Monday, December 10, 2007

Chickens Come Home to Roost

This is a week of facing the music and the consequences of past choices and bad behaviours for some pretty high profile folks.

On the criminal front the convicted serial killer and pig farmer William Picton will be sentenced this week. The convicted fraudster and British Lord pinning to be Canadian again will be sentenced today

On the political front the Commons Ethics Committee has heard from Karlheinz Schreiber, aka the Artful Dodger. Now we are anticipating the testimony from Brian Mulroney, a former Prime Minister, aka The Eloquent Liar.

In Alberta the “colourful” Dr Lyle Oberg is reported to be announcing his “retirement” from politics today. Dr. Oberg was adept at sitting on political powder kegs and giving off sparks. Stelmach has run out of patience with the irrepressible Dr. Oberg. It looks like he is about to politically implode instead of explode as he goes out with a whimper and not much of a bang.

In theses examples we have some proof that the systems will actually work effectively on occasion.


  1. Anonymous1:19 pm

    Haven't seen a copy of the email that Oberg sent advising of his resignation, but according to the press (G&M), the content is cordial.

    At least it would appear that Oberg has the ability to bow out gracefully. It is true that he has had foot-in-mouth disease on more than one occasion, but if the email is any indication as to how he goes into retirement, it is something to be applauded.

    No doubt the ALP and the MSM (one and the same with at least one Edm columnist) will try to entice more out of the announcement. We'll see if they succeed.

  2. Anonymous3:52 pm

    Oberg sent an e-mail to his Progressive Conservative caucus colleagues on Monday informing them of his decision.

    "This is a decision that I did not make easily. However, I feel that now is the time to move on and seek new challenges. I will cherish the memories of not only working beside all of you, but also of the many friendships I have made during my 14 years in the legislature. I look forward to continuing these friendships and to the new experiences and contributions I will make in the future. I leave knowing that the future of Albertans is safe and in good hands."

  3. Anonymous5:09 pm

    Are you speaking for the Premier as it pertains to Dr. Oberg, Ken?

  4. Anonymous5:28 pm

    Anon 3:52 pm. I highly doubt Mr. Chapman will be as gracious as Dr. Oberg when commenting on Dr. Oberg's decision to exit the political stage.

  5. Anon @ 5:09 - I don't speak for the PC Party, the government or the Premier. I speak for myself.

    Sometimes I speak about a project I am working on professionally and I try to always make that clear in any posting or comments

    Recently I was working for a coalition of health care advocates and professional organizations on Bill 45 the Alberta Tobacco Control legislation.

    I made that professional relationship clear on some postings but not all. Some other Bloggers who were against tobacco control noticed it and quite appropriately called me on it.

    Thx for asking.

  6. Anon at 5:28 - You are right I am not as gratious as Dr. Oberg has apparently been. He has done too much damage to the PC Party and the Klein and Stelmach governments for that. Other damage he has done was to chidren's education through his bullying style that ended up in an unnecessary teachers strike under his watch.

    I am glad to see he took a high road this time compared to the "skeltons" road he took last time.

    As soon as Dr. Oberg is back in private life I will have very little, if anything, more to say about him.

  7. Anonymous8:42 pm

    As well, Ken does not seem to see the conflict between lobbying regarding tobacco control and openly endorsing the current health minister in the leadership race. I hope that laws are drafted to deter such overt conflicts of interest.

  8. You are right Anon - I don't see the conflict. Because there is not one.

    Please tell us who you are while you enlighten us with you perspective. Surely you need not hide your you?

  9. a different anonymous8:00 am

    Yeah, where is the conflict? It was not known in advance that Hancock would be health minister. Even now, it is not difficult to imagine someone with the Health portfolio knowing people who advocate for tobacco reduction... frankly I would be worried if it were not thus. Are you saying we want a chain-smoking alcoholic as Health Minister, anon 8:42?

    Lobbying is a natural state of affairs. The only difference is now lobbyists in Alberta will have to register.

  10. Anonymous8:45 am

    Two previous Health Ministers tried to get a smoking ban in public and work places but Ralph always killed it.

    Lobbying should have been subject to registration when first recommended about 10 or 12 years ago. Again killed by Ralph.

  11. Anonymous10:28 pm

    I think that anyone who is directly lobbying a Minister and has close connections due to previous partisan behaviour ought to, at a minimum, register at a lobbyist. I don't see this as extreme or bizarre - Alberta is long overdue for a proper lobby registration system. Ken's example simply highlights the need.

    Ken, I don't see why you are so defensive. I did not state that your conduct was unbecoming - I simply think that the public has a right to know which people are influencing Ministers who might owe favours.

  12. Anonymous6:56 am

    Here is Encana's capital spending plan for 2008. I guess they were not bluffing, Ken. And don't give us that crap that the royalty changes don't come into effect until 2009, because anyone knows that you don't drill a gas well based on one year's production.

    Higher Alberta royalties, tax increases and exchange rate impacts prompt investment cut in Canada

    A large change in the Canada-U.S. dollar exchange rate, increased labour rates, higher energy costs and significant increases in property taxes have made some of EnCana’s Alberta-based projects less economic, as compared to previous years and relative to the rest of its portfolio. In addition, the planned Alberