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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ted Morton's Big Tent


Ted Morton is all of a sudden a big tent, inclusive kind of guy with a passion for diversity. He has lots of room for lots of different people in his Conservative party even though he is running for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party…a real difference and not just semantics I might add.

He even pointed out his “endorsement from the Muslim community” on the Global TV debate tonight as his proof of this claim. Specific reference in the newspapers in Edmonton and Calgary today was to Syed Soharwardy, president of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada as the supporter of Dr. Morton.

Here is a Calgary Herald story from this past August on his Muslim supporter and the group he represents. His supporter sounds a bit harsh to me and apparently not representative of the majority of the Muslim community as Dr. Morton suggests. I’ll leave the final judgment of readers as to if this helps make Dr. Morton’s image as a more accommodating, moderate and tolerant guy and someone who you would grant your consent to govern your life as Premier of Alberta.



Muslim leader lashes out at U.S. 'fascists': Calgarian prompts outcry by blaming Bush for terrorism
Calgary Herald
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Page: A7
Section: News
Byline: Jason Fekete
Source: Calgary Herald
A national Islamic organization headed by a Calgarian says George W. Bush is a root cause of terrorism, calling the U.S. president and some neo-conservatives "the biggest fascists, terrorists and extremists."
Syed Soharwardy, president of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada and founder of Muslims Against
Terrorism, also suggested this week's United Kingdom terrorism plot was an effort to shift the world's attention from "the genocide in Lebanon."
The comments sparked criticism from other religious leaders, including Hatim Zaghloul, chairman of the Muslim Council of Calgary, who said Soharwardy's remarks don't represent the views of the larger portion of the community.
Soharwardy condemned Friday the alleged terrorism plot discovered by British authorities to blow up at least 10 transatlantic flights -- a plan the U.S. president linked to "Islamic fascists."
Soharwardy insisted Bush and the terrorists have a "common agenda," which is to kill civilians and destroy infrastructure in an effort to gain control over people and the world's resources.
"The reality is that the overwhelming majority of peaceful people see Mr. Bush and his neo-cons as the biggest fascists, terrorists and extremists," Soharwardy said in a statement that was further backed up in an interview.
The terrorists, along with Bush and his "neo-cons" -- including British Prime Minister Tony Blair -- are the root cause of terrorism, he said, adding that both of these "mafia-like organizations" should be condemned and brought to justice.
"It has been proven Mr. Bush and his neo-con mafia are responsible for producing more terrorists and more destruction," said Soharwardy, speaking on behalf of the Islamic council, which has 13 chapters across the country and says it represents 50,000 Muslims.
"The war against terrorism is a factory that is producing terrorists on a very large scale. Mr. Bush and the neo-cons are managing this factory," he added. "Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair are as much responsible as the terrorists for killing innocent civilians."
Soharwardy said his argument that the British terror plot is an effort to deviate the world's attention from "the genocide in Lebanon" isn't necessarily laying blame for who's behind the plan.
"Regardless of who's responsible . . . this plot has diverted attention from Lebanon," he said, adding that it's damaged the Muslim cause.
His statements were quickly censured by Calgary's largest Muslim group and by the B'nai Brith Canada.
"It's inflammatory language, there's no doubt," said Zaghloul, whose group represents about 80 per cent of all Muslims in Calgary, or between 50,000 to 65,000 people.
"We need to bring people closer, not further apart," Zaghloul said.
Calgary Imam Alaa Elsayed agreed that Soharwardy represents a small percentage of Muslims, but conceded Bush's comments have sparked a backlash that may be partially to blame for mounting terrorism in the world.
"I don't disagree totally. I disagree in the wording," he said, specifically criticizing suggestions Bush is a terrorist.
Frank Dimant, executive vice-president of B'nai Brith Canada, assailed Soharwardy's statements as absurdities that "have no foundation in reality," particularly the notion of a genocide in Lebanon.
The comments reflect a pattern, Dimant said, of elements within Canadian society that are becoming much more aggressive.
"It's horrible. It's outlandish. It's on the verge of insanity to speak in the terms being spoken by these people," Dimant said. "It's preposterous that people in the safety of Canada can possibly pronounce the kind of statements done (Friday)."
In an interview with the Herald, Soharwardy conceded he used "strong language." However, he said it was needed so Canadians can see a more complete story regarding the terror plot, and that terrorism isn't automatically tied to Muslims or Islam.
Bush's comments and the military actions of the western world isolate the general Muslim population, he said, which leads some Muslims to extremist groups.
"The war against terrorism hasn't reduced terrorism. It's increased terrorism," Soharwardy said.
jfekete@theherald.canwest.com

This Saturday – be careful who you elect.

Front Runners Campaign on "Anybody But" and "Let's Kick Some Butt"

As the campaign heats up to the sprint to the finish line interesting events are happening. For example, Ted Morton’ campaign slogan says “More Alberta – Less Ottawa.” But he has a bunch of Federal Conservative MPs from Ottawa in Alberta campaigning for him. Does what he really mean is “More of Ted’s Alberta – More of Ted’s Ottawa.”

The Edmonton gay and lesbian community supports Jim Dinning. Good to see the Pride Centre of Edmonton getting involved. The Edmonton Journal says they view Dinning as the “lesser of the evils.” Did they really mean to say that “Morton is the evil of two lessers?” I hope they at least vote Stelmach as #2.

Stelmach is the choice of people who want to see the province work more collaboratively and comprehensively in practical integrated ways to deal the full range of challenges before us. If the contest is all about the “Clash of the Calgary Titans” it is quite scary when you consider the consequences for the whole province. It is entirely avoidable too if everyone voted Stelmach as your #1 choice but that is unrealistic. At least make Stelmach your #2 choice regardless of who you vote #1.

The two front runners are polarizing forces for sure, as tonight’s debate will no doubt confirm. Albertans are looking at all three Leader/Premier candidates this week in terms of what motivates them, who is closest to them and who has influence on them and who controls access to them and, finally, how will they govern.

Policy differences are important but not the deciding factors. The choice between Morton and Dinning is being decided by many party members and interest groups as the lesser of two evils. I think that undervalues the obvious skills, abilities and talents of both Dinning and Morton. It is not just about who will govern but how they will govern that is unsettling to many as they look at Dinning and Morton.

The ballot box questions are concerns over the values and the motivations for each of the candidates and the public’s evolving perceptions of their personalities and characters. The choice is also being decided through a lens of a significant trend towards fragmentation of the province.

The fragmentation of Alberta into special interest groups who are becoming very involved and engaged as strategic voting blocks from unionists to evangelicals. The various regions throughout the province are also looking at voting strategically for candidates based on competition for critical government attention to their issues. The PC party is fragmenting internally too. I wonder if we aren't just auctioning it off to the Alliance Party by voting Morton.

The divisions are reflected in many ways including geography that is north-south, urban-rural, in the corridor and outside the corridor. There are value differences of intolerance of differences to embracing inclusion and diversity. Intergenerational differences about what to do with non-renewable resource revenues and surpluses are showing up. There are fault lines forming even amongst industry sectors as they scramble and compete for staff and workers, and we have not even highlighted Edmonton and Calgary issues.

So Alberta – ask yourself, what are the skills, insights and character qualities that are needed to deal with this reality? Who has earned the trust and respect of the widest range of people in all the “places” that is becoming Alberta today? Who sees this balkanization as a barrier to Alberta achieving its potential and living up to its promise - and will do something about it?

Who can ensure we make Alberta’s defining characteristic as being the best example of what is best about Canada as opposed to becoming a U.S. Republican Party facsimilie? Who is best able to use their leadership skills to ensure we don’t turn Alberta into a mini-middle east of irreconcilable differences were self-interests and radical factions compete for power and control?

This Saturday we all have unavoidable choices to make and serious consequences to consider as we decide on our Premier for the next two years. Even staying home and not participating is making a choice to let others decide this issue for you. Lack of knowledge can be cured by going on the candidate's websites and informing yourself. Indifference to the chance to make a difference is inexcusable.

The future is ours so long as we don’t blow it on Saturday. Overcome the frustration, the anger and deal with the angst and vote for intelligent, skilled, compassionate and effective change. Think about what is in the best interest of you and your family. Think about what is best for your community and the province as a whole when you vote. I have done that reflection and I am voting Stelmach/Dinning in that order.

Remember we are all in this together, alone!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Who to Support on the Second Ballot - and Why!

Today three campaigner who had to switch candidates because of last Saturday's results...OK OK we are all losers. I hope you "feel our pain!" We have all found new homes with second ballot candidates and have renewed enthusiasm and energy.

I went from Hancock to Stelmach, Susan went Hancock to Dinning and Vitor went Norris to Morton. We were all interviewed on the Edmonton CBC AM Radio show this morning. If you missed it here is the link. Hope you enjoy the exchange.

Lots to talk about in the next few days! I am back in town and tomorrow will see more postings as the horses are rounding the last turn into the debate tomorrow and then they are sprinting for the finish line.

I ran my first (and only) marathon at 53 years old and I recall how exhausted I was in the last few miles using nothing but stubborn emotion to get to the finish line. I feel the same way as we end this campaign. This time the exhaustion is pure mental. The difference here is in the marathon I knew when I was finished and I was not competitive and only running against myself. That is not the reality of this marathon. On Saturday the PC party is not finished..just starting something new.

The candidates are not finished either...just starting something new. I feel for them in terms of the pressure of the campaign pace, the practicalities of the process and the consequences of losing and winning. There is an enormous consequence too of getting this decision wrong on Saturday. They are enormous for every Albertan. BE CAREFUL WHO YOU VOTE FOR. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.

