Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A little of this and a little of that: My late take on the Wildrose loss.

It is a day late but here is my take on what the hell happened on Monday in Alberta vote.

The Wildrose lost. < true.

The 'pundits' lost. < 99% of them did anyway. 

The pollsters lost. < not really. The polls showed tightening and the trend lines were there. The number didn't lie, but pollsters like to go into interpreting those numbers, it is their job right?, rather than just producing the data, and in this they ALL got it wrong.

The MSM lost. < true. See above on the pollsters.
The Albertaardvark lost. < true. I got sucked into believing the numbers as much as the next guy.

Strategic voting worked. < partly.

The fear campaign worked. < yes it did, but it wasn't enough to cause the loss on its own.

The power of incumbency.  < Huge contributing factor. see below of lack of experience.

The PC's won. < that depends on what your definition of 'won' is.

Lack of experience of the Wildrose. < another huge factor that IMHO was the determining factor with the demographic known as the 'undecided' voter who made the decision most likely last weekend or at the ballot box.  I am sure many saw the fear mongering for what it was, a political ploy to drive wedges between Albertans, but it left that seed of doubt, and with the lack of experience/familiarity with the Wildrose, many went with the incumbent devil they know and have been voting for for 41 years.

Bumper stickers that read: "Don't blame me. I voted Wildrose" < might turn out to be a great investment.*

The loss will make Danielle Smith a stronger leader and a better premier. < true. FTR: Dean called the election outcome a month ago.

"I am having a muffin. Sorry, I thought I was on Twitter". < from a brilliant video commentary that nails the fear campaign as the ploy it was.

Alberta won. < Yet to be determined, but I have already seen signs to the contrary from the PC's showing that they haven't learned a thing. (That they won with their great campaign and the collapse of the Wildrose had nothing to do with the result. This arrogance does not bode well)

*If you are getting financial advice from a political blog written by someone who still has 3 boxes of  "Team Lou" t-shirts in PC orange and blue to unload, you might be better of using that money for some professional help.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

After 41 years Alberta is poised for much needed change.

We don't change governments often in Alberta but when we do, we do it in a decisive dramatic fashion.

Election day is Monday and for the first time that I can remember, I would say my life but I was a born a Social Credit baby, Alberta is poised to make that change, and in my opinion it is long over due.

I could literally post 100's of reasons/links as to why the PC's, both before and under Redford, do not deserve to be rewarded with our votes and returned to government, but I think most everyone reading this already knows the truth about the PCAA record , be they PC supporters or not.

But it goes well beyond that.

Some time in the last 41 years the PC's have lost sight of the line between political party and government. They have treated our government as some type of fiefdom where their friends and allies get  rewarded with lucrative contracts, sometimes for doing little or nothing, and appointments to the many boards, agencies, bureaus, and offices throughout the system. Gary Mar, Kelley Charlebois, and even Ken Hughes names quickly come to mind but there have been 1000's of them made over the years with cronyism being the tool used by the PC's to stack our bureaucracy.

Making matters worse, the PC's have developed an arrogance and lack of accountability that rivals that of the federal Liberals under Chretien or Martin. Be it the callous nature that they treated the revelations of 50+ cases of the PC's receiving illegal donations and the law Redford passed as Justice Minister that forbids Albertans from EVER finding out the findings of Elections Alberta, to the way Redford handled the no-meet committee, the healthcare inquiry,HQCA recommendations, Mar etc, the PC's have shown that they really don't care what the people of Alberta think or want.

Alberta desperately needs to clean house and have start fresh. We have to elect a different party to takeover the reigns of power and do some serious house cleaning within the system and to the laws governing that system. It is our government and it is time that is was working for us and not the political party that ran it for 41 consecutive years. Power does corrupt and every once in a while this has to be done for not only the good of the government but also for the good of the party that has lost its way; and I am sorry to say this but the Alberta Progressive Conservatives have indeed lost their way and like with the federal Liberals they are in dire need of a good kick in the ass from the voters to knock them down a peg and shake things up if they want to salvage what is left of the once proud PC party.

To paraphrase the late Jack Layton: The Progressive Conservative Party is going into the repair shop for a while to work through its ethical, accountability, and arrogance issues, so it can figure out what it's about. They're going to be busy thinking about themselves, not you. Lend your vote to the party that will keep Alberta and our economy moving, one that will put Albertans first while the PC's take the much needed time to reflect on what the party stands for and who they are; vote Wildrose! The only conservative option.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The PC strategy: Avoid talking record/policy at all costs and smear the Wildrose.

The following YouTube video is 6 minutes and 30 seconds long and it is perhaps the best commentary available on the PC end game election strategy out there.

Excellent work.

