Sunday, April 30, 2017

Albert'a Political Uncertainty Continues

First a disclaimer.  I don't think we can rely on "opinion" polls done through the Internet as being representative because they are not random and often "weighted" by taking a small response segment and over-valuing it in an attempt to be more reflective on the population distribution.

The result is not the best possible version of the "truth" but more likely a rather blatant misrepresentation of opinion.   The Mainstreet Research poll I am about to reference suffers from these shortcomings and even used the much discredited 2011 "Census" results as the basis for demographic weighting.  That said, what else did they have to "weigh" the demographics in their survey responses? Garbage in - Garbage out!

They used their proprietary Chimera IVR process to get responses. I still can't get the smile off my face. IRONY ALERT!   The Chimera origins are from an "imagery incongruous monster" from Greek mythology said to be a "fire-breathing she-monster with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail." Even the dictionary definition made me smile when applied to the reliability of such survey results; "a thing that is hoped or wished for but in fact is illusory or impossible to achieve."  Just like the reliability of the methodology of this "opinion" poll.

That said, presuming we can't rely on the findings there are some things of interest to be gleaned from these results.  Mostly what we seem to be able to say is that the political culture in Alberta is in an existential flux, especially regionally.

Edmonton is strongly NDP at 45%. The  Edmonton"progressives" seem to have left the Progressive Conservative party in and gone NDP or undecided at 16%. They have not moved to the Alberta Party or Liberal centrist options.   The conservative core in Edmonton at 21% has not seen a Jason Kenney leadership bump and actually dropped 1%.  The Wildrose base in Edmonton is static at 26% but in second place, which has to worry the big dark money behind the Kenney PC leadership.

Calgary Conservatives have seen themselves as the breeding ground for Premiers for sure in the PC dynasty.  It is not surprising that the core PC conservatives are big-time Calgary-based Kenney supporters at 38%.  What is more surprising is that NDP is number 2 at 26% and the WRP is 22%, worse than they do in Edmonton. The Alberta Party and Liberals have their largest support levels in Calgary too at 7% each. Note both party leaders come from Calgary.

The 'Rest of Alberta" a.k.a. "rural Alberta" is not in any existential flux.  They are solidly conservative with a 75% combined Kenney(27%)/Jean 48% support. It would be interesting to see if there is an urban-rural split in places like Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer and Fort McMurray.

The aggregate Alberta numbers are pretty misleading as a result of these regional influences and the reality that all politics are local. They may also be misleading due to the "weighing" of results to try and reflect demographics.  For example, the 65+ age group is only 11%  of Alberta's population but makeup 14% in the sample size.

The survey has 33.5% participants in the 18-34 age group but Alberta has about 24% in the same grouping so they get significantly over-represented.  Note that 41% of 18-34 survey segment supported Brian Jean's WRP, 17% for Kenney Conservatives and 18% for Notley's NDP.  Likely another misleading result as a result.  Another misleading concern is the survey asks how you would vote for today, on a decided and leaning basis but has the Liberal option with David Swann as its leader.  He isn't the leader. They are in a leadership contest now.

The other interesting aspect is the Undecideds.  The largest segment is in Edmonton at 16% and the least is Calgary at 13%.  On the preference on who should be leading a merged PC and WRP it is overall uncertain.  First, the question is misleading because the parties can't merge legally.

The regional differences come into play.  Calgary is split equally between Kenney and Jean at 27%.  Edmonton and the Rest of Alberta favour Jean.  In Edmonton "Someone Else" beats both men at 26% and Unsure is at 32%.  Overall it is a 53% share for Kenney and Jean but 47% split between None of the Above or Unsure. Not a strong indication of interest in the future of the conservative political culture in Alberta, regardless of regions.

So while we can't rely on the science-based reliability of the results I think we can surmise that Alberta is not yet made up its mind nor set the direction of its political future.  It is not a clear choice between Left or Right.

The Next Alberta is more likely to be a centrist progressive government if the results of a 2009 real survey of political values based on the 2006 Long From reliable Census trend into the 2017 population.  That research found 63% of Albertans identified strongly with progressive values.  Fixing the vacuum of political options in the progressive political center in Alberta is where the potential is for real change in our political culture.

So far it is still an open question about who, if anyone, will fill that vacuum... effectively.

Monday, April 03, 2017


Keith Olbermann, formerly on NBC I believe, is doing an informative series of Video Blogs on Trump administration.

He is worth a watch...and a careful listen.  Even worth a YouTube subscription.

