Friday, October 29, 2004

Severely Teflon

Ralph Klein has moved on from the homeless to the disabled. Yes, that's right. The Premier of Alberta is now going after disabled people
...during an election campaign.

Let that sink in.

For those who have ignored Alberta politics for the past few years, I first offer my congratulations - you're as good as people who manage to stay away from reality TV. However our political scene has become more ridiculous than the latest round of wife swapping shows. To recap, Ralph has assault homeless people in a drunken fit of rage, plagiarized an essay, gone insane with an opposition MLA who dared ask him to provide receipts for a trip, shouted at reporters, told ranchers to "shoot, shovel and shut up", and left a health summit to go gambling. And yet, none of it will stick.

The Liberal party is trying to avoid attacking Klein. Personal stuff like drinking and his illegitimate children are off the table and they'll only hint at gambling. Fair enough. But even on issues where they have the full authority to attack Ralph on, they shy away, fearing he's too popular. I know it's a lot harder to attack someone people have had ten years to grow comfortable with than a relative newcomer like Stephen Harper, but isn't the moral of the federal election that going negative works? If I were Kevin Taft, I would be viciously going after Klein at every opportunity.

Monday, October 25, 2004

And They're Off!

Tomorrow, Ralph will drop the write in what figures to be a very ho-hum election in Alberta. The thing is, Albertans change government once a generation and I'm not talking about Paul Martin's "a generation is 6 years long" generations either. There have been 3 government changes in this province's history and we're not going to get one this time out.

But even though this will be a fairly non-eventful election, I'm going to try and focus this blog on the contest for the next month. So I'll shut up about Sheila and Don Cherry for the next 28 days and try and focus on this incredibly boring election.

One reason this election is worth following if you're a Liberal in Alberta is that the provincial party is on the way up. Of course, when you have 7 seats, there's only one way to go. So here are some reasons for optimism:

1. Klein's bored: His heart won't be in this campaign.

2. Klein's past his prime: His melt-down with Laurie Blakeman earlier this year looked bad. His essay plagiarism would have hurt any other politician in Canada. He's snapping at the media. Add it all up and a lot of columnists have been comparing him to *gasp* the federal Liberals for his aimless drifting and arrogance.

3. Gary Marr's friends

4. The Alberta Alliance: They're polling at 10% right now. Of course, that's all in cattle country. But if they can get up to 10% in Edmonton or Calgary, watch out. They take votes away from the Tories which will help the Libs and NDP.

5. NDP is, well, the NDP: Don won't want me to say it, but the NDP isn't any better off than they were last election. And they won 2 seats last election. I can't see them doing much better and the less votes they get, the more the Grits get (and the Greens...let's not forget they polled in at 6% in AB last federal election).

6. The Doctor is in: Kevin Taft may not have the common man charisma of Klein but he's a bright guy. And he's not afraid to go after Klein. Ken Nicol would usually criticize Klein in the legislature by saying "I agree with 7 of your 8 points Ralph but I have a slight problem with the wording on that last point...". Taft will take Klein on.

7. Candidates: I'm not sure about Edmonton, but in Calgary, they've got a couple solid candidates. Dave Taylor and David Swann could both win their ridings.

8. Only one way to go: Nancy MacBeth was a disaster. This campaign can't go any worse than that.

Add it up and, things are looking up. Not way up, but up none the less. As for predictions...

Conservatives 64
Liberals 16
Alliance 1

Saturday, October 23, 2004

A Great Idea

Give the CBC credit. As impossible as it sounds, the CBC has what is now the hippest water cooler show in Canada with their Greatest Canadian series. Everyone is weighing in with their opinion, arguing the choices and debating the whole concept of the show. Why is it a success? Because they decided to avoid the typical PC CBC thing which would have been to have a panel of "experts" select the top 50 Canadians, making sure to have enough females, aboriginals, artists and francophones. Instead we get a mix of mind bogglingly stupid choices (Shania Twain is the greatest female Canadian ever...and Ed Belfour cracked the top 100) and some truly deserving people who I'm shocked anyone knew about, much less voted for. The fact that Sir Stanford Fleming beat out Avril Lavigne is actually quite surprising if you think about it, as is the fact Tecumseh beat Mario Lemieux or that the unknown soldier made the list. Since the CBC didn't censor the choices, we get a very interesting mix which makes the show both frustrating and educational...and extremely debatable. So full marks to the CBC.

That said, Don Cherry cracking the top 10 is shocking. Off the top of my head, Canadians who didn't make the top 100 who you could make a case for as being "greater" than Don include: Louis St. Laurent, Brian Mulroney, Ben Mulroney, Justin Trudeau, Shirley Douglas, Donald Sutherland, Kiefer Sutherland, Red Green, Tom Green, Casey, Finnigan, Ross Rebagliati, Perditia Felicien, the little blue cow, my barber, Preston Manning's barber, the guy who makes sure Ralph Klein doesn't go into public after drinking...the list goes on and on.