The only thing that I think is missing is some content on why most of the PC's fear/smears are in reality non issues, which is our laws and our Charter of rights.

The law is the law people, no government in the land could pass the type of legislation that the PCs are claiming that the Wildrose party would bring in if elected and that is just simple fact. It cannot happen, due to our already existing laws/Charter! 
I have had this discussion many times with the Wildrose haters on Twitter and have stopped them all in the tracks with the following question:

Be specific. Which 'conscience right' or 'legislation' would allow the government or a government employee, to ever violate Section 15.1 of the Charter of Rights and freedoms?

The answer is simple: there is none. It is impossible as the law is the law and anyone who claims to tell you otherwise is just trying to scare you.

And one would think, or at least hope, that a human right lawyer like Alison Redford would be fully aware of what our laws are and how they would apply. Perhaps she is too busy running that clean campaign that she promised numerous times to know that this has become an issue in the election, but somehow I really doubt that to be the case. She is fully aware of what is going on but is choosing to try and scare Albertans instead.

And that I do find to be scary.

Speaking of scary: The PC record.

Friday, April 20, 2012

On that Globe and Mail endorsement....

The Globe and Mail editorial board endorses Redford and The Albertaardvark editorial board calls bullshit.

Not on the endorsement itself because they can do what ever they like, on the BS that they use to justify it. It reads like someone in Toronto read a PC campaign pamphlet and wrote this up, with no idea of the reality on the ground in Alberta. As a blogger I would be embarrassed to post this kind if drivel and here is so much wrong that I don't know where to start; but instead of trying I might as well do little fisking since it's been awhile.

Globe and Mail italicized in blue
Ardvark editorial board comments in black

After four decades in power, their traditional base fractured by defections on the right, Alberta’s governing Progressive Conservatives suddenly find themselves underdogs in Monday’s election, trailing the Wildrose Party. There is a mood for change in Alberta. The question is, which party best represents change: The upstart Wildrose under leader Danielle Smith, with its populist brand of conservatism? Or, odd as it may sound, the Conservatives under Premier Alison Redford?

Yes, there is mood for change in Alberta but is not just change for changes sake, which in itself is never a bad thing with any government in power for long periods of time, it is because the PC's have been a bad government and their record has been terrible, including the disastrous 6 months under Redford. Redford isn't change, or at least real change.They are just as inept and secretive as they have always been and one has to look no further than the Gary Mar situation or how she handled the no-meet committee situation.

The answer is surprising. As a change agent, Wildrose is remarkably change-averse.

Yes, a party less than 5 years old with a fresh vibrant leader and new ideas is not change. Got it. Thanks G&M.

The party shows no leadership with regard to Alberta’s critical oil-sands industry. Its main policy document barely mentions the oil sands (and then only to complain about public funding for two “anti-oil-sands documentaries”). Ms. Redford, by contrast, is more positive; her Canadian Energy Strategy would facilitate the shipment of oil-sands oil to Asia, the U.S. and Central Canada; she also promises to help fund oil-sands extraction technology. 

For the record the Wildrose green policy book has 10 pages dealing with energy/resources while the PC's has 2, but that is a side issue; this is Alberta. Energy is tied into almost everything that we do here in one way or another, to claim the Wildrose has no ideas or has shown no leadership on this issue is asinine. As for Redford's NEP lite, getting our oil to other markets is not exactly a new idea and her promise to fund that technology comes at a cost of 3 billion dollars that was not in her 2012 budget.

In health care, the Conservatives are also more constructive and imaginative. They promise 140 family care clinics, where not only doctors, but nurses can provide services, an innovation that will relieve the pressure on emergency wards. They also talk about “fast-track” emergency rooms, where obvious ailments will be diverted for quick treatment. In response, Wildrose promises wait-time guarantees, failing which the procedures will be done out of province or in private facilities – sort of a hangman’s approach to health care. 

After reading this paragraph it was clear that the Globe and Mail had no clue as to what is going on out here if they are using the clinics and 'fast track' promises as a selling point for Redford. The clinic idea was announced by Redford last month BEFORE the election call and was only to be 3 clinics in a pilot project to see how the idea would work. Fast forward 1 month later and before any of the 3 opened their doors or could have possibly be evaluated, it has morphed into 140 and will radically alter health care in this province in spite of a direct promise from Redford to follow "all 21 recommendations" of the HQCA. BTW the main recommendation was:  'that the government undertake no further major re-structuring of the health-care system without a clear rationale, a transition plan and consultation'; which is just one reason why the Alberta Medical Association is against Redford's 140 clinics. You would think that the Globe and Mail might just mention that Alberta's doctors are against this but why ruin an agenda with silly facts like this or that Alberta has not only a doctor shortage but a nursing one as well, so who is going to staff these 140 clinics, or how much will they come up with the 700 million that these would cost? I am aware that the PC's claim that they will cost us nothing as they will reallocate existing health care money to the clinics but that leaves out the big question as to what they will cut in order to find that 700 million. As for the fast track idea, well that was written off almost as soon as it was announced because it is essentially what our hospitals are already doing. That days biggest joke was that Redford invented 'triage' but it really is no laughing matter as the head of emergency medicine said of Redford fast track plan "so out of touch it's startling"

Clearly, these policies do not account for the surge in Wildrose support. This is a party that failed to elect a single MLA in the 2008 election. Now, polls suggest it will form the next government. So what, then, is behind its rise? 

