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Susan on the Soapbox: The Prentice Campaign: How NOT to Frame the Debate

Frank Luntz, famed political consultant to the Republican Party, said when it comes to political hot buttons “those who define the debate will determine the outcome.*

Given the mess Mr Prentice has made of the “Team Prentice” campaign he may want to give Mr Luntz a call.

Mr Prentice defined the debate in Election 2015 as…what, exactly? The “once in a generation” budget that strikes the right balance between the hatchet wielding Wildrose and the tax-and-spend NDP or the “under new management” premier who is remaking his own corrupt party?

Let’s take a closer look.

The Budget

After months (Read more…)

Susan on the Soapbox: Prentice Drops the “E” Word on Day One

Extremist: /ɛkˈstriːmɪst/ noun, chiefly derogatory: A person who holds extreme political or religious views, especially one who advocates illegal, violent or other extreme action—Oxford dictionary

Hysterical rhetoric

Of all the bonehead things Premier Prentice could have said in his campaign kick-off speech, warning Albertans to beware of “extreme ideas or ideologies” takes the cake.

Prime Minister Harper labeled ISIL “extremists” and “terrorists”. He girded his loins and sent in the troops.

Premier Prentice labelled the Wildrose and the NDP “the extreme right and the extreme left”. He girded his campaign team and sent in the spin doctors.

Are you an (Read more…)

The Liberal Scarf: Good article on "vetting" and opposition research – don’t embarrass the team

Wanted to share this post by former Alberta NDP candidate Marc Power discussing the political vetting process for candidates. As someone who used to do exactly the kind of opposition research Mr. Power talks about in the post, I found it an interesting perspective.

Mr. Power also talks about how important the role of “the team” is in modern politics, and how one individual candidate who has a scandal emerge that could have otherwise been caught in background vetting can knock an entire election campaign off-track, most notably the case of Allan Hunsperger, the anti-gay “Lake of Fire” Wildrose candidate (Read more…)

Susan on the Soapbox: Danielle Smith Betrayed the Wildrose; Jim Prentice Betrayed the Rest of Us

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” —Abraham Lincoln

Premier Prentice gave every member of his caucus a copy of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book Team of Rivals. No doubt to help them “decide” whether to let Danielle Smith, the leader of the Opposition, and eight members of her Wildrose caucus join the Progressive Conservative government.

The absurdity of the situation escaped his dimwitted caucus.

Mr Lincoln

The book describes Abraham Lincoln’s relationship the three men in his own party who challenged Lincoln for the Republican presidential nomination. After Mr Lincoln (Read more…)

Susan on the Soapbox: Danielle Smith’s Leadership Review: A Game of Power

“No one wants less power; everyone wants more.”—Robert Greene

Danielle Smith, leader of the Wildrose party, put her leadership on the line after failing to capture any seats in the four Alberta by-elections. Her leadership review was to take place in mid-November, well ahead of the leadership review scheduled to occur after the 2016 election.

Ms Smith

Ms Smith’s decision appeared, at first blush, to be a risky gambit. However when analysed in the context of Robert Greene’s 48 laws of power, it was an act of political survival.

The Laws of Power

Greene’s best seller, The 48 (Read more…)

Susan on the Soapbox: Bread, Circuses and the Great Alberta Plate Debate

Poor Premier Hancock. Remember him. He tried to pull off the “bread and circuses” gambit—and kicked over a hornet’s nest.

The phrase “bread and circuses” was coined the Romans. It refers to the political strategy of distracting the population from failed government policies and inadequate leadership with “bread” (trivial benefits) and “circuses” (amusement).

Mr Hancock hoped to distract Albertans from the government’s inability to make any headway whatsoever on major issues (healthcare, environment, education, justice, a $17 billion debt by 2017) with a circus. Out of the blue Mr Hancock and his side-kick Mr Griffiths announced that Albertans would be (Read more…)

Susan on the Soapbox: The Alberta Federation of Labour’s Litmus Test for Alberta’s Opposition Parties

“Sometimes telling the truth hurts…and it will hurt here.”—Rob Anderson, Wildrose MLA at the Alberta Federation of Labour Conference in response to a question about the legal right to strike*

The Alberta Federation of Labour held a two day conference this weekend in Calgary. Ms Soapbox was extremely fortunate to receive an invitation to hear Rob Anderson (Wildrose), Deron Bilous (NDP) and Dr David Swann (Liberal) speak at a panel on “Alberta Political Parties’ Vision for Labour and Working People.”