For what it's worth, my own top 10 list would be as follows:

1. Pierre Trudeau
2. Terry Fox
3. Frederick Banting
4. Wayne Gretzky
5. Wilfrid Laurier
6. Tommy Douglas
7. Lester B Pearson
8. Margaret Atwood
9. Marshal McLuhan
10. Jean Chretien

OK, so sue me for my bias...

Honourable mention to: John A. MacDonald, Robert Borden, Mackenzie King, Rocket Richard, James Naismith, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Karen Kane, Billy Bishop, Nellie McClung, John Molson, George Etiene Cartier, Stephen Lewis and Jean Vanier. And Stockwell Day. Of course.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Not Paul's Baby

This is gonna be a
fun book to read, eh? Sheila Copps has come out swinging with a series of accusations against the current Prime Minister: He wanted to scrap the Canada Health Act, privatize the CBC and send our troops to Iraq.

Now, obviously these accusations come from a person who is not a big fan of the PM and must be taken with a grain (or a giant heaping) of salt. However, I don't think the accusations are so shocking that they can be dismissed outright. After seeing the Health Deal's weak accountability standards and Martin's decentralizing tendencies, it's not overly shocking that he'd want to replace the Canada Health Act with something less binding. We saw Pettigrew dismiss the Health Act last year and Martin hasn't lifted a finger to stop private clinics from operating in Quebec despite his tough words in the last election.

The Iraq "revelation" shouldn't even be considered a revelation. It's been hinted by dozens of journalists that Martin was pro-war at the time. Paul Wells mentioned a few months about how Martin's advisors lectured him on Chretien's "wrong" decision to keep Canada out of Iraq. Several writers and people close to the scene have hinted likewise. Warren basically said as much in his blog today. And if you think it's just Martin's detractors who believe this, go back and try to find a single word Martin spoke against the war back in 2003. I'll be the first to concede that John Manley and many others in the Liberal caucus would have sent our troops to Iraq but it's abundantly clear Martin would have done the same. We didn't need Sheila to tell us this.

All of this just goes to show how ridiculous last spring's campaign was. Very reminiscent of John Turner's death bed conversion to nationalism in '88. But if these revelations are true, it shows just how disingenuous the entire Liberal campaign was (throw in the "surprise" surplus). Of course, like the revelations in this book, that's not much of a revelation, is it?

Friday, October 15, 2004


What the hell is John Cabot doing on the list of "Greatest Canadians" at the CBC site?

(Notice how I refused to make a snarky comment about the value of Brian Mulroney's name being on this list? Or how one of the "50 Greatest World Leaders", Kim Campbell, failled to make it on.)

A Bunch of Balls

The big “shocker” out of Adscam this week (which reminds me, whose great idea was it to set up this Judicial Inquiry?) is…are you ready for it…golf balls! Yes, apparently, Chretien used a few Adscam golf balls. This has, of course, drawn howls of protest. Among a few that is. For most people, this entire scandal has gotten to the point where it just draws a yawn. And rightfully so.

I mean, golf balls? Is this the worst they can do? Politicians use the government bank account for far more costly things: dinners, jet flights (for “political events”), the list goes on and on. The fact that the PM may have gotten a few freebies (and I don’t think that link has even been proven…just that they were used at an event he was at) is trivial. You’re telling me that CEOs don’t use company funds to get free jackets, sweaters, etc? That employees don’t use a company photocopier for private purposes?

The problem with putting trivial non-stories like this on the front page is that people are going to lose any interest in this story they had so that if something important does come out, no one will raise an eyebrow over it.

Golf ball? Shesh.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Who Judges the Judges?

A very perceptive reader sent me in these two articles that deserve a bit of attention. First up, a bio of Madame Gomery who is doing quite well for herself at Ogilvy Renault, a fine and respectable law firm.

Second up, is an article on the Gomery Witchhun...err, Inquiry. Here's the interesting paragraph:

Contrairement au comité d'enquête sur les comptes publics, les membres de la commission Gomery ne sont pas des élus. C'est Bernard Roy, de la firme d'avocats Ogilvy Renaud, qui agira comme procureur en chef de la commission.

If you're French is a little weak, it's basically saying that the members of the commission are appointed and...Ogilvy Renault got a nice position. Now, I'm sure this is all one big coincidence, right? Surely those judging "friendly firm" contracts would not give out friendly contracts, right? Right?

Friday, October 08, 2004

Lost Opportunities

Does anyone for a second doubt that had the government fallen yesterday, the Liberals wouldn’t have returned with a healthy majority? The Conservatives supporting a Bloc motion on provincial powers which most provinces opposed? How couldn’t the Liberals parlay that into a win? Especially with the public wanting a majority after seeing the disaster of this minority parliament.

Of course, they’d have to make it look un-intentional. But they don’t fly their MP in and maybe find one or two others who got “family emergencies” and suddenly, they lose by a vote. There’d be some huffing and puffing and a slim chance Harper would become PM. But even if Harper took over, the optics of him forming a quasi-coalition with the Bloc would have been so bad to ensure he’d never win again.