In 2008 Albertans were foolish enough to believe the PC's and the change from within that they promised would occur with that fresh new leader Ed Stelmach. It is the same promise again from the PC's with Redford but this time Albertans are not buying it. BTW which Wildrose polices is the G&M referring to? If mentioned they were glossed over or dismissed outright yet the G&M "Clearly" claim that they could not possibly account for the raise in support. It is a cheap blogger trick and should be beneath the G&M but yet clearly wasn't.

Some of it may relate to its adoption of “Alberta first” or “firewall” rhetoric. Despite Alberta’s enormous, and growing, economic might in Canada, and its considerable political influence nationally – with a Conservative government led by a Calgary MP – Wildrose has still found fertile ground with the insular little Alberta narrative.

 I guess endorsing Redford also means that the G&M also gets to use the PC fear mongering too; "firewall"? There is no firewall mentioned ANYWHERE in any Wildrose policy, that is the same stuff that the Liberals and Toronto media have been trotting out for years to scare people about PM Harper. Stay classy G&M. If looking at the feasibility of a provincial pension plan or police force is a firewall, which is where this smear came from, than I think the G&M had better look a lot closer to home because both Ontario and Quebec have their own provincial police force, and Quebec it own pension plan.   How 'insular" is that?

But Wildrose’s growth began, not coincidentally, when the province was hit hard by falling energy prices in 2008-9. Government spending had jumped, public sector pay greatly outpacing the rest of the country. Then, the Alberta government saw a projected $8.5-billion surplus evaporate, and instead posted a $1.4-billion deficit. The government responded to the recession by joining the worldwide consensus in favour of stimulative spending. 

The timing may be correct for the start of the, 2008-09 but they fail to mention the numerous other issues that many people had at that time with the government Ed Stelmach, oil royalties, the 30% pay raise, land use laws, and a gov't that appeared to run out of ideas.

The Conservative record on fiscal policy, then, is the central issue in the current campaign. 

Thanks Toronto for telling Alberta what the "central" issue of the campaign "is" and get it completely wrong. How did Alberta ever make it this far without you. Oh and I would say it is the incompetence, arrogance and abandonment of anything remotely conservative by the present government that is the issue; fiscal policy is part of that but hardly the 'central issue'.

Wildrose has been campaigning with a “debt clock” and has launched fierce rhetorical attacks over Conservative “mismanagement.” Its leader, Ms. Smith, is an effective communicator and a fresh face, but there’s little fresh in Wildrose’s response on fiscal policy; many of its ideas come from the halcyon era of King Ralph. In the 1990s, Progressive Conservative premier Ralph Klein was a leader among Canada’s first ministers in deficit reduction. His government introduced balanced budget legislation in 1995. By 2004, he was able to announce that Alberta was “debt-free” and, awash with energy royalties, his government awarded Albertans a $400 “prosperity bonus” (popularly known as “Ralph bucks”). 

Imagine that, Albertans happy with a government that does not spend more money than it has. Pure insanity! (you have to remember the G&M is from Ontario and the concept is totally foreign to them out there. They did did endorse McGuinty after all) Also notice how they mention that Ralph passed balanced budget legislation but fail to mention how Stelmach, with Redford in his cabinet, rescinded that law?

For its part, Wildrose promises to restore the balanced budget legislation, and – yes – to pay Albertans energy dividends, now called “Dani dollars.” The party projects these payments as totalling $12,000 for an Alberta family of four over the next eight years. As for Alison Redford, she has been the Premier for only six months, but is answerable for one budget, which saw nearly every ministry receive increases; health-care spending went up by 7 per cent. More restraint should have been shown. 

They get something correct, more restraint should have been shown but this gov't cannot seem to cut anything, ever.

Even with such increases, defended as necessary in a province that leads the country in population growth, the Conservative budget still projects Alberta’s deficit will be eliminated in 2013-14, with a $5.2-billion surplus in 2014-15. This will be achieved without any new taxes, or even any user fee increases. Instead, Alberta will accomplish it from an expanding tax base through population increases and resource royalties expected to nearly double from 2011-15.