I can't imagine how Ed, Ted and Jim must feel at the end of this marathon...and then the winner get to go to work on determining the future of the province and all of its citizens - at least by Monday morning and most likely starting Sunday afternoon.

No rest for the wicked!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I Smell Democracy in the Air!

Kevin from the Country posted a comment on the “What is Happening This Week” posting. Amongst other things he says, as a Dinning guy, he is putting Stelmach as #2. His take is that Stelmach is the compromise candidate and in uncertain times we need “strong champions” and that means a struggle between Dinning and Morton.

I wanted to respond to Kevin comment, including the impact of Dinning's MLA endorsements, in a posting so more people would see it.



So hey Kevin – the bench strength of 30+ of the current MLA Dinning endorsees will be there for Ed too. Stelmach will also benefit significantly from the depth of experience and the creative mind of a guy like Dave Hancock. I doubt if Hancock will see a cabinet post in a Dinning government given how old style power politics really works.

I have to say the Dinning “bench” has not shown much “strength” in this campaign, especially based on the first ballot results. My sense they have just been following through on the cruising-control culture of the Klein government and hoping to ride through on Dinning’s coat tails. Jim can deliver Calgary, and he did, but he needs help elsewhere, and many of his soldiers were missing in action.

Too many of our PC candidates have been able to coast to victory behind Klein for the past 14 years. I campaign for Edmonton candidates and go door knocking with Stelmach in Vegreville. PC candidates here or anywhere in the north, really have to earn their seats by hard work and the dedication of volunteers and themselves. Norris found that out in 2004. There are no coat tails to sit on for those candidates. There will not be any coat tails for PC candidates in the next election either…regardless of who wins the leadership.

The PC Party brand and politicians will have to regain the trust and respect of Albertans if we are to continue to be seen as worthy of governance. Coat tail cruisers and self-centred egoists are about to become an endangered political species in the PC party. This is not dependent on who is leader. It depends on the membership taking the control of the party back and away from the Premier’s office.

“Jim-ophobes” and “Ted-ophiles” of course will see Ed as a “compromise candidate” AND will all put him as #2 – just as they should. . I know there will be lots of Stelmach people putting Dinning as their #2 guy. Thanks to the Dinning voters for the Stelmach support. It is very much appreciated. We know you have the best interests of the province and the party at heart when you mark your ballot for Ed Stelmach.

The rest of us, the ordinary guys who are the “Ed-lightened” Progressives in the party, and the thousands of other ordinary Albertans who are buying up membership this week see Stelmach as a preferred first choice.

They want authentic change - not the same old – same old control from the centre, top-down politics of the past. Nor do they want a province that will become a fundamentalist theocracy. Ed Stelmach’s personal values and leadership style is not aligned with either of those governance models.

We “preferred first choice” Stelmach supporters also see Ed in very practical positive terms too. He is an experienced and capable guy who comes to politics as a personal calling based on public service - not as a professional power monger.

I know Ed Stelmach. He is a friend of mine. I know him to be honest, descent, warm, curious, caring, engaging, fun loving and hardworking. Look up integrity and sincerity in the dictionary and you should see Stelmach’s picture.

These are critically important character qualities for modern leadership. The back rooms and the political power players (of all stripes) see these qualities as weaknesses for effective leadership. Can you believe that? We should forgive them for such delusions. Foregiveness is fine but we should not elect old style pure power-based or politicians who are essentially patricians either - and for the same reasons - character. They are delusional and have lost touch with the public they purport to serve.

I gotta tell you Kevin – I believe Stelmach is going to win this based on the fear of the top two, the Mandel Syndrome and the good sense of ordinary Albertans who see a chance for some positive political change.

I smell some real democracy in the air, and I am not alone.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Send 'Em a Message Survey

I have been so busy this week end and today I have not done the “Send ’Em a Message Survey results update. I will do it tomorrow morning so it will be posted by Noon.

There is a change in the issues priorities this week. It is very interesting too.
You may want to take 5 minutes and do the survey. It is the Send ’Em a Message link on the home page of Policy Channel www.policychannel.com.

Stick with it even if it frustrates you by forcing you to make issues trade offs you would not want to make usually. We get the real level of your commitment to competing policy issues by forcing the tradeoffs.

The idea behind the survey is to see what should be the list of priority policy issues Albertans want the new Premier to attend to right away and how important are they relatively speaking.

There are prior posting on this Blog about results and trends to date. Look in the Archives for the Send ‘Em a Message Update posting if you are interested.

What is Happening This Week?

I received this note from a friend outside the blogosphere. I promised not to identify the person but thought sharing our exchange might be interesting for readers. My friend writes:


Ken,
I enjoyed reading your analysis of the first vote, and the implications for round two. I'm not going to comment on the blog, but wanted to offer my perspective.
• My first take on the weekend was to agree that among existing voters, Edmonton is the battleground. More than 50% of the votes here have been freed-up to go to other candidates, versus just 17% in Calgary and 24% outside the two centres. But in absolute numbers, the vote total in Edmonton wasn't impressive, so that translates into about 11,800 round-one votes from Edmonton that need to find a home, but also 11,400 non-big-city votes looking.
• The potential for continued walk-up sales is enormous. I think there's a growing appreciation that in this one-party-state, all Albertans have a stake in the election for Premier. It wouldn't surprise me if 200,000 people voted in the final round, at which point the outcome becomes highly unpredictable and unmanageable. I think that also means that Thursday's televised debate could be a watershed moment -- if any of the candidates stumble in that showing, their walk-up support could disappear.
• 40% of Stelmach's vote (6,207 votes) came from just seven ridings -- the ones near his own -- and there were 44 ridings where he attracted fewer than 100 votes, including all of Calgary. This doesn't bode well for his growth on the second-ballot. On the other hand, it doesn't matter where the voter lives, as long as you get the vote. If Hancock has turned out every voter in his riding who voted for him in the provincial election, he'd be on the second ballot. (I'm being glib, but it's true.) So other than capturing the endorsements, campaigns may be best served playing to their strengths.
• If Stelmach moves into second place, it's clear that he'll win the final count going away. After all, how many Dinning or Morton supporters will be listing each other's candidate as their second choice. Ed is everyone's second choice. But he's got a lot of ground to make up before that fact can become useful.
• There is a strong argument to be made that social-conservative supporters will see how close their man is to victory and be motivated to turn-out. Likewise, centrist and left-leaning voters may turn up to stop Morton, and would probably back the front-runner. Is there a similar crop of motivated rural or northern-Alberta voters for Stelmach?
• The gold-star goes to Hung Pham. Between the Edmonton advance poll and Calgary-Montrose, he delivered 1,000 votes. Question: is he following Oberg's choice on the second ballot? And will he make the same organizational effort to deliver those 1,000 votes? These are perhaps the only votes that can be reliably "delivered" by any defeated candidate. I doubt that the endorsements from Hancock and Oberg will produce a high-level of cohesion from their voters, so I think your numbers in today's post are optimistic.
• A personal note: I think there are more important things in this campaign than the Edmonton/Calgary rivalry, and other than that motivation I don't see much reason to vote for Stelmach. I'll admit that I'm strongly motivated to vote against Morton, but that's one-half because of his ideology and one-half because he's completed unqualified to run the government. The man's never run an organization that's the size of cabinet, much less led a cabinet and caucus that in turn runs the province. A belief in good governance is a moral value too. Forget the firewall letter; let's talk about basic qualifications for the job.
Apologies for the long ramble, but your blog-posts got me thinking and I wanted to share some of this with you.
All the best,


AND I REPLY:
You are a wise and insightful man.
No growth in Calgary for Stelmach is pretty much a given. He holds his base and the Oberg voters are a question. Jim owns Calgary and the new votes there will be mostly for him and some for Morton.

There is a huge built up frustrated animus towards the Calgary power elites from all other sectors and areas of Alberta. Stelmach and Morton will be a lightening rods for that animus and people will show up to express it at the ballot box. "The North Wants In" is becoming a ballot box motivator for many Albertans Red Deer and north. "More Alberta - Less Ottawa" seems to resonate with Morton southerners.

There is also a profound distrust of the republican-lite/evangelical motivations of Morton from those not in his political "church." He has growth potential because they are close to achieving real power and feel they and been tricked and duped by Harper. The Quebec Nation question is perhaps their last straw I sense. So they will try to make Alberta into a U.S. Repubican-values caricature if they can't do it Nationally.

The fragmentation of our Alberta polity is becoming profound and pronounced and is not just an isolated Edmonton phenomenon any more.

Human decency, trustworthiness, respectfulness and authenticity counts for something amongst in fair minded people. Will that animate them to turn up. 100000 strong showed up last Saturday, almost from nowhere, on the coldest most miserable day of the year so far. That tells me Albertans will becoming out in droves on Saturday. Bad weather is not a negative factor but good weather will be a positive influence.

They are waking up to the campaign outcomes implications and walking up to the voting opportunity and most of all, they are stepping up to take back the ultimate decision about how they choose to be governed. The open question is who are they showing up to support? Today who knows? Saturday all will be decided but I bet not much will be clear.

Stelmach needs a successful political campaign this week. But he needs more than that. He needs a secular crusade to create a ground swell of individual engagement. That crusade needs to show up and give him a mandate for real change - and you know what - I think it might just happen. Yes it is a bit "Field of Dreams-ish" I know. But I am a sucker for romance.

Cheers!


________________________________________

Is Premier Stelmach Possible?

So based on my assumptions and the earlier posting allocating Hancock, Oberg and Norris support to Stelmach, coming out of Edmonton and the rural vote he is effectively tied with Morton for and adjusted base vote going into the second week.

So what happens in Calgary? First Dinning owns Calgary with 13752 votes for 53% of the total. Awesome control over that city. Morton was a respectable second place with 6817. So what happens to the Hancock, Oberg and Norris votes in Calgary?

I think all the Hancock, Oberg and Norris votes go to Stelmach. They are urban votes and any bleed may be from Norris but the base is so small as to not make much of a difference. I do not think the Calgary Oberg votes will switch to Morton if they are evangelical or, maybe Dinning if they ad Calgary-centric, or they stay home. One can not possible know this dynamic. At any rate, this is the best possible scenario for Stelmach.

To catch second place Morton, Stelmach needs to garner over 6800 votes. Well he has 1256 of his own, 542 from Hancock and 702 from Norris and assuming all of Oberg’s Calgary support goes to Stelmach – a big assumption, he gets 2946 from Oberg. That total 5446, leaving him about 1000 to 1500 votes shy of an equal footing with Morton when all the reallocations are done…again you have to accept my assumptions on allocation and retention by the also-rans.

That is to my mind terrific and means it is doable to catch Morton. Of course the sale of many more memberships to people committed enough to show up is key. Stelmach has growth potential in Edmonton and the North and some central rural, Dinning has growth in Calgary and region. Morton has many more Reformers, Alberta Alliance and Evangelicals in his hip pocket yet too. There were over 70,000 Alliance ballots cast in the 2004 election and Morton only has 25,600 first ballot votes. He has growth potential too.

This could be a 34/33/33 split after the second ballot. If so, based on second vote preferences we get Premier Stelmach so long as the middle 33% is him!

Dinning's Stars and Slackers

The Dinning MLA Stars and Slackers are tougher to comment upon. Jim is so dominant individually in Calgary with his relationships in the energy sector I think he personally delivered Calgary with a whopping total vote of 13,752.

In Calgary Dinning’s relationship to the local MLAs is that they can depend on him to win their seats for them because of his personal influence in that city. Klein had that kind of sway in Calgary and most MLAs counted on his personal elect ability to win ridings. As a result it is hard to pick Stars or Slackers on winning Calgary seats. Dinning only lost Hung Pham’s Montrose constituency to Oberg but he literally "owns" the rest of the city.

So I see no reason therefore to look how the 18 Calgary MLAs who supported Dinning did to get out the vote. Some high turn outs are worth noting. His own area of Elbow (Premier Klein’s constituency) he drew 1153 that is 60% of the total. Ron Leipert pulled in 1026 votes in Calgary West for 56%. Shiraz Shariff in Calgary McCall pulled out 922 votes an impressive 69% of votes cast.

There were 11 slackers who did not win their constituency for their man and they were spread all over the province from Cabinet Ministers like Mike Cardinal in Athabasca –Redwater to Barry McFarland in Little Bow. Little Bow had 271 Dinning backers and a total vote of 1910 for a 14% share - not impressive. Minister Renner of Medicine Hat had a 33% showing and Minister Coutts of Livingstone Macleod garnered 26% of the votes. If they all want a Dinning win they can forget about sleeping this week...they have work to do.

Richard Marz showed up with 27% of the voters in Olds-Didsbury- Three Hills. Newcomers Doug Griffiths in Battle River-Wainwright turned in 22% of the voters and Len Mitzel of Cypress-Medicine Hat gather 23% support from his area. Rob Lougheed a late convert to Dinning lost Strathcona outside Edmonton with 22%. Hon. Ty Lund only garnered 25% in Rocky Mountain House in a lost cause for Dinning. NOT impressive!

“Stars” because they won the constituency but not with remarkable results were Janis Tarchuk in Banff-Cochrane with 40% turnout, Hon George VanderBurg pulled in 43% the Hon. Gordon Graydon of Grande Prairie- Wapiti and Frank Oberle of Peace River both had 38% turn up for Dinning.

The two Edmonton supporters won their ridings for Dinning where there were often four-way splits in the voting. Lukaszuk in Edmonton Castle-Downs tallied 38% with help from his Mom who was apparently was the star salesperson. Hon Gene Zwozdesky in Edmonton Mill Creek pulled a 33% and still won. Edmonton area supporters George Rogers of Leduc-Beaumont-Devon is technically a “star” but won by 2 votes.

MLA Endorsements are nice but if they don’t deliver and their leadership candidate “turtles” they mostly have to blame themselves. The idea is not to just ride on the leader’s coat tails but to get out and ensure the victory for the party.

The 2004 election saw 210,000 fewer votes for PC candidates throughout Alberta. They were sending us a message. Based on the poor showing by some MLAs for both Dinning and Stelmach, the message is still being sent but there is lots of evidence that we are not yet listening.

If we keep this up we will have Premier Morton for two years and then Premier Taft or Premier Bronconnier afterwards.

Can Stelmach Catch Morton?

Edmonton will be a battle ground this week to select the next PC leader and pro tem Premier. No guarantee that this week will be anything like the last week in Edmonton or Alberta for that matter, but there are some interesting facts that indicate strengths and potential for growth.

The Edmonton vote was split up all over the place. Dinning had 5575 in Edmonton and Hancock had 4995. No doubt some Hancock votes will bleed to Dinning. Oberg was third in Edmonton with 3228 and they have no reason to go to Dinning but will bleed some to Morton who had a respectable 2739 total in Edmonton. Norris was fourth in Edmonton with 3125 and Stelmach was only 200 votes behind him at 2925.

So let’s make some assumptions and see how this all shakes out. Let’s presume Hancock and Oberg bleed 30% each to Dinning and Morton respectively and the rest goes to Stelmach. We don’t know where Norris is going yet but we know a big part of the motivation for his backers was an “anybody but a Calgarian” leader. The question is will they show up for Ed or just go through the motions? So let’s say Norris delivers 60% of his vote to Ed and the rest splits evenly between Morton and Dinning. No reason to think Stelmach would see any of his core Edmonton support drift away.

So Stelmach has 2925 and he gets 3500 votes (rounded) from Hancock, and 2300 (rounded) from Oberg and 1875 from Norris. His total “presumed” second week Edmonton base is therefore 10600.

Dinning has 5575 and there is no reason to think he wouldn’t keep that base. He gets 1500 from Hancock and 625 from Norris for a “presumed second week Edmonton base of 7700.

Morton has 2739 and gets 625 from Norris and 970 from Oberg for a “presumed second week Edmonton base of 4350 (rounded). I think there is a chance for a small amount of Morton’s Edmonton support to stay home but not enough to make a difference.

Stelmach can win if he can be in second place on the first count on December 2. The first ballot totals were 25600 Morton and 15,000 Stelmach so he needs 10600 more votes to break even from the first ballot and another 1600 from bleed to Morton in Edmonton for an Edmonton shortfall of 12200 going into the second ballot. He has a good chance to pick up 7700 of those in Edmonton alone from Hancock, Oberg and Norris. Which leaves him 4500 short of catching Morton just coming out of the endorsement adjustments in Edmonton.

The rural vote is interesting too. Morton is very strong with 15460 votes to Stelmach’s 10470 for a shortfall of 5000. My sense is Oberg has already lost whatever rural vote he had to Morton based on the kind of campaign he ran and the idea of we need to change the old boys network in the party. I am assuming Oberg’s remaining 5353 voters are not going to bleed to Morton and really are rural voters who will en masse to support another rural candidate like Stelmach. I think all Hancock and Norris rural voters go to Stelmach because there is no reason to go Morton or Dinning.

Coming out of Edmonton Stelmach is facing an adjusted shortfall to catch Morton of 4500 plus the first vote rural shortfall of 5000. Stelmach needs to make up 9500 votes to catch Morton before we face Calgary. He gets Hancock’s rural vote of 2000, Norris’ 3000 and Oberg’s 5300 which makes 10300 and effectively puts him even with Morton going into Calgary.

I will do an analysis of the Calgary vote implications for Stelmach journey to catch Morton tomorrow. Fact is Dinning “owns” Calgary butMorton is strong. How much does the allocation of the “also- rans” voters help Stelmach catch Morton?

Then there is the momentum and growth factor and the “Who really wants it” factor and who is going to go out and get it like Klein did last time.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

What MLAs Delivered For Ed and Which Didn't.

With the various individual MLAs supporting Stelmach and Dinning a review of their respective constituency voting results shows those who performed well or poorly for their guy. The MLA job is to get their constituency to buy memeberships and show up and vote for "their guy." I have done the analysis of Stelmach's MLA Team and it is telling.

The overall score of stars and slackers is about 50/50 for Ed's Team. The big time performers were Ray Danyluk from Lac La Biche St. Paul who turned out whopping 73% of the total 1730 voters for Ed. Next was Luke Oullette from Innisfail Sylvan Lake who turned out a more than respectable 51% of the total 1726 voting members for Stelmach.

Lloyd Snelgrove of Vermillion Lloydminster was second best delivering 48% of the 1068 total voters. Iris Evans of Sherwood Park pulled in 34% of the 1516 votes cast for Ed which I find odd given the new hospital announcement out there made during the campaign. Ed also won Hector Goudreau’s Dunvegan-Central Peace by only by a whisker over Dinning garnering 26% of only 645 votes case but hardly a stellar performance.

The underachiever Ed supporters were Mel Knight in Grande Prairie Smoky who was by far the worst. Ed came in 4th with a mere 14% of the vote. OUCH! Ivan Strang and George Groeneveld were no shows in West Yellowhead and Highwood respectively delivering a 3rd place finishs for Ed with 19 and 20% respectively of the total votes cast. Fred Lindsay was the best of the bad lot getting a 2nd place finish for Ed in Stony Plain with 23% of the vote total.

Lots of room for improvement all over and some definite revitalization of effort and new vigor is needed by some of Ed’s backers if they are serious about supporting him and seeing him win.

Hancock and Stelmach are two of the best retail politicians in the province. Their constituencies drew out the most voters. Hancock's Whitemud drew the largest with 3069 voters and Stelmach was right behind in Fort Saskatchewan Vegreville with 2934.

The turn out of almost 100,000 voters was pleasantly surprising especially given the weather and the generally reported lack of campaign significant membership sales. Lots of constituencies reported a brisk traffic of walking in membership sales all over the province.

Average turnout in Calgary was 1092.25 per constituency, 1181.10 in Edmonton and 1196.35 in the rest of Alberta. The turn out was pretty balanced even though we are fracturing the party ideologically between social conservatives, corporatists and progressives and regionally as well.

This all augers well for a possible boost in overall voting turn out next Saturday too, especially if we get a break in the weather.

I will do an analysis of the Dinning MLA supporter performance next. Stay tuned.

Our Latest LaPresse Column Published Today

I am going over the numbers and the outcomes of yesterday and looking for the potential and possibilities for Stelmach to win. I have seen how i can be done. I am far from finished in my analysis of what it will take but as readers have heard me say before "Campaigns Matter."

This campaign is still far from over. I see what I call "The Mandel Syndrome" happening for Stelmach this week big time. The top guns are not seen as sufficient to make the shifts needed to meet the future and the third place alternative is not just a compromise but on reflection, he becomes the preferred choice and wins.

IN THE MEANTIME here is our LaPresse column published in Montreal today. It has relevance as you will see.

La Presse 26 novembre 2006

Satya Das et Ken Chapman

Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives signalled a definitive end to the era of Ralph Klein by voting for his successor yesterday, and in doing so began to redefine Alberta’s place in Canada.

In the last five years, Alberta’s government abandoned all vision and direction, after paying off the entire fiscal debt. It squandered opportunity and did little to respond to the pressure of rapid growth. Worst of all, it had no interest in developing the adaptability and flexibility needed to respond to change. It brought in a favourable royalty regime of one per cent to accelerate development of the oil sands when oil cost less than $20 a barrel – and persisted with it even as prices rose astronomically.

This failure to build an escalating royalty rate so that government income would increase as prices rose, cost the Alberta treasury more in lost revenue than the reviled National Energy Programme negotiated a generation ago between Peter Lougheed and Pierre-Elliott Trudeau. Indeed, this one instance of incompetence is as colossal as Quebec’s squandering of Hydro Quebec’s revenue potential, so ably chronicled in Alain Dubuc’s excellent book √Čloge de la richesse.

In fact, the Alberta government went beyond laissez-faire economics, to invoke laissez-faire governance. Premier Klein’s government deliberately chose to create a debt-free fiscal climate wherein government would earn the room to cut taxes and give the free-market economy the lebensraum it needed to grow and flourish. This philosophy meant removing the deliberate and deliberative hand of government in favour of the “invisible hand” of the marketplace.

This Adam Smith economic prescription was paired with a John Stuart Mill political outlook. Rather than a “social contract” between the citizen and the state, the Klein political philosophy followed Mill. His governing ideal enabled and empowered each person to exercise and develop their capacities, capabilities, engagement and participation in his or her own way, in order to achieve personal progress and personal happiness, satisfaction and fulfilment.

In this concept of political economy, a flat-rate personal income tax, more private choice in the provision of health care, and distributing resource royalties directly to citizens by writing everyone a cheque, are all perfectly consistent with Adam Smith economics and John Stuart Mill politics. In this construct, the individual liberty to pursue one’s own happiness, with the least possible constraint from the state, becomes the central governing ethos.

The effect of laissez-faire governance was to diminish the individual’s expectation of state support, and to regard the state as a shelter only in times of critical need. As Premier Klein put it, his governance philosophy was to provide “a hand up, not a hand-out.” The ultimate empowerment of the citizen, in the Klein philosophy, was the classical Mills view that democracy with its freedom of speech and freedom of choice is the best vehicle to enable each citizen to flourish, following pursuits and decisions of his or her choice free from the interference of others, so long as what one wants does no harm to others.

Yet it is clear to the majority in Alberta that hands-off government does not work. The state of the environment is by far the biggest preoccupation of Albertans, who seek government leadership in sustaining the environment without demolishing the economy. Of the candidates on yesterday’s ballot Jim Dinning was a strong proponent of what he called the “clean energy economy,” proposing billions of dollars of investment in sequestering carbon dioxide and slashing the province’s greenhouse gas emissions. (Interestingly, this is also the perspective of federal Liberal leadership candidate Stephane Dion). And in survey after survey, Albertans declare themselves proud Canadians, ready to share their wealth with their fellow citizens (so long as the federal government is not the agent of distribution).

More than anything, Albertans seek a new role of leadership and influence in the country, based on their growing economic power and the responsibility that brings to perpetuate the common good. No matter what choice the Progressive Conservative party makes, an effective Premier of Alberta must respond to these desires.

And Now There Are Three

Good morning. A busload and Hancock supporters went to Calgary yesterday and we got home at 4:30 this morning. I am a bit blurry eyed and feel like I slept with an old sock in my mouth. I have been telling myself since I woke up “I am not too old for this.” There is a fine line between an affirmation and a delusion.

Just did a quick look at the constituency results and will have lots to say later today. The choice is clear but it is not a two horse race - it is a real three-way contest, with clear alternatives and real choices, each resulting in a very different Alberta.

Ed Stelmach is a strong third place finisher and is definitely in the hunt. He has traction, momentum and growth potential this week. The media will frame the choice as Dinning vs. Morton. I see that dichotomy as we really don’t need just more of the Dinning Calgary Mafia nor do most Albertans see themselves reflected in the social conservative values of the Morton Alliance Mafia.

This week there will be lots of hype, hyperbole and hypertension. There is time for the average Albertan to take some time for some sober second thinking about the kind of Alberta we should become. We can all reflect on which of these three is going to be the most effective agent of real change to help move us forward to our preferred future. Those that do some sober second thinking will find a real alternative in Stelmach. He is not just a compromise candidate to the other two "top guns." He is the real thing.

I know Ed Stelmach. I like him and respect him. More importantly, I trust him and know he is authentic to his progressive values and has sound judgment. I will be telling you more abut him as the week progresses.

I suggested early in the campaign that Hancock could be the beneficiary of a Mandel syndrome where the front runners were found wanting and an acceptable alternative was wanted. Mandel became that acceptable alternative to the so-called “favorites” and the Mayor of Edmonton. Not only is Ed “acceptable” but for the kind of real change an attitude and approach to government and governing, he is, by far the best alternative for Leader/Premier for ALL ALBERTA

Friday, November 24, 2006

Bundle Up, Show Up and Vote Hancock.

Hello gentle reader! The “Case for Hancock” has been running through these postings and exchange of comments for weeks now. I am not about to repeat them. People know where I stand and why on this leadership campaign.

The question is where do you stand on this leadership contest and what do you want for the future of your family? What kind of society do you see Alberta becoming? How does Alberta fit into and relate to Canada and the world? What are the priority issues you want to see your Alberta government deal with? Is a firewall around the province and opening up same sex marriage again you idea of good public policy? Then Morton is you man.

Or are you concerned about the environment, education, health care, responsible growth, quality public service and a better life for you, your family and your fellow man? Then Hancock is the one because he speaks to your values.

Hancock is caught in the same dilemma as Adalai Stevenson was when he sought the Democratic nomination for president in the 1950’s. Myth has it that a news reporter commented to him that “He had the votes from every thinking man and woman in the country.” Stevenson’s reply was, “You may be right, unfortunately I need a majority.”

Too many of the thinking people of Alberta may be simply “sitting this one out.” That would be a mistake – especially if we get a radical right-wing social conservative government for the next two years as a result.

If you stay home and “pass” you will get the kind of government you deserve, even if it is not the kind of government you want.

It is going to be cold tomorrow. So bundle up, show up and vote for Hancock. You will be glad you did because you know you will be doing the right thing.

It is Now in the Hands of Albertans

So the political punditry is all but past and who the next Premier of Alberta is going to be in the hands of the public, if not tomorrow then next Saturday for sure.

Not a great many of the public are going to make this decision by the looks of things. Those political die-hard will show up for sure. Those other citizens who have been able to overcome their philosophical and personal resistances to joining a political party will participate too. We owe all of them a debt of gratitude for taking the time to be part of this process and for ultimately making the decision.

They have seen the opportunity, and the threat, inherent in this party leadership contest and how it can impact the future of Alberta. Many have had to overcome some serious angst in order to becoming a political party member. that has been a barrier to many but the reality of the next PC leader also being the provincial Premier has had an impact on their decision I suspect.

Others who have risen to the occasion by showing real leadership and engagement on policy issues must be acknowledged too. They have become effective activists in promoting causes where they want to affect policy changes. The most successful and effective of these have been those citizens involved in the full range of disability issues and services. Thank you for your superior citizenship.

This process has been open and democratic but not as transparent as it needs to be, especially around disclosure and tactics used for soliciting campaign contributions. It has been too long a campaign in some ways but the extra time has given people, and candidates, more time to identify and understand the issues. Albertans have had the time to get more informed about the character and capabilities of the various candidates.

We are being offered two clear and different visions for Alberta’s future. We have a social progressive agenda within a fiscal conservative overlay that demands value for taxpayer’s dollars. This vision is represented by Hancock and Dinning. Alternatively we have social conservatives coupled with a fiscal attitude that sees government as a necessary evil. They believe more tax cuts, the marketplace and individual initiative is the best way to run a society. This vision is represented by Morton and Oberg.

Alberta is going to see a dramatic change of political direction, if not now, then at the next provincial election for sure. Neither of these two alternative are extensions of the current status quo. Each represents a significant change of direction from the past 5 years of the "cruise-control" Klein government.

The different approaches and the outcome of this leadership campaign is either the change itself, a prelude of the change to come, or if the PC party gets it wrong, about which party forms the next government. No small stakes are at issue here!

Just like no one knows the leadership outcome today, we will have to wait to see what Albertans want their future to be like and what principles and values will drive the direction of their next Alberta. Albertans know we are living in interesting, scary and uncertain times but we have great opportunity and a good reason for a sense of optimism - but some things have to change. Times of change demand wise leadership from politicians with real depth, significant experience and, above all, quality characters of the highest order.

So Alberta – bundle up, show up and vote carefully tomorrow – your future will depend on the choices that are being made. Those choices will be made by you - or by others "for you." Again, no small stakes. It is your choice, your values and your future that is at issue at the ballot box.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

AADAC Funds Allegedly Funneled into a PC Leadership Campaign

The Auditor General report released today also deals with allegations of AADAC funds diverted by a former senior executive of the agency into the hands of "tobacco control lobbyists who were then providing the funds to the campaigns of provincial leadership contenders." (page 13). The AG report says the the executive in question "stated he did not use any of the diverted funds to make political contributions and his record did not show any such contributions" (page 14).

The Auditor General says:
"Accordingly, we considered if funds may have been diverted to a political party, or candidate for political office, in order to enhance career aspirations or other opportunities. We found nothing to support these allegations." (page 13).

Apparently a traditional media outlet is indicating the Auditor General is looking into allegations that some of the money may have been funneled into a yet unnamed Tory Leadership campaign.

Is the AG still looking into this or has he finished his investigation and satisfied that no funds were diverted into a leadership campaign? The latter is what I read in his report.

The status of this matter has to be cleared up immediately because it puts an unfair cloud over all candidates. Is the Auditor General's investigation over funds being diverted into a PC Leadership campaigm completed and they found "nothing to support these allegations" or is it still on-going?

Whether to Vote in Bad Weather Key to Third Place

Leger Marketing Poll of PC party members of record as at November 6th and polled between November 18 and 21 has some telling findings. We all know it has limitations because many campaigns have not turned in their memberships and many that were turned in did not have phone numbers so they were not contacted. The randomness is not in question but there is some self-selection at play all the time and especially here. Like do we know how many calls they had to make to get 801 who were prepared to answer the questions? Were the no-phones from a specific region? It all could have an impact on the results.

That aside, there are some interesting findings and scenarios that could emerge. Long shots with a chance result in big payoffs when they come in. Looks like Dave Hancock is a long shot with a chance with a strong second position showing in Edmonton.

The analysis is later in this posting but the question is will Edmonton deliver for Hancock given his base in the Capital City? Will Edmonton come to realize that with local support that he can make a real difference in the second ballot outcome? Will Edmonton show up for Hancock? If so he could be on the second ballot.

First: It is a two horse race between Dinning and Morton and both are likely to be on the second ballot. Now they have to see how committed their support really is and will they get out the vote in bad weather? It is a momentum game too and Morton has “MO.” The key question now is who is going to be the third man on the next ballot. Here we can say with great confidence that anything is possible.

Secondly Oberg is down and with the news today – he may now be out of the running. Today the Auditor General commenting on a 2004 provincial election campaign contribution from a “wholly owned corporation of Metis Settlements” to Minister Pearl Calahasen, an Oberg supporter. That contribution was, according to the Auditor General, “...contrary to the Elections Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act.”

The AG has referred the matter to the Chief Electoral Officer and I woujld not be surprised if Alberta Justice is looking at it too. This is not about Dr. Oberg directly but Oberg did not need more grief and yet another credibility “incident” to raise questions about his suitability to govern. He will have to comment on this publicly and in the final days of the campaign. Will this cause his soft supporters to stay home, the undecideds to discount and any potential for new growth to evaporate.

Thirdly, who is third? The candidate's regional differences are starting to show up in the Leger poll. Calgary is a two horse town with Dinning at 30% and Morton at 23%. Everyone else is out of it but therre is still an undecided of 28% four day before the first ballot - OUCH!

Outside of Edmonton and Calgary is also a two horse race with Morton at 20% and Stelmach at 18%. Dinning and Oberg are 13% and 12% respectively. Nobody else is in the hunt outside the major cities. The undecided is 27% and if the rural voters dessert Oberg and show up for Stelmach then Ed could be the third man in.

Edmonton is the least undecided at 21% but the most volatile. Arguably also a two horse race with Dinning at 20% and Hancock at 14% but the pack range from 9% for Stelmach, 10% Norris and 11% for each of Oberg and Morton.

This Edmonton showing is encouraging to the Hancock campaign. They have this much Edmonton support and they had not yet turned in their Edmonton memberships. Their supporter base was not polled and they are still a strong second place. If Edmonton show up for Hancock and Oberg’s Edmonton support stays home or goes to Morton, then Hancock could catch and pass Oberg and make the cut for the second ballot. That would be interesting.

Lots of “ifs” and a long shot for sure but this is politics and strange things happen all the time. It may all come down to the “weather” and the “whether.” Bad weather and indifference by people as to whether they feel they make a difference by voting are all at play here.

Showing up for Hancock in Edmonton and showing up in rural Alberta for Stelmach can make a big difference to the end result on December 2nd.

Win, Place and Show

Leger poll newspaper reports today indicate my earlier information was correct yesterday.

This is all about a second ballot race for third place now. Lots of undecided voters still and lots of memberships have not been turned in by campaigns because there is no need to. There is lots of “plus and minus” machinations still to be played with in any “analysis” of these results.

My guess is in a province of 3.2 million people; my guess fewer than 85,000 will show up in the end to cast select the next Premier for the province. That is political leverage. Too bad it is due to indifference and not design.

Next week will be really interesting.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

New Poll Coming Out Tomorrow

My info is there is the new poll coming out tomorrow. It polled PC members but only those who have had their membership cards turned in to the party. Lots of campaigns have held back their membership so it is informative but not conclusive.

There is a horse race between Dinning and Morton. Oberg has fallen back into a pack for third place and the pack is way back behind the top two.

Saturday is getting more interesting all the time.

Character+Competence+Commitment+Caring=Dave Hancock

As readers know, I am a keen proponent of Dave Hancock for the next leader of the PC party. This Blog is full of postings as to the reasons why. In summary my support is about character, competence, commitment and caring. Look up any of those words in the dictionary and you should find a picture of Dave Hancock every time.

That is what we Albertans' should think about as we vote this weekend. We need to find a new kind of learder and Premier, not just someone else to full the office. That new kind of leader is Dave Hancock. So take the plunge, join the PC Party and show up on Saturday and vote for Dave Hancock. Then you know you will be making a real difference about the future of Alberta.

I am also a keen progressive when it comes to politics. I like the conservative aspect of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta too. I especially like the idea of conservation as a concept that needs to be embedded and more obvious stated as part of the “Conservative” element of modern politics and the PC Party of Alberta.

Conservation in my mind is a broad principle that embraces the environment, a long term view of economic prosperity, natural resource based stewardship and people centred concerns like social cohesion and inclusion.

The progressive part of what I see in Alberta’s future has to foster our cultural creative people. People have heard of Richard Florida’s book on the subject. The foundational book about cultural creatives is “The Cultural Creatives” by Paul Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson in 2000.

You will hear more about this from me post leadership but as a break and segue take a minute and do the "Are You a Cultural Creative" Questionnaire. It says a lot about and to Progressives as well.

Cultural Creative and Progressives have to get organized and focused just like Social Conservatives have done. This questionnaire is a start to those ends.

Please let me know your thoughts on this idea of the Cultural Creative and Progressives getting organized politically as well.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Enlightened Savage Has Perspective

I have just read a Blog, The Enlightened Savage that I think has some of the best comments, insights and profiles of the leadership candidates.

It is definitely worth a read.

Peter Lougheed Gets in the Game

There are few names in Alberta as famous as Lougheed. The statesman status of former Premier Peter Lougheed is one of the best antidotes to the stern hard line far right rhetoric of the Alliance cum “Progressive” Conservative candidates.

The halcyon mythology of the Lougheed time as Alberta’s “Camelot” is over blown by we Red Tories – just as much as “blaming the NEP and Ottawa” for all the past ills of Alberta is exaggerated by the Alliance folks. The partial truth of myths is both their strength and their weakness.

The Lougheed endorsement of Dinning is surprising to me. No surprise as to where his support would be. I am surprised however that he would break from his earlier commitment not to make any campaign endorsement. Doing so in such a timely and strategic way is good politics and a confidence boost for Dinning.

If resonance with the public sentiment is the test of a successful political position (and it is) Peter Lougheed and Preston Manning have been the most effective campaigners on “their issues” of anyone in this leadership contest. Frank, clear, blunt and forward thinking commentary from both men have added greatly to forming the current and emerging consciousness of Albertans. This is especially with the ascendance of the environment as the #1 issue in Albertan’s policy concerns. Their influence on making that happen is significant.

I think Peter Lougheed’s political instincts about what is happening in this leadership campaign are as sharp as ever. I believe he fears the potential ballot box strength of the republican-lite far right candidates and the collective indifference of the progressive and moderate elements in the leadership campaign.

So his engagement in the fray will help raise the attention level of the campaign amongst moderate and progressive Albertans. It will help Stelmach and Hancock garner support too I expect. Hopefully it will show progressive and moderate Albertans that they need to be involved in this leadership contest because the outcome can potentially define the future for all of us.

For years I used to sit back and roll my eyes at the statements and actions of the far right element in the PC Party. I viewed them as a minority that merely had to be tolerated in a free and democratic society. I sat back and did nothing to rebut the rhetoric, regardless of how ridiculous and rancorous it was at times.

Because most people like me in the PC party were also disengaging we left the policy and political field to the far right and they, to their credit, played the game well. They set the tone and temperament of the party and changed the public consciousness of what the PC party was all about. It had evolved from an amalgam of progressive plus conservative principles more into a big “C” conservative movement.

The new debt/deficit approach was a disciplined fiscal approach (for a while), but with a relatively harsh social agenda. It ended up being neither progressive nor conservative in the end just power-based pragmatic government with too much money to spend. The party had lost its way. This leadership campaign, we must remember, is about the future of the party and the province.

I few years ago I decided to re-engage and to stand up to the far right rhetoric when I thought it was destructive, discriminating and divisive. This Blog is just part of that personal re-engagement. I don’t know if Peter Lougheed is re-engaging for the same reasons, but given the circumstances and the timing, I would not be surprised.

Monday, November 20, 2006

PC Party Needs More Than Revitalization.

The next Leader/Premier has to revitalize the PC Party of Alberta. Part of that effort must be to take the lead and change some of the culture around the parties nomination process and candidate selection. If we are going to attract better people into politics, they have to be assured the systems are fair and balanced and the rules are enforced. Not do so erodes the public's confidence in political parties and their processes. They potentially impede the effectiveness of successful candidates.

Lets be clear, the PC Party of Alberta is no better or worse than the other political parties in this regard. A quick search will show "incidences" in virtually every party. They seem to be just another one of our institutions that has let us down or betrayed our trust.

My point is we in the PC Party, with a new leader can take the opportunity to make some real changes. We can and should do a lot better and become the political party that raises the ethical bar and set the standards for everyone else as a result.

For example, there were allegations of irregularities surrounding the voter lists in his 2004 nomination in the Foothills-Rockyview constituency and the matter went to Court. It appears the matter was just dropped in light of the pending 2004 election. Pragmatism over principle seems to have been the ethical standard of the day. Not good enough! People deserve to know the truth.

The Court records on this matter is interesting reading but inconclusive as to if or how the issues and allegations were resolved in the end.

The initial legal issue was apparently a defeated candidate for the nomination was seeking a judicial review over the eligibility of some of the people on the voting membership list in the Foothills Rockyview Progressive Conservative Party nomination process for the 2004 election.

The Alberta Court of Appeal states the issue as:
“At the nomination meeting, Morton won by some 4 votes. Anderson was a losing candidate. Anderson believes, or suspects, or has concerns that some people who voted at the meeting were ineligible to vote because they were not resident in the riding.”

The issue was stayed by the Court due to the pending election but it appears to be still unresolved. It appears there were weeks of negotiations between the parties to settle these matters out of Court, but ultimately unsuccessfully.

Is it sufficient that the PC Party leave such matters unresolved? Was the voters list for the 2004 nomination meeting, ever produced and reviewed and eligibility confirmed? Is the party sure all those people on the list were actually residents of Foothills-Rockyview Constituency and appropriate to vote in that nomination?

Please don’t tell us this issue was delayed and then forgotten about by the Progressive Conservative Party at the end of the day because the 2004 election was looming. As the Court said “…(these decisions)…are potentially very important, not only to these parties but to others.” To not find out the facts and with the seriousness of the accusation made in these court proceedings is not fair to anyone involved. It does not do much to instil confidence in the PC Party either. We have such an open and fair process to select a new leader for the party, people need to be confident the process to nominate candidates is also open and fair.

I think the next leader’s job is not just about revitalizing the party. It is also about changing the culture of the party so this stuff does not happen. If and when there are issues or concerns, they get dealt with efficiently, effectively, openly, promptly and fairly.

Allegations of gamesmanship with the nomination process left unresolved, just enhances the cynicism of citizens about politics. Such issues are still happening. We see it with the federal Liberal leadership race, the provincial Liberal leadership race when Grant Mitchell was choosen still has a cloud over it. The federal Conservative Party of Canada currently has a court challenge on the Rob Anders nomination in Calgary West and of course we have the Ontario Conservative caucus dumping of Garth Turner but wikthout clarifying the reasons and rationale for the move.

I will be interested to see if and how the new PC leader tackles these party governance issues just as much as they tackle the various social, economic and environmental issues facing the province.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

"Send 'Em a Message" Update Report #4

The "Send ‘Em a Message survey participation is starting to grow. The results this week are very consistent with last week. The environment is the BIG #1 issue as a priority and the intensity of the commitment at 27.25%. The next three issues remain essentially the same. Access to Quality and Timely Health care – commitment level remains the same too at 11.20% Managing Growth is #3 with 9.85% and a Focus on quality K-12 education is #4 at 7.88%.

The nest two issues are very close to the K-12 education issue and worth noting as part of that cluster of issues in the 7% range. They are #5 priority issue of Providing Open and Transparent Government with 7.14% and #6 priority of Reducing Poverty at 7.01%.

The remaining issues in order of priority are Diversified Value-added Economy with 6.08%, Labour and Skills Shortage at 4.64 %, Maintaining Public Infrastructure like schools and roads at 4.27%, providing access to Post-Secondary Education is at 3.82%, Managing oil and gas Royalties (including oil sands) come in at 3.36%. Having safe communities was #12 priority with2.53%, Lowering Taxes was net at 2.29%, followed by Dealing with resource revenue surpluses at 1.49% and the least urgent priority of these 15 issues was resolving problems facing Aboriginal Albertan at 1.17%

Again we point out this is a web based survey that is not a scientific poll. However we are approaching a large enough response that we are seeing what a self-selecting, highly educated and activitist part of the Alberta population sees as top policy priorities. We also see the intensity of their commitment level to those priorities. These are the people who get it and tend to “show up.” They will undoubtedly be working to influence the political and policy agenda of the next Alberta that emerges from this leadership review.

This project is way to provide some insight into that kind of thinking and what is on Albertan’s minds. It will be invaluable to the next leader, if they are wise enough to listen and understand.

If you wish to participate - take 5 minutes and do the survey.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Road Less Traveled By

Just over two years ago (Nov 8, 2004) I wrote a Guest Column published in the Edmonton Journal in anticipation of the provincial election, entitled “The Providence of Alberta.”

In it I talked about some of Alberta’s accomplishments past and present and offered some ideas for future feats we might want to tackle. I begged the question about our readiness to meet the new complex challenges before us. Did we have the commitment and discipline to realize our full potential? Were we too flush with cash and conceit to truly concern ourselves with the responsibilities we have to each other, the environment and future generations? Were we so busy making money that we are willfully blind to the social and environmental consequences of how we live, work and grow our energy based economy? Those same questions are still relevant today.

The 2004 election campaign results were not a disaster but they were not good either. Albertans were sending a wake up call to the PC Party and the Klein government. The Klein government seemed to not heed the call. It stayed on "cruise control" and went back to throwing money at problems. The party membership had had enough and responded last April 1st, when they forced the current leadership selection campaign.

If we are to believe the polls, only 30% of the PC party “base” members are intending to vote in the selection of their new leader. I hope that proves to be wrong because we need a re-engagement of socially progressive and fiscally conservative people who will “come to the aid of the party.”

We are entering the end of the "regular season" of this campaign with the looming November 25th first ballot. I think it is timely for Albertans to sit back and quietly reflect for a moment on what is really going on in this leadership selection campaign and what they want to emerge out of it at the end of the day. Sure it is a partisan event. But it is more than that. It is a chance for citizens to send a message about the kind of Alberta they want. Fundamental shifts in direction are needed and clear options are before us, given the kind of candidates and the policy options they are offering.

We can shift hard right to a more socially conservative society with the “Holy Trinity” of Morton, Oberg and Doerksen. Or we can move forward with a socially progressive and fiscally conservative “Wholesome Triumvirate” of Hancock, Stelmach and Dinning. The end result of the second ballot on December 2nd will decide the direction our government will be taking for the two years to the next election.

Do we, as a province, want to go hard to the Right or do we decide to move Progressively forward? The new Leader/Premier will be the one who get to define and decide the goals and the new destination for the province too. The outcome of this leadership process significantly impacts all of us in our daily lives...whether you voted or not.

No new Leader/Premier, will be able to govern alone, Stephen Harper notwithstanding. The next Leader/Premier will have to seek out support from like minded candidates to be allies. One of these two groupings of candidates will emerge December 2nd, depending on who we select as our next Leader/Premier. If you, as a citizen, decide to “sit this one out” that means you are prepared to entrust to others to make that decision for you. That is your right but take some time to understand and appreciate the potential consequences of such indifference.

There is one week left in this campaign. Participation in our democratic processes and institutions is dangerously low. Exercising ones right to vote, showing up to be part of the decision and not “siting this one out” is the road less traveled by…and that, my fellow Albertans, can make all the difference.