Mr Anderson

Apparently, the Progressive Conservatives were also invited but Premier Hancock was busy and none of the (Read more…)

Peace, order and good government, eh?: The Wildrose Alliance: An Example Of Alberta Centrism

In 2012, it seemed as though Alberta’s long-running Progressive Conservative dynasty was finished. The Wildrose Alliance party, led by Danielle Smith, was set to form government.

Hence it was all the more shocking that the Wildrose lost the election.

In the aftermath of the election, Danielle Smith said that her party needed to do some “soul-searching” in regards to policies that were rejected by Albertans. Over the next two years, the Wildrose would begin moderating its political positions. It came out in support of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and denouncing intolerance against gays, even as it dumped other ideas such (Read more…) - Alberta politics: Three more PC MLAs throw their support behind Jim Prentice

TweetBy: Scooter M. Rock Political reporter with the Calgary Gazette Tribune: CALGARY- More than twenty MLAs have now pledged their support to former federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice’s campaign to become leader of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party. Rita Donnelly-McIntyre, Tory MLA for Calgary-Sunny Hills and Associate Minister of Social Media tweeted her support this morning, “@JimPrentice […] - Alberta politics: Is the Jim Prentice Juggernaut unstoppable?

TweetHe is a leadership candidate backed by long-governing party establishment. He has chased away his potential rivals. He has experience in both the federal cabinet and the corporate sector. He is a respected party insider. He has a track record as a moderate conservative and can raise significant amounts of money for his party. The […]

The Scott Ross: Success Defeated Alison Redford

Alison Redford was defeated because her party is too successful. And there’s proof.

In politics there wouldn’t be many opportunities to test such a theory; to really know if it was the success of Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives that caused Redford to resign. Luckily for this experiment there just happens to be a control group next door, it even comes with its own Alison Redford.

BC’s Christy Clark has a lot in common with Redford. Both were seen as outsiders. Both ran for leadership with little caucus support, each having only one other MLA supporting them. Both became leader of a (Read more…) Liberals triple support in Lethbridge: Liberals at 24%, NDP at 14%, Conservatives at 38%

Something is happening in Lethbridge. According to a group out of Lethbridge College the Liberals under Trudeau have jumped from 8.38% (2011) to 24% for the area of Lethbridge. Provincially, Raj Sherman’s Liberals have jumped from 14.7% (2012) to 18% in Lethbridge-East, a point ahead of the Wildrose and the clear alternative compared to the […]

Susan on the Soapbox: A “Two Minute Tory” Spends an Evening with Ted Morton

Ted Morton, the former Finance Minister and unsuccessful PC leadership candidate, was holding court at the Manning Foundation. He was going to give a speech on how a bunch of lefty carpet baggers (aka the “Two Minute Tories”) hijacked the PC leadership selection process to the enduring detriment of the Blue Tories.

The party faithful clustered around him to exchange pleasantries. Ms Soapbox worked her way to the front of the line and introduced herself as a Two Minute Tory who’d made the unfortunate mistake of voting for Ms Redford in the last PC leadership race.

Ted Morton

(Read more…) PC MLA Caught in Prostitution Sting Operation

Resigning from the Conservative caucus today Ft. McMurray MLA Mike Allen now sits as a independent in the legislature after being arrested in Minnesota due to being caught in a prostitution sting. According to the Edmonton Journal he approached two undercover police officers and agreed to exchange money for sexual services. He now joins Edmonton-Manning [...]

Susan on the Soapbox: Conrad Black and Danielle Smith

Conrad Black, the Canadian media mogul and convicted felon* was in Calgary last week to have a “conversation” with the Calgary business elite (and me) over lunch at the Calgary Petroleum Club.

The big question is why does Baron Black of Crossharbour—oh let’s just call him Conrad—continue to draw sell-out crowds. By the end of lunch and the exchange between Conrad and Ms Danielle Smith, the leader of the Opposition, I had my answer.

Before we go there, let’s set the stage. The Petroleum Club dining room is, as you would imagine, an upscale venue. Tables filled (Read more…)

Susan on the Soapbox: Ms Soapbox’s Great Adventure—Off to the Leg (it rhymes with “edge”)

Last week Ms Soapbox was introduced to the Legislative Assembly by Liberal MLA, Laurie Blakeman, the oldest (as in longest-serving, not age!) opposition MLA. Ms Blakeman noted that Ms Soapbox was a lawyer but said the House wouldn’t hold that against her. Ms Soapbox stood to receive the “traditional warm welcome” of the Assembly. The MLAs thumped their desks and waved, warming the cockles of Ms Soapbox’s heart!