 We lead in per capita spending, even with that population growth, but do not lead in results/value for money. We have heard the deficit promises before and the reality is that the PC's have not lived up to them. The Stelmach gov't promised that we would ALREADY be out of deficit and "back in the black before the Redford budget was even written, and the promise of a 400 million surplus by next year has been blown out of the water with Redford's 7 billion dollars in un-budgeted election spending promises. As for the numerous claims about no tax increases, that has also proven to be nothing but a lie as the education portion of our property taxes has already been increased

The Conservatives have signalled their intent to save more, not just by replenishing the rainy day Sustainability Fund that was used to maintain Alberta’s debt-free status, but possibly also to build up the Heritage Fund. As a TD analysis of the budget put it, “having to make a choice between saving for tomorrow or spending today is a challenge that other provinces in Canada could only dream of.”
Wildrose’s message of change, then, is concerned less with what Alberta can be, than with what Alberta was. It is a political response to a fiscal dilemma that has all the trappings of a failure of confidence. Canada needs Alberta to step up, not step back. The Conservatives have ruled for a very long time, but they have a new leader and are the party that speaks for the best kind of change. It is time for a big Alberta on the national stage. 

Yes Redford did more than signal an intent to put more money into those funds she made a promise. A forgotten one because if she was to put the promised 4-5 billion dollars/year into the Heritage and Sustainability funds, how would a 5 billion dollar surplus be possible in 2014-15 as she has also promised? It can't be both, unless you are the G&M and then anything Redford says is gospel even if reality says otherwise. The next part of this paragraph again goes into the big bag of PC rhetoric and pulls out the loaded terms 'can be' vs 'was', 'step up' or 'step back' as if there really was a time machine that could take us back. The reality is there is ONLY the future and if that future is a choice between the fiscal responsibility of Klein vs the incompetence of a McGuinty (who the Globe and Mail also endorsed) than I think the majority of people would go with Klein way.  BTW the WIldrose promises not only balanced budgets and also contributing to both the sustainability and Heritage Trust funds but also a surplus as well. More inconvenient truths left out of the Globe and Mail fluff piece endorsement of the tired PC government and Redford. 

It is clear that the Globe and Mail are not the biggest fans of the Wildrose, in fact they were forced to change 2 very misleading headlines ( which they did without ever acknowledging the changes or their bias error), and  I get that coming from a Toronto paper, but shouldn't Canada's so called "paper of record" at least make the effort to provide its readers with the facts rather than just crib from the PC Alberta website? I know as a blogger I would be embarrassed to publish this void of reality nonsense.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dear Alberta PC's: You used to be cool and conservative. What happened?

Dear Alberta PC's:

You used to be cool and conservative. What happened?

A long time ago a young Peter Lougheed ran against the big government and the nanny like laws of the old tired Social Credit, you represented change and you meant it. You lowered the legal drinking age to 18 and trusted that Albertans could handle the responsibility. Today you have become a clone of that tired SC government you defeated by passing nanny state law such a Bill 26 which will allow the police to become judge and jury by seizing private property at the side of the road without due process and any effective right to appeal for doing something that is NOT even against the law. You told private business that they no longer had the right to determine the price at which to sell their own product by writing law setting a minimum price for that product rather than using numerous existing laws to deal with the perceived problem.

You defended Alberta against a federal Liberal government with their National Energy Program as an intrusion into our affairs and defended our resources. Today Premier Redford is encouraging her own version of the NEP and goes so far as to publicly defend those who are trying to shut down our oil sands and fund films with the same purpose with our tax dollars.

You used to believe in the most basic of conservative principles of not spending more money than we brought in, you even went so far as to pass a law to make sure that government could no longer do so, but turned around and rescinded that law before giving us 5 deficit budget in a row with another to follow ( The surplus stated for 2013-2014 is calculated to be approx 1/2 billion dollars and in spite of Bill 1, the results based budgeting act, un-budgeted promises from Redford totaling in the billions all but ensure deficit number 6 is on the way.) And while we are in a deficit position had no qualms at all about running a pre-election tour and a trip to Jasper for the PC caucus on our dime or breaching legislature privilege by running budget ads before it was even passed.

You used to actually listen to Albertans but now it is more lip service than anything else even though in every speech you are always saying 'Albertans are telling us' or  'Albertans want' but seem to be tone deaf when Albertans do speak out and tell you that something is wrong as with the MLA and committee pay structure set up by your gov't. Only acting after having your backs forced against the wall and not at the beginning when Albertans so clearly expressed their outrage. You didn't listen to us when we said we wanted you to look at the bullying and intimidation of our doctors and you didn't even listen to the doctors or to the HQCA (which you promised to implement the 21 recommendations of their report) and went ahead radically changing the way healthcare is done by promising 140 family care clinics just weeks after announcing the 3 pilot projects which have not even opened their doors and could not have been studied for their effectiveness, breaking the promises made.

