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Sunday, September 16, 2007

EUB and Royalty Review Reports Coming - A Defining Week for Stelmach

This is going to be an interesting week in politics in Quebec but in Alberta too. The Quebec by-elections on Monday are getting lots of attention but they are merely that; by-elections. Likely to be lots of noise by signifying not very much as to indicating the future.

Alberta on the other hand has lots going on – most of which will impact or interest the nation. The next EUB spygate report is due for release this coming week and Premier Stelmach will be responding quickly to the findings. This is pretty consequential stuff. The way the EUB has been handling protesters and participants at “public” hearings in at least 2 instances is more aligned with fascism than citizen sovereign democracies. This needs fixing and I will have a specific post on the EUB from the Privacy Commissioner Report on Monday.

The Royalty Review Report is to be ready Tuesday. Originally this was a Stelmach idea that was commissioned by Dr. Oberg and retrieved by Stelmach who has taken back the lead politically on the initiative. Stelmach has said that he would make the report public as soon as he got it. Good move Mr. Premier. We don’t need these kinds of consultation reports being studied by government before public release. We can all study it concurrently and we do not need the government to have a position first. We need this complex stuff to be handled differently...like more openly.

I know the media will look for the typical short sound-bite responses but that is not good enough any more either. This stuff needs to be analyzed and the outcomes need to be designed to achieve identified and agreed to goals. Citizens need to see such significant reports in the first place not at the end of an internal government review process. This is risky in the current superficial political and media culture we live in - but this is the place to start to change that culture.

The Royalty Review Report authors say they are presenting a package of integrated recommendations that should not be cherry picked but taken or rejected as a whole. Makes sense in terms complex issues like royalties. These are not linear incremental issues but highly integrated and interrelated concerns.

Dr. Oberg has said publicly that the government (meaning him???) reserves the right to pick and choose from the various recommendations. This approach will likely lead to a similar result like what happened in the recent Affordable Housing Task Force report. A package of integrated proposals was presented to government to resolve affordable housing. The politicians in charge accepted and rejected various parts of the whole systems approach and the results were confusion and confrontation.

If the government does not like the Royalty Review Report recommendations or they want to put revised limits or refinements on the issues – they should do so - in public - and then send the job back to the review committee to revisit and report again. Do not deconstruct a whole systems set of recommendations based on pure political ideology and think that will lead to an effective policy design outcome.

This will be an interesting week in politics in Quebec and Alberta – both of which will have an impact on the rest of Canada – but in different ways. Lot to talk about this coming week for sure.