substitute was better.

In this morning’s Globe, Gary Mason offers his own view on what many see as a regressive step for Wildrose, and what he calls yet another ‘bozo eruption.”: The change was important for a political institution that is still viewed suspiciously in some (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Perhaps They Forgot (In)Alien(able) Rights?

The Edmonton Journal reports the following story about the Wildrose Party: Wildrose members on Saturday voted down a “definitive statement” on equality rights, one day after leader Danielle Smith trumpeted the motion that had been adopted by the party last year.

Perhaps its specificity offended some of the party’s ‘less progressive’ members? Delegates at the Wildrose annual general meeting in Red Deer voted 148 — 109 to reject a proposal to make policy a motion adopted last year defending the rights of all people, “regardless of race, religious belief, colour, gender, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, (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: 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: Business arising from the minutes: Unionized St. Albert workers sign deal; CTF Alberta director suddenly departs

Toronto’s once notorious Rochedale College, now a perfectly respectable apartment building. Below: Outgoing Canadian Taxpayers Federation Alberta Director Derek Fildebrandt and the King’s Noodle Restaurant (grabbed from TripAdvisor).

TORONTO

It was my intention, since I am away from Alberta on business, not to file an Alberta Diary post this evening. Truth be told, Friday night and Saturday are the week’s worst times for readership anyway, as those readers with a life tend to be off living it.

Still, my iPhone gonged portentously when I exited my Air Canada flight from Edmonton here in the Ford Bothers’ hometown tonight with two (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: The Annals of Irony: Those alleged Wildrose caucus recordings and Danielle Smith’s 1999 school board ‘opposition research’ escapade

A mean note found in a trashcan or a coffee cup and reassembled. Actual mean notes found in actual trashcans may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Former Wildrose MLA Joe Anglin, Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith, former Calgary Herald editorial page editor Peter Stockland, former Calgary Liberal candidate and public school trustee Jennifer Pollock, former CBE chair Teresa Woo-Paw, now a PC MLA.

There is a certain irony in Opposition Leader Danielle Smith’s distress this week at the thought someone might have recorded meetings of the Wildrose Party’s Legislative caucus.

That someone, according to Ms. Smith, was former (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: 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: Welcome to Alberta, where, baby, these are the days of miracles and wonders…

Conservative political leaders distribute loaves and fishes, part of the school lunch program planned for the hundreds of new schools that will be popping up overnight out here in Alberta. Actual Alberta politicians may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: The real Premier Jim Prentice, Opposition Leader Danielle Smith and Education Minister Gordon Dirks, all of whom we can have faith will deliver.

It is no longer a metaphor when we say Alberta’s conservative politicians are performing miracles and wonders.

Leastways, yesterday, Premier Jim Prentice announced his intention to perform an actual, literal miracle – to create 230 new (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: NDP and Liberal candidates’ with similar appeal in Edmonton-Whitemud don’t make progressive voters’ job any easier

The NDP and Alberta Liberals fight it out in Edmonton-Whitemud. I’ll leave it to readers to determine who’s just been demasted. Below: Liberal candidate Dr. Donna Wilson (CBC photo) and NDP candidate Dr. Bob Turner.

The reasons are perfectly clear and quite understandable, but it’s depressing nonetheless to see Alberta’s provincial Liberals and New Democrats fighting so bitterly for a few scraps from the table at which the Tories and the Wildrosers get to dine.

But how else can we explain the spectacle of our province’s two progressive parties with only nine Legislative seats between them battling it out in (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: The Amazing Race, Alberta Political Edition: can the Tories find their missing mojo?

Opposition party members prepare to run against the Progressive Conservative candidates, uncertain why they are being made to race with sacks on their feet while the Tories aren’t. Actual Alberta politicians may not appear exactly as illustrated. New faces below: The NDP’s Jennifer Burgess; the Tories’ Mike Ellis.

Premier Jim Prentice called a news conference yesterday morning in Calgary and announced, as widely expected, that he and his two likewise-unelected cabinet ministers will run in by-elections to be held within the shortest time frame legally possible.

Unexpected was that Mr. Prentice himself would run for the Progressive Conservative Party in (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: The best candidates aren’t necessarily the best candidates in important Edmonton-Whitemud by-election

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith introduces her party’s Edmonton-Whitemud candidate, Tim, Grover, at a news conference in the riding yesterday. Below: NDP Candidate Dr. Bob Turner, Mr. Grover again, and former Edmonton mayor, unelected health minister and PC candidate Stephen Mandel.

In the race to knock off an unelected health minister whose main qualification is that he’s a former elected mayor, it’s a commentary on the state of Alberta that a distinguished hematologist, oncologist and medical school teacher stands far less of a chance of pulling off an upset than a young entrepreneur whose businesses are not even named in his (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: 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: 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…)