You used to be confident in your message and record, so much so that you never even used to name your opponents in an election and always took the high road. Today in-spite of numerous promises to do take the high road you went on the attack even before the election using lies and have went so far as to play the race  and the fear card about another party to try to distract from your poor record and save your self from losing power. You have more in common with the 2006 Liberal party than you do to any conservative one. What happened? You used to be proud of being conservative, not just in name only, and proud of your roots, but now you purchase full page newspaper ads attacking the party base and you go out of your way to attack one of the most popular premiers in our history at a time when he is unable to defend himself.  Not cool.

You used to honest and accountable but now I am having a hard time believing anything you say. You promised change but yet one of the first things you did was gave Gary Mar and Kelley Charlebois jobs, continuing the ol' boy tradition.( BTW how did that Mar thing work out for you?) From intimidation of doctors, school boards, and municipalities, to promises on a fixed election date, a full health inquirynot raising taxes, to passing law that hurts property owners and helps billion dollar power companies and law  gagging Elections Alberta from disclosing ANY information about the numerous cases (well over 50) of illegal donations to the PC party, you have broken your word and lying is never cool. In fact during the debate Premier Redford was caught in a blatant lie on removing the cap on seniors housing and stood before the entire province and said she did not use the words, which she clearly did, and we can no longer trust anything you say.

Alberta PC's, you used to be cool and conservative by believing in small/less government, not spending more money than you had, and standing up for free enterprise and the freedoms of Albertans. Now you just stand in the way.

What happened?

Feel free to look over the blog for many more examples of the actual record of the PC's. It is a real eye opener and a great primer heading into the election on Monday as the PC's have clearly turned their backs on not only conservatism but also good government.  They do not deserve your vote, we can do better than this.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The "Real Wildrose" Attack site: Is it the work of Sandra Jansen's campaign manager?

Politics in Alberta has taken a nasty turn of late as the floundering Progressive Conservatives led by Alison Redford having collapsed in polls lash out at Danielle Smith and the Wildrose; this after numerous claims by Redford, both before and during the election, that the PC's were going to take the high road and run a clean campaign.

It has become a campaign of smear and fear mongering with the target being the Wildrose, the only party that stands in the way of a another PC victory in Alberta, and numerous 'sock puppet' twitter accounts have appeared which have no purpose other than to lie, smear, spread fear, and even libel the Wildrose. One such twitter account is called "WiltedRose" and the average tweet reads similiar to the following made April 12 at 4:31

"@drryancarter @heather4mla she took a bribe ( & lied about it ( #wrp can not be trusted. #abvote"

Pure BS, probably libelous, and is just one of many tweets of similiar nature that have been posted from this account.

The profile page of "WiltedRose" provides no real information as to its author other than a link to a WordPress blog called "Real Wild Rose" which is much of the same fear mongering as the twitter account but providing the author more than 140 characters to do so.  Again there is no information openly listed on the blog as to its author, political affiliations (if any), or anything else of an identifiable nature.

Did you notice that I wrote the words "openly listed"?

Sandra Janson, she of CTV Newsnet fame, is running for the PC's in the riding of Calgary-North-West in what is sure to be a tough race if the polls are anywhere near accurate. Her campaign manager is a fellow named Piotr Pilarski, who already has quite the twitter presence of his own, and is well known in Alberta political circles having been part of both Redford's and Doug Griffiths' campaign for the PC leadership.

From the WordPress Blog "Real Wild Rose" / "The Party" / "WRP Weapons of war"/ comes a link to a Power Point file =  

Click on properties and what do you see...

Different browser, from page 1 of same PPT.

Could the ppilarski who "last modified" or "last saved" these pages be the same P Pilarski who manages Sandra Jansen's campaign? The one who Doug Griffiths said "really wanted a splashy campaign," when referring to his leadership run?

I don't know but  Pilarski did tweet on Thursday afternoon: "@TheInvisibleDan @Albertaardvark @wiltedroseparty not my blog guys, sorry. #abvote"  to a question asking if was his, but that was before the debate and before knowing that someone had found the name ppilarski attached to the attack site.

I guess I will have to ask him again, and also ask Sandra Jansen if she thinks these types of things are appropriate in a so called 'clean campaign.

Updated: Peter Pilarski responds in the comments:

Thanks Alberta Ardvark.

Like I’ve told you before, I can say with confidence that I did not create this blog. The document you question is something that was sent to me early in the year; I forwarded it to all the PCs I knew. After all, if you had your opponents strategy wouldn’t you do the same? The document I have sent has hit hundreds of inboxes since January (the date in which your screenshots show my “last modification”).