Interesting that Russia is the largest number of links to this blog since I started commenting more on Trump "foibles."  Proof the "bots" are "alive and well."

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Does Donald Trump Know Anything About Public Policy?

David Pakman is a vlogger (video blogger for the uninitiated). He has a very interesting series of posts on the capacity of President Trump to actually do the job of President.

He runs some transcripts of answers to questions Trump at a newspaper editorial board.  It shows just how incapable President Trump is when it comes to dealing with complex issues.

Do you believe there is an issue about President Trump's capacity to actually focus on a question and provide a reasoned relevant answer?

Check this out!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Is There a Future for Progressive Politics in Alberta

There has been a recent takeover of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta by the former Federal HarperCon Cabinet Minister, Jason Kenney and his social conservative base.  This has to be the final wake-up call for Alberta progressives.

The rise of an American-style Alt-Right and old-style Social Conservative political culture is now well established in Alberta with the Jason Kenney leadership of the PC Party.  What will the remaining progressives in the PCAA do now with the loss of the Lougheed heritage from their party?

We progressives are the largest block of voter values in Alberta.  We have taken a lot for granted.  We have been complacent, comfortable, and even compliant, to the threats from an obvious authoritarian and growing conservative political movement in Alberta.

Up to now, Alberta progressives have been a laid-back bunch politically.  We have been dozing passively to these emerging authoritarian conservative changes, living in denial that they are a real threat.  With each alarm bell, we have repeatedly pressed the snooze bar, rolled over and went back to sleep, blithely presuming Alberta will continue to be the dynamic progressive society we have known.

The "Unite the Right" conservative political movement has been instigated by the HarperCons Republican-lite acolytes, Jason Kenney and Brian Jean. They both have the single-minded goal of coalescing Alberta conservatives to beat Rachel Notley and her "socialist" government.

These Unite the Right leaders have offered very few specifics or policy ideas about how they would govern, should they form a government. They have generally articulated classic conservative bromides of reduced taxes, reduced government, reduced regulation, expanded individualism, deny climate change, privatize health care, public education and deference to market forces and competition as the only way to solve complex social problems.

There are some efforts afoot to enable progressives to respond to these threats to a dynamic, inclusive, caring, responsible and resilient Alberta. The reality is Alberta progressives have to get active in the political culture of the province...or suffer the consequences of political omission.

The present progressive political options to influence the future of Alberta are very fragmented and, so far, ineffectual.  To change this Alberta progressives can make a big difference by joining a progressive party and donate to that party of your choice.  The options are the Alberta Party, the Alberta Liberals, the NDP or the Alberta Greens.

There are a few progressives still in the Kenney PC Party who believe they can convince him to move from the far right, where he has been all his life, towards the political centre.  I don't see any evidence he intends to do anything meaningful to those ends.  Consequently, I would not recommend Alberta progressives join the PCAA as a means to make a difference.

If you can't bring yourself to join a political party, you can effectively engage as a progressive citizen through activism within your memberships in community, social, professional and other networks. There are progressive  Alberta-based organizations focused on influencing politics and public policy.  Alberta progressives should also consider joining and donating to organizations like Progress Alberta and Public Interest Alberta to make a difference.

It is time for Alberta progressives to wake-up, stand-up and step-up for the greater good and the betterment of our province.  More to come from me in this space, but now is the time for action people.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Trumpery* and Trumpism** are Coming to Alberta's Politics.

Gary Mason has some sobering and significant reflections on the rise of Alberta's own version of the alt-right...a.k.a. bigots, misogynists, and racists.

We are seeing these people being emboldened and potentially normalized - unless they are challenged and refuted and rejects as inimical to the dominant Alberta value set.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the overwhelming increase of threats against Premier Notley.

It is worth noting that the majority of threats against Alberta Premiers were aimed at progressives, not Ralph Klein, a recognized conservative. This is an indication that the Alt-Right is prepared to be openly threatening.

As the Alberta conservatives, both Ultra and Alt types, plan to "unite" for the only stated purpose of defeating the Notley government, I expect we will see more of this aggressive and threatening behaviors long before we hear anything about social, environment or innovative economic policy positions.

For the rest of us, that means we can't be passive, indifferent, or event worse, tolerant, of any such inappropriate behavior.  That means we must become more politically aware and more informed citizens...and politically active.

More on becoming politically active as a progressive in Alberta in later posts.  In the meantime decide what if important to you, what you want to happen around those issues and what you are going to do to make those results happen.

Now, let's reflect on what Trumpery and Trumpism means.