The Caucus Meeting

When Liberal MLA, Dr David Swann, invited me to attend a Liberal caucus meeting I leapt at the chance. In less than 10 minutes

. . . → Read More: Susan on the Soapbox: Ms Soapbox’s Great Adventure—Off to the Leg (it rhymes with “edge”) Alberta In Open Revolt

Allison Redford has a problem. Between mayor Mandel unleashing his fury on her government and the University of Alberta’s rage at the province’s letters of expectation progressives across the province are finally coming to see that Redford is simply not on their side. For the Liberals who saw that supporting the Progressive Conservatives preferable to [...]

Susan on the Soapbox: The Price of Justice in Alberta: One Free Crime

On March 17, 2013, Alison Redford’s PC government broke the back of justice…and none of us saw it coming.

Lady Justice, or Justitia, is the personification of the justice system. Her blindfold symbolizes objectivity, her scales symbolize the balance between truth and fairness and her double-edged sword demonstrates that reason and justice that can be wielded for or against a party.

But this isn’t enough for Ms Redford and her justice minister, Mr Denis. They’ve saddled Justitia with a new prop—an empty sack—which the goddess must now fill with money. The only way Justitia can fill the

. . . → Read More: Susan on the Soapbox: The Price of Justice in Alberta: One Free Crime Alberta Politics: “21 per cent of all respondents were undecided.”

21% of Albertans, according to a Leger poll, are undecided as to who they would support in an election. So who is going to convert these 1 in 5 Albertans? It’s not the Wildrose. They’re a known quantity, for good or ill. Nor will it be the Progressive Conservatives, racked by scandal and ebbing in the polls [...] 2013 is the Alberta Liberal’s year to shine

  The Alberta Liberals are under attack. The Liberals are being assailed from every party from every corner of this province. The march to the middle has been of pronounced presence by almost every political faction in Alberta. The NDP have made open moves toward Liberal voters, campaigning hard in long held seats like Edmonton-Gold Bar and [...] Calgary-Centre: The Day After

It has been a wonder of a campaign. For the Harvey Locke campaign the Liberals doubled their support from 2011 (going from 17% to 32%) and sent a message that Calgarians were willing to give the Liberals a crack at representing them. It was a 4% spread… . . . → Read More: Calgary-Centre: The Day After

In This Corner: Is government borrowing really that bad?

I’m not an economist, and I don’t play one on TV. With that in mind, perhaps somebody out there can tell me why it’s such a crime to borrow money to build schools, or roads, or hospitals? The big stink over the weekend, one that is sure to hit odiferous heights when the legislature resumes, [...] . . . → Read More: In This Corner: Is government borrowing really that bad? Creating Winning Conditions for 2016

There are several things that need to be done for a Liberal government in 2016 in the province of Alberta. It’s a trifecta of issues and all, ultimately, comes back to building a connection with our different communities in Alberta. The main three issues are that there are material deficits in the party, firstly; secondly, [...] End of an Era: ex-Premier Peter Lougheed Dies

Peter Lougheed (1928-2012) died on September 13th. After decades of service to the public, heart problems and, coupled with pneumonia, he died at the Peter Lougheed hospital. His family has reported to the Calgary Sun that they’re being overwhelmed by well-wishers and those sorry for their loss. Don Braid of the Edmonton Journal writes a fantastic [...]

David Climenhaga's Alberta Diary: Lee Richardson: Alberta Ambassador to the Mulcair Government? Or what?

Alberta Premier Alison Redford speaks with Principal Secretary Lee Richardson while Chief of Staff Farouk Adatia looks on. Alberta officials, elected and not so elected, may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Mr. Richardson and Mr. Adatia.

So what exactly is a principal secretary, anyway? And why does Alberta Premier Alison Redford need one? I mean, really, didn’t she just appoint a chief of staff? How is this principal secretary thingy she’s just hired different from the chief of staff she’s just appointed? Who is the boss of whom?Questions, questions…

Hold it, let’s roll the tape back to last

. . . → Read More: David Climenhaga’s Alberta Diary: Lee Richardson: Alberta Ambassador to the Mulcair Government? Or what?