Also for anyone that has managed a provincial campaign and worked a full time job you know there is no way I would have time to put into a site like this one. There are not enough hours in my day.

And lastly for those of you that follow me on Twitter you know I say what is on my mind and don’t back down. If I were to do something like this you would know it was me. I don’t believe in hiding behind fake accounts or secret blogs. You all know my opinions and how I feel. I put it out there and I don’t apologize for it.

So no, this blog isn’t mine. Nice try though.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How did Edmonton-McClung MLA David Xiao rack up so many kilometers driving to work in Edmonton?

Updated December 5th, 2012 (see bottom of page) with April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2012 figures.

Edmonton-McClung MLA David Xiao likes to drive. He likes to drive so much that we taxpayers have spent  $29,135 dollars on “kilometer reimbursement" to cover his driving costs for 2008-2010.

Xiao was elected to his first term as a Member of the Legislative Assembly for Edmonton-McClung on March 3, 2008. In addition to his role as an MLA, David serves as the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Transportation and is a member of the Cabinet Policy Committee on Finance.

In 2009-2010 Xiao billed the taxpayers for 35,182 kms and the year before that 31,796 kms. We still don’t know much he charged for 2010-2011 he won’t tell us and the Redford government won’t release the data.
But we do know that in those two years $29,135 of taxpayer money went to David for mileage (43.5 cents per Km).

How did he do it? Thanks to Google maps we will see if we can figure out how an Edmonton MLA managed to rack up so many kilometers.

His house is less than 3km from his constituency office, and his constituency office is less than 14 kms from the Legislature. So if David drove from home to his constituency office and then to the Legislature and back every day he would do just under 34Km per day.

Unfortunately 34 goes into 31796 over 930 times and there are less than 260 work days in a year.


Maybe David went home for lunch every day…

and 2 coffee breaks…

every single working day of the year.

So 260 days times 3 trips times 34Kms is only 26,520km…

Hmm David must have taken the scenic route, after all Edmonton is such a lovely city.

We will ignore that he really only needs to go to the Legislature maybe 100 days a year and assume that he went there every day – 3 times.

Now, I know what you’re thinking… SO he fudged a bit on his mileage…

I mean the government only gives him 43.5 cents a kilometer and gas is expensive. This isn’t too too excessive.

There is just one problem…

You see David buys his premium gas using a government credit card. That’s right. He gets 40cents a km on top of FREE gas. The 66000 kms using premium gas cost the taxpayer --and not David-- another approximately $14,000 in those two years.

Oh, did I mention that the government also pays for his windshield washer fluid and oil changes…

It is time to stop the PC gravy train. It is time to vote Wildrose.


Update: David Xiao for April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2012 billed $34,390 to the taxpayer for mileage. link
 As far as I am aware the Alberta Legislature has not moved locations and remains in his riding.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

The Alberta Liberal Party is "firmly opposed to the concept" of a Charter Right!


Yes you read that correctly. The Alberta Liberal Party is "firmly opposed" to the concept of a specific charter right. In this case section 2.a of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which reads:

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.   
The official Alberta Liberal Party press release on the subject:

"The Alberta Liberals are firmly opposed to the concept of conscience rights, and are deeply disturbed by the Wildrose Party's suggestion that there is a place for such a repugnant and antiquated notion in contemporary Alberta."

This is not about certain instances of an individual expressing their freedom of conscience, and I do not want to even get into that here, this is about not just being opposed, but firmly opposed to the concept of an existing Charter right. 

Now who are supposed to be the scary ones again?

Are they really opposed to the idea of it? I don't think so, it seems they are more likely to be the victim of a very poorly worded press release than actually against the concept of a charter right, but it did provide for some interesting discussion on the entire issue over the weekend.

Including a guest appearance from Justin Trudeau, whose father Pierre was instrumental in giving us our Constitution and Charter of Rights, and the weird part was that I was in agreement with him on both the Charter and the law.

The bottom line on all of this is that our Charter and our existing laws make all those claims that the Wildrose will somehow be able to take rights away due to conscience rights total BS. It hasn't happened in Alberta where someone has been denied a government service that they were entitled to and it will never happen because can't happen thanks to already existing laws.

Namely Section 15.1 of the Charter, and the law is very clear on this when it comes to individuals working on behalf of the government; they cannot discriminate.

And yes, that does include those that perform civil marriages. Because that is ALREADY the law of Canada and any law that is written that tries to change that will never survive a Charter challenge.

This is such a non issue I can't believe that sane people are buying the BS. It just will not happen.

Glad to go at it in the comments if you disagree but fair warning; the charter, the law and Justin Trudeau are on my side. ;-)

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Today's PC smear: Conscience rights. But what is the role of government?