It is about your values, your choices and your future.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Dome Disease Is Ticked With Me!

Yesterday in a Comments exchange on the Renewing the One Party State Blog I commented on Norris being a Klein clone and his campaign funding model of issuing invoices for the candidate to provide consulting services to contributors. I was concerned how this worked and it the scheme had advanced blessing form the Canada Revenue Agency. “Dome Disease” is one of the anonymous Bloggers on this site and took me to task. Here is the subsequent exchange between us. I think people will find it interesting.

Dear Ken:
I am not sure you can criticize any other candidates funding platforms until your candidate reveals his. Makes you a hypocrite don't you think? Maybe your friend Anne McClelland could let you know what the Revenue Agency thinks. Unless you're afraid to disclose that you're one of Dave's handful of bankrollers hoping for huge payoffs in gov't contracts?

Norris is not a Klein clone, although it's actually not such a bad thing. In a big tent party you need someone who can relate to ordinary Albertans more than you need a nerdy lawyer who puts even librarians to sleep with his voice. Mark is a lot like Ralph in his ability to speak to people, not at them and I'm glad you see that valuable trait. But that's where similarities end, because Norris is much stronger on protecting Alberta and on actually being a conservative, don't forget your boy Dave isn't.

Your campaign has been getting more desperate with every set back and now you're swinging blidnly on your way down. I am sorry that your guy is an also ran but throwing mud at the former Premier (who helped make you, by the way) and at someone who shares some of his better virtues is not only childish, it's STUPID.Dome Disease 11.16.06 - 5:44 pm #

My response:

Dome Disease - I am not criticizing Mark for disclosure - just asking for clarification of the fundraising tactic he used in raising the funds he has disclosed.

If what he did is acceptable and satisfies the Income Tax Act by raising otherwise non-deductible campaign funds as contracts good on him. I just what to know if he had the prior blessing of the Canada Revenue Agency. It would be prudent don't you think?

If it is acceptable for candidates to do work for the "donors" as part of the campaign and a contribution deal it sure changes the way politics gets done. Don't you think?

I am not sure we want that to be the way politics "gets done" but if it is found appropriate by the Canada Revenue Agency then Mark has really changed the nature of political party leadership campaign fundraising.

For the record - I have not made a cash donation to Dave's campaign but I have volunteered lots of hours for sure. As for government contracts, we got some before and expect to get some after the leadership based on merit and not who the leader is. You wouldn't want it any other way would you?

As for Mark protecting Alberta, my Alberta does not need "protecting." It needs mature, seasoned, enlightened and wise leadership. It needs leadership that is not just ideological from a "Conservative" perspective.

I believe this campaign is about finding a leader for the PROGRESSIVE Conservative Party of Alberta. I want leadership that continues to embrace and integrate both of those concepts.

You mention Anne McLellan. What does Anne McLellan have to do with this PC leadership campaign anyway? Are you suggesting I should not have the right of free association and the right to vote for whom ever I wish? Are you suggesting there is only one way to think and act because I belong to a political party? Is that how a Conservative thinks?

Please also elaborate further on your comments on how Ralph Klein "helped make me" and tell us the relevance of that comment too. You allege to know quite a bit about me. I still have to wonder as to who you even are. Hardly the basis for a reasonable conversation, don't you think?

Are you implying in your comments that I am at some sort of risk by stating my opinions openly and freely and not anonymously? Should I fear you?

BTW - Every candidate except Morton has said they will fully disclose but after the campaign when the complete accounting can be done.Ken Chapman Homepage 11.16.06 - 8:39 pm #

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Which Candidate Is Best to Keep the PC Party Together?

One of the overlooked realities of this leadership campaign is the impact the process and outcome will have on the future of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta itself. I wonder about the role of political parties in general and the resistance of people to join them. Do political parties have a future?

In the old days – I am old enough to have “old days” – political parties were individuals who came together in constituencies to use their collective power to create, influence, criticize, comment, propose and promote public policy ideas as part of the common good.

They recruited candidates, stuffed envelopes, delivered brochures and made phone calls – sometimes until their ears bled. The really big purposes of political parties were to run and win elections and to occasionally pick new party leaders…or dump old ones as the case may be.

Some of that still happens today but it is not grassroots and local anymore. It is centralized by consultants and marketing machine politics. People are more removed from the political process and the public policy development dynamics too. Campaigns have changed and so have political parties, and not necessarily for the better.

I think there is a fundamental role for political parties but they have to take back the power and purpose of grassroots democracy away for the leadership and the “handlers” of those party leaders.

Transparency, accountability, openness are all buzzwords in the politics of the day because of the miscreants and the ethically challenged political players of the past. People are turning off voting and turning away from democratic institutions like political parties as a result. Democracy is a fragile concept that depends on informed citizens who participate.

Engagement has to be meaningful before people will take the time to become involved. We need to change the culture where politicians are seen as “powerful” and we need to elect people more personally motivated by an authentic sense of being a servant leader and stewards of the public good. We need wiser, smarter and better people in elected office but that starts with citizens demanding it and doing something about it.

To get that we need more meaningful opportunity for ordinary citizens to see acts of citizenship as a duty but also a right that they respect and as a privilege they value in a free and democratic society.

With new technology and communications techniques we have lots of content and context on the candidate’s websites. But with no time to attend or serious opportunities to see and hear the candidates we don’t get to know about the character and capabilities of the candidates.

There are going to be thousands of “new PC members” who are into the fray to influence the leadership selection outcome mostly for reasons of self interest – which is just fine by me. I hope some are prepared to stay in the party past the second ballot and to keep the “winner” accountable as active citizens who are meaningfully engaged in democracy. Who knows – we may even help make the winner into a leader too.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Strategic Voting and What is Best for Alberta

I have come to the conclusion that Jim Dinning has run the best campaign and is a shoe-in for the second ballot. He has the best organization; the most money, the most MLA support, a group of professional campaigners working for him and a network of volunteers throughout the province.

He has campaigned for years and has proven experience and capabilities. He is obviously going to be on the second ballot. That is no surprise. The question now is who are the best candidates to share the second ballot with Jim for the sake of the PC party and the province?

If we want a medieval morality play Morton and Oberg would be on the second ballot with Dinning. The social conservatives would press their boys – the “good Doctors” - to promote the “family values” agenda. That agenda is anti-gay, anti-abortion and a pro-God fearing culture that is tough on crime and big on punishment despite proven ineffectivness. It is a society where the government is the stern father figure that we fear and merely feign respect. It is an agenda that wants to make Albertans as close to being Bush Republicans as they can possibly get us.

I say that the 35% undecided Albertans and soft PC supporters who have joined or intend to join so they can vote in the leadership campaign can forget about voting Jim Dinning – he has the second ballot status in the bag.

I also say they should not forget about Oberg and Morton, especially if they love freedom and choice and respect, and inclusion and diversity. If they value and desire a nurturing caring society with leaders who see themselve, not as sources and forces of power, but as servants of the public good.

To defeat Oberg and Morton and keep them off the second ballot I say vote Stelmach or Hancock on November 25th as the best way to do that.

Imagine the synergy of the talent, experience and skills of Dinning, Hancock and Stelmach as Alberta's three key politicians working together. Imagine how they could help design the preferred future for the province and guide and govern us in ways that will get us there.

I have Hancock as my preference for Premier but at the end of the day I could see the Progressive Conservative party brand survive with any one of Hancock, Stelmach or Dinning as leader and Premier. I could see the province thrive with the combined skills, energy and experience of all three of them working together under the PC political brand, regardless of which one ends up in the Premier’s office.

People have to understand what is at stake here and be prepred to engage. They must show up to elect a Progressive Conservative slate to the second ballot, and not allow, by benign neglect, a fundamentalist republican opposition on to the second ballot.

I do not want a Premier that is a dictatorial bully. I know Dr. Oberg to be just that and have had my opinions confirmed dozens of times by people who also have first hand experiences with him.

Nor do I want a fundamentalist religious agenda as the lens through which Alberta sets its social, economic and environmental policy. I fear that perspective would be the point of view of Dr. Morton because, in the end, he “has to dance with those who brung him.” Prime Minister Mulroney knew that dynamic all too well.

Dining has done it. He is a given to be on the second ballot. Now, if you are concerned about the future of the province and the viability of the PC Party, if you want enlightened government and informed intelligent change then Hancock and Stelmach are the best choices to join Dinning on the second ballot.

I encourage Albertans who are social progressives and fiscal conservatives, and that is the vast majority of us, to show up November 25 and vote for Hancock or Stelmach to be sure they are both on the second ballot with Dinning.

That is the best was to make sure the best man wins. More importantly that makes sure that Alberta wins too. With a choice between Hancock, Stelmach and Dinning on December 2nd, Alberta wins no matter who ends up as Leader/Premier.

Monday, November 13, 2006

This Race is Far From Over - But Who Gets to the Second Ballot?

Ipsos Reid has done an interesting poll on the PC Leadership recently. They have not been asking who you would vote for but rather how favourable or unfavourable is your “impression” of each candidate.

Asking who you will vote for is so changeable and volatile and influenced by extraneous and often meaningless influences. Name recognition and recent media coverage can drive impulse answers and not necessarily reflect actual voting behaviours.

Asking favourable or unfavourable impressions generates more reflective, qualitative and evaluative responses about candidates. Not perfect but more informative of what people are “feeling” about candidates.