All the parties did the right thing by reaching a compromise but the Liberals may have missed a golden opportunity. Better to be defeated on a motion by a separatist government than to let Harper pick an issue the Liberals look weak on at some time in the future.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Halloween Comes Early

Yet another article on the impending fall of the government. Does anyone want to take a guess how many times we'll hear about these before the government actually does fall? I'm guessing a good dozen, at the very least.

I'd assume the Tories aren't dumb enough to go to the polls on a Bloc motion, or to work in coalition with the Bloc. But, then again, it would absolutely hilarious to see Martin campaign on a strong federal government so I'm kind of hoping this motion does go down tonight.

Welcome to the fun world of minority governments!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Baghdad


Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Good Grief

The Calgary SunSun
03 Oct 2004
Page: 25
Section: Editorial/Opinion
Column: Alberta View

Possibly the most significant date in the history of Alberta will fall within a year after Nov. 22. That's the date of the provincial election.

Some time after that, the Martin government will announce the New National Energy Program, the purpose of which will be to commandeer Alberta's natural resource revenues and convey them to Eastern Canada generally and to Quebec in particular.

This is not a possibility.

I think we should consider it a dead certainty.

I also believe it imposes on every Albertan a single decision.

When the Martin government proposes this, will we vote to separate from Canada?

I'm sorry if I gave the impression that Ralph Klein is out of touch with reality in my last post. Compared to Link Byfield, Ralph is pretty well grounded. On the one hand, I suppose it's fair for the Tories and their minions to use scare tactics of an Ottawa NEP to win the election since Martin used scare tactics of the evil Alberta monster to win his election.

But Byfield isn't even posturing here...he seems to have had daily chats with David Herle to reveal the entire nefarious plot.

However, all this talk of "raiding" Alberta's wealth raises a very good question: Why shouldn't Canada? Just because it was decided many, many years ago that natural resources were a provincial responsibility. That's the only reason there is. Alberta's been blessed with huge oil reserves and I don't see a good reason not to share the wealth with the rest of the country. It wasn't good government, or Albertan igenuity, or Albertan foresight which created these oil reserves...we just got lucky here. Yeah, there would be a riot, but I don't see any reason, other than provincial jurisdiction, for the federal government not to find a clever way to siphon off some of the oil dollars to the rest of the country.

If A, then B...

EDMONTON -- Health care and education top the wish list that Albertans have sent the provincial government in the "It's Your Future" survey, said Finance Minister Pat Nelson on Sunday.

Nelson told CBC radio host Rex Murphy on the Cross Country Checkup program that more than 250,000 Albertans have responded to the survey.

Tax cuts trail both health and education in public priorities, she said.

"We haven't done the full analysis on it, so those are pretty premature numbers," said the minister. "But Albertans are pretty solid people and I have a lot of faith in their wisdom."
The overall message of the survey, she said, is "don't go crazy, don't go running up debt."
The provincial government launched the mail-in survey in August to ask citizens their priorities now that the province is nearly debt-free.

OK. The survey (which was a stupid, waste of money in the first place) found that Albertans put Health Care and Education as their top priorities. Good for Albertans! Despite all the rhetoric about tax cuts and legacy funds, I think this shows that Albertans have pretty good common sense.

Yet, Pat Nelson says that this shows the Tories shouldn't "go crazy running up debt". WTF? The survey shows that Albertans want more spending in two key areas and she's going to try and spin this as a not wanting more spending? Am I missing something here?

Ralph Klein is so out of touch with reality that it's scary at times.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Notes from here and there

-Paul Wells beat me to the punch on this one. This government is trying as hard as it can to not make history. We've had almost every provincial Supreme Court favour gay marriage, what else does Paul want? He already stalled the Supreme Court reference so that it wouldn't be an election issue and awkwardly skated through the campaign, never once stating his personal view on the issue (the courts have spoken). Chretien and Cauchon did everything possible to stack committees and rally members on-side for the Conservative motion in the house but Paul wants nothing to do with it. My guess, the guy is personally opposed to it and genuinely doesn't want to talk about the issue at all.

-The provincial election in Alberta is fast approaching with a November 22nd or 29th vote. I'll post something soon on why I see the Liberals on the way up (but, I mean, let's be realistic, up to feeble opposition status, not the government or anything). For now, I'll say that they have three seats they could win in Calgary. Dave Taylor, a local radio host, is running in a riding where the Tory polls apparently show the Liberals in front. David Swan, who was fired from his job after saying the Kyoto accord might not be such a bad thing has a good chance too and then there's always Calgary Buffalo, which the Liberals held up until the last election.

-Give Kerry round one of the debates. Not because he looked particularity good (for the love of God, just say the Iraq war was BAD!!!) but because Bush looked like a stumbling buffoon. He had some good lines written by his writers but the delivery was really awkward and he just didn't seem in it. And since it was two separate campaign speeches as supposed to a debate, he should have won.

-This is sad. More history than either the Nordiques or the Jets. It's beyond me why Canada can't hang on to its sports franchises.