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms:

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.                                    "

Our Charter provides us as individuals with certain rights, and is intended to protect us from any government passing laws infringing on those rights.

So would anyone who is currently aghast about the PC smear du jour of conscience rights and spinning that rights are going to be violated, why should anyone have to surrender their charter guaranteed right of freedom of conscience just because they happen to 'work' for the government?  And that invitation also includes Premier Redford, a lawyer and 'human rights' expert, who called the conscience policy "frightening". Our charter is frightening?  I don't think so but would be happy to hear you try to defend that and your playing politics with charter rights.

So now that we got that charter right business out of the way lets look at what the governments role in all of this is, or at least should be.

Someone is entitled to receive a 'government service'. They get that government service.

Done. That's it.

That is the role of government.

It isn't to force a specific individual to surrender his freedom of conscience by forcing them to perform that service, it is just to make sure that the service does get performed.

And that is why this isn't near the issue that it has been blown up to solely for political reasons. The truth is that no one has been denied a government 'service' because of conscience rights and everyone who has been entitled to be married has been given that opportunity and everyone who was entitled to any other government service has also received that service.

It just isn't happening and it hasn't happened for a long long time in Alberta and even then it they ended up getting the services they were due through the courts. Because that is what courts are for when it appears that rights collide.

Which incidentally is exactly what Danielle Smith said this morning.

The PCAA: The biggest, baddest politcal machine in Alberta

In spite of what Redford and the PC's may want all of us to believe, it is wise for everyone to remember that the Alberta Progressive Conservatives are hardly the underdog or are somehow disadvantaged in this election. They are easily the largest, best funded, most organized and best connected political machine that this province has ever seen. Their resources dwarf any other party and probably all of them combined, and considering that they are also the current government, that advantage is multiplied even further as they are able to use the resources of the government for their own purposes, even though they should not be doing so.

We had the $100,000+ pre-election "cabinet tour" in back in January, the weekend retreat to Jasper in February where the PC caucus met up with the unelected PCAA candidates, commercials on the budget long before it was passed, and the ability to summon the media at will for a photo op or announcement of any kind and they took full advantage of all of it and all our our our dime.

And they are still at it!

I received this at a parent council meeting at our local school Apr 2, one week into the election campaign.

It is an outline of what the what the Alberta government (read PC's) are spending on education and includes the latest information from the 2012 budget, which bring up the obvious question: When was this printed?
The budget passed late on March 21st (BTW Redford was not in attendance and did not vote on her OWN budget) and the election call was on March 26th, with them being distributed and handed out only 1 week later!

Did the PCs again use government resources for free election advertising?  I think the answer is a definitive yes, the PC machine is more than willing to use not only their own ample resources to try to get themselves elected, but also tax payer dollars as well.

It is going to be an interesting few weeks as election day nears and PC election machine gets rolling and spends their money. The PCs have already gone negative ( pre-election attack ad, anonymous robo-calls pretending to be polls, election advertising claiming Danielle Smith is "not worth the risk") and if the last few days are any indication it is going to get nastier as the reality of the poll numbers start to sink in and have started to lash out like a cornered animal resorting to fear mongering and baseless smears as I called a few weeks back.

One more thing: Can we now ALL admit, given the ample evidence to the contrary, that Redford's oft repeated promises that the PCs will run a clean campaign are simply nothing but BS?  I think we are all getting tired of being lied to to our faces about this delusion.

Monday, April 02, 2012

More policy on the fly from Redford: Family Care Clinics

Updated: see bottom of post!

Today Premier Redford announced if she is elected that 140 family care clinics will be created in Alberta over the next 3 yrs.  Sounds wonderful but it looks like a desperation move and policy on the fly on her part for a number of reasons.

It was only a couple of weeks ago, March 22nd, that she announced 3 family care clinics that were to be built as a "pilot" project.  What happened in 2 weeks to turn a small pilot project of 3 into 140?

The cost for the 3 was to be 15 million dollars, making the cost of 140 ( if you believe the gov't numbers which are almost ALWAYS wrong) to be 700 million dollars. 700 million dollars that were NOT in the budget and which will make Redford's promises on a surplus next year all but impossible to keep. ( Don't forget that pre-election spending spree of at least $182 million un-budgeted dollars as well)

Also, how does 700 billion in new spending fit into Bill 1, the 'results based' budgeting bill where all money spend was to be evaluated based on results? This was entirely possible with the 3 'pilot' clinics, but to jump to 140 without knowing if the results does not exactly fit with what Redford passed as law in Alberta.