Our web based Policy Channel Survey “Send ‘Em a Message” asks for a deeper level of your thought about candidates. We ask how likely is it that you would recommend each candidate to friends and family. Now participants are more invested in their answers because they reflect back on themselves not just the candidates. Not perfect either but we get more than impressions and feelings, we introduced a personal reputation risk element when we ask for candidate recommendations

The comparison in results is difficult to make but here are the findings from each survey. Remember the Policy Channel “Send ‘Em a Message” results are not scientific because it is web based with self selecting participants but not random.

The first number is the Ipsos Reid Very Favourable and Somewhat Favourable aggregate percentages.

The second number is the Policy Channel Somewhat Likely, Very Likely and Extremely Likely to Recommend aggregate percentages.

Dinning: 56% 56%
Hancock 40% 65%
Stelmach 39% 43%

Norris 35% 25%
McPherson 30% 20%

Oberg 44% 17%
Morton 34% 13%
Doerksen 28% 19%

Dinning has the same level based on impressions and the likelihood of recommended to friends and family. Hancock and Stelmach are more highly regarded when one risks personal reputation by making a recommendations to friends and family. All other candidates are not as likely to be viewed as favourably when one has to “invest” or “risk” personal reputation through a candidate recommendation.

When the Ipsos Reid’s “Not Very Favourable” and “Not At All Favourable” impressions are aggregated then Oberg, Doerksen and Morton leave bad impressions with the most people, 38%, 36% and 35% respectively. The “best of a bad lot” winners are still Dinning, Stelmach and Hancock with Norris and McPherson in the middle again.

If Albertans start to think seriously about this campaign and about the characters of the people to whom they should grant their consent to be government then we could see a different outcome. Different at least than the conventional media wisdom and pundit wizardry is now suggesting.

Will that happen? The earlier Ipsos Reid poll said only 30% of current card carrying PC’s intended to vote in this selection process. Scary at so many levels. Nobody really knows what is going to happen. Citizens can show up to vote with $5 and a drivers license and decide on the spot who to support.

There is obviously a real potential a high jacking of this leadership selection process by a well organized special interest group if ordinary citizens do not engage. But that is democracy and we always get the government and governors we deserve. The Progressive Conservative brand is at stake here as well...just as it ought to be in a leadership contest.

Next posting will be on strategic voting and what group of candidates going through to the second ballot will be best for Alberta.

Garth Turner Talks Tomorrow!

Garth Turner has scheduled a news conference in Ottawa tomorrow. Lots of media speculation as to what it is about. Here are some excerpts of what he posted yesterday on his Blog:

“Predictably, there’s some speculation about the nature of my media conference in Ottawa on Tuesday. I’m sure a bunch of people are wondering if I’ll be announcing my decision to become a Green or a Liberal, or if the Tories have come to their senses and are begging to take me back.”

“Well, can’t say right now. But the event is important enough to make the trek to Ottawa and back during this week when Parliament’s adjourned and MPs are attending to business in their ridings. I have a few things to say, after receiving three letters on Friday afternoon (amazing coincidence) from three senior Conservative bosses. They affect me, but they also affect you.”

“But let me make this clear before things escalate to a new level. My battle now is not to get back into caucus. That’s done. Nor is it to punish the prime minister or my former colleagues for their actions. I’m just one guy, after all, and they hold the power. What I say matters only if it matters to voters, taxpayers, citizens.”

“On this blog and in this conversation we’ve been having – the one that led to the situation above – I’ve often said I just want to do the right thing. And who better than me? Too stubborn to budge. Too old to be intimidated. Too experienced to be impressed. Too jaded to be tricked. Too arrogant to be scared off. Too self-sufficient to threaten. And now, too pissed to quit.” (emphasis added)

I wonder if he is being bulied too and is standing up to it? Yes – the power of one to really change things! It has happened before and it will happen again? Is it happening now with Garth Turner?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

"Send ‘Em a Message Survey Report #3

With tomorrow being a holiday I thought it better to do the survey update report tonight. The order of things has changed a bit and the Environment is still #1 but is pulling away from the pack of the other issues most dramatically. It is #1 with a bullet!

The weighted score of the Environment has moved from 22.80 last week to 27.26 this week. A huge jump that is indicating the increasing concern and commitment of Albertans to the critical needs for government to be addressing the environmental issues around water, land and air.

Guy Boutilier the Minister of the Environment has very little respect in government, industry and ENGO circles. He has just gone against the tide and supported Oberg. He is one of the very last MLAs to make a choice and it shows how politically out of touch the Minister of the Environment is given the disasters that are devastating the Oberg campaign of late. Best update the resume Guy given your disasterous performance in this portfolio.

The #2 issue remains ensuring access to quality and timely health care. The weighted score is down a tad however, from 11.45 last week to 11.10 this week. A small but not insignificant change.

Third spot is the big shift area and Managing Growth has taken over in this slot at a weighted score of 9.97, very close to health care. The fourth spot is the Quality K-12 Education system down from third spot last week but also losing weighted scoring too from 10.04 last week to 8.04 this week – a full 2 point drop.

At the bottom end of the scale as to what survey participants are concerned about as important issue to deal with right away are aboriginal issues at the bottom with a score of 1.27. The next least critical issue is dealing with resource surpluses scoring at 1.50

Performance scores for the Environment improved to only 82% saying it was bad compared to 83% not being impressed last week. Health care ranking has improved slightly with 60% not being impressed, down form 63% last week. The K-12 education rating has improved slightly too a poor rating of 50% from 51% last week. Managing growth is moved up to the #3 issue but the performance ranking is still a terrible 87% negative rating, the same as last week. This is the lowest performance rating of all 15 issues.

Big payoffs for government would be to do something significant in the environment and the management of growth. Lougheed is calling for a slowdown of oil sands projects. Manning is saying we can and need to have solid economic growth and enhanced environmental outcomes at the same time. Both approaches have been resonating but no candidate has picked up those concepts and made them their own in the campaign yet. Curious since that is the secret to winning.

Take the survey - but give yourself about 5 minutes because you will have to do some thinking about what is really important to you.

What Now is THE Leadership Selection Question

What is next for Alberta? What is the next Alberta going to be all about? The choice of leader/Premier has a profound influence on the answers and outcomes to those key questions. Candidates are vying for attention but who has the right stuff. Who has earned and deserves our respect? Who is most capable to govern not just able to "win" the leadership contest? And ultimately, who is worthy of our individual support and our grant of collective consent to govern us?

You can have a chance to provide your answers and influence the emerging political and policy agenda of the next Premier if you participate in the "Send 'Em A Message" survey. So today, as you "waste" time on-line, no doubt in part to avoid doing the household chores, go to the survey site. Relax and reflect as you do the survey on what you think are the most important priorities and issues for the next Premier.

You will be asked to rate how well our politicians have been performing in key policy areas. Finally you will get to do some personal evaluating of the PC candidates. Not who are you going to vote for or who you think will win, but rather how prepared are you to recommend each candidate to your friends and family.

Who is worthy of your support and what would you say about each of them if asked about their characters, capabilities, experiences and values. Policy is important but the candidates values and character concerns are the real criteria for evaluation for leadership.

Tomorrow I will be posting on the results of the “Send ‘Em a Message” survey on Policy Channel. The activity level on the survey has increased as more people are wanting to get their opinions into the mix.

The survey takes about 5 minutes. Stick with it even though it frustrates you a bit. You will be required to make some hard value choices…the same kind of thing you will expect of your next Premier. So give that new guy the benefit of your input and “Send ’Em a Message.”

Come back here tomorrow afternoon and see the results, trends and shifts from the first 2 weeks of reporting.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Oberg Should Be Toast - Just Butter Him - Don't Vote For Him

Omigod - Dr. Oberg...pack it in! When the Calgary Sun turns on a right wing conservative candidate it is over. I watched the late September duet on CPAC you did at Link Byfield's Conservative Congress in Calgary with Drs. Oberg and Morton. Morton is the inheritor of the Stockwell Day evangelical political machine that took Preston Manning out of politics.

Ipsos Reid recent poll results ironically shows slightly more Alberta Alliance support for Oberg than for Morton - but the total number of AA types in the poll is small. Dr.Morton passes it all off as a tempest in a teapot. Some tempest! Some teapot!

The Oberg base is not gone just his mentors like Jon Havelock, Lorne Taylor and his advertising agency. they have left him! One would hope he would not have any new support growth and his appeal appears to be diminishing according to the new Ipsos Reid poll.

The "influence and leverage" he had - and used to garner "support" as Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation is eroding rapidly too. The classic case of how he operates and would govern is shown in the demise of the Legislative Grounds project review as reported by Paula Simons today.

Oberg has a news conference in February for the renewal of the legislature precinct. He does this with no budget or or agenda and priority approvals. He does without following any of the safeguarding procedures and policies. He just announces this - just as he has done for pet political projects in other parts of the province. Then he dares the Caucus, Cabinet and Premier to challenge him. Sounds to me like a recipe for an Alberta made Adscam situation.

Caucus tired of covering for Oberg and in March they kicked his butt out of Caucus and out of Cabinet too as a result. He is not the agent of change in this campaign. He is just a guy who prefers doing things in a kind of freelance self-serving way...not the stuff of leadership or the way to be a positive contributor to party politics.

Perhaps it is time for Dr. Oberg to polish up the resume and dust off the Stethoscope.

I wonder if there is a citizens based "skeleton crew" starting up to uncover some facts about Dr. Oberg's past political conduct. It is being done by the far right on Jim Dinning...I would not be surprised if it happened to Oberg too.