And lastly and perhaps the most important of all: Where will all the doctors, nurses and other staff come from to staff these 140 clinics?  We already have a known doctor shortage in this province and now with the gov't deciding to open 140 clinics, where will these doctors come from? Will they decide to close their private offices to work in a government run clinic, creating other problems? The same can be said about nurses, who currently find themselves often working short due to staff shortages in our existing hospitals and it is already creating undue stresses on the staff and the system. Where are we planning to get enough nurses to not only fix the existing shortages but also staff 140 new clinics?

It's more policy on the fly from a premier scrambling to stem the bad poll numbers with only 2 weeks to go before the election and the possible end of a 41 year political dynasty.

Update: Redford claims that the new clinics can be funded with existing money from AHS and will not cost any additional money.  How is that even possible? You would have to reduce money going somewhere else and the PCs never cut anything so where would it come from, and that does not even get into the issue of staffing the new clinics unless of course they plan to move existing staff out of hospitals and into the clinics!!!
To put it nicely the claim that this will not cost any additional cash is BS.

Alberta Medical Association president Dr. Linda Slocombe: Tory party campaign promise also goes against the Health Quality Council of Alberta recommendation earlier this year that the government undertake no further major re-structuring of the health-care system without a clear rationale, a transition plan and consultation

Wildrose press release on the issue.

The Globe and Mail forced to change a headline... again.

Now you see it.

 Now you don't.

For the second time in less than a week, the Globe and Mail has had to change a headline on a story due to public outcry. The first was on March 29th when the headline read "Wildrose would nix funding for costly Oilers arena if elected, Smith says"

With "Wildrose wouldn't fund costly Oilers arena if elected, Smith says" as the first one was factually wrong as NO party has ever agreed to fund the arena and which makes it impossible to "nix" something that doesn't even exist; but both headlines claim that is what "Smith says".  Odd that and even stranger that they made both changes without even acknowledging they did so.

And it happened again last night when the Globe removed the loaded word "childless" from their headline on the Gary Mason column, which itself is a total mess that starts off factually wrong in the very first paragraph by calling Amanda Wilkie a "party worker" ( see BC Blue for all you need to know on that and how either Redford or Stephen Carter were not telling the truth) and then makes the audacious claim that the tweet would not have been a story if Daniel Smith had not issued the press release: "Huh? There was no story until she made it one." which also happens to be the premise of Mason column and also happens to be dead wrong.

It was a story; I saw the tweet as soon as it was posted and I also saw the immediate response; both being re-tweeted by many PC supporters and the backlash by the majority, and when it became clear that this was a staff member from Premier Redford's office it became more than just another smear on twitter, it became a story, it became NEWS. I even blogged about here.

While facts and reality are not much in abundance in Mason's column, irony certainly is.
-Like Twitter busting the Globe and Mail about the headline on a story written about a tweet.
-Or a story that goes into 'gender politics' and asks if Smith were a man would we be even talking about this, itself uses 'childless' in the headline.
-Or that the author of a story about a tweet doesn't understand twitter ( if he did he would know why this became a story).
-Or that a story which says that the issue was kept alive and driven by politics is now keeping the issue alive by the story and has become news itself!
-Or that a story about Alberta politics is listed under British Columbia. Okay, that last one wasn't irony. Incompetence yes, irony no.

And speaking of irony: I love it when people use the word 'huh?' to try and express some kind of mental superiority and end up looking not so superior when they turn out to be totally wrong.

That is our professional media for you. I think Ill stick with the blogs.


The Globe and Mail headline the day Redford became Premier: "Alberta steps into the present"

A copy of the now deleted twitter account of Amanda Wilkie. Please note that this was not the first tweet that was suspect as there are a few doozies in there including:

- Wildrose supporters are  

- “ignorant rednecks” 

- “Bipolar Tories”

- “ethics & integrity aren’t part of @ElectDanielle character”

Sunday, April 01, 2012

The facts on Alberta, the PC Party and electricity.

Seen your power bill lately?  Wondering about why the PCs plan on spending billions of dollars, which WILL increase your power bill in the future, on new power lines? Interested in knowing the real facts on electricity in Alberta?

If you are interested, and even if your not, I suggest that you take some time, sit back and watch the following videos of a recent presentation from Joe Anglin on the subject. The 6 videos total about 1&1/2 hr in length ; watch them all at once or one at a time, but they are definitely worth watching and will open up your eyes to what is really going on here in Alberta. This is important and it does effect every person and business on Alberta.

1 (if you are having problems watching the videos here try this link)






Bonus video. Minister of Transportation, Luke Ouellette, and Minister of Sustainable Resource Development actually flew down to southern Alberta on tax dollars to bully their way onto the stage of one of Joe Anglin's presentations on electricity!

A must read on the subject. RETA: Responsible Electricity Transmission for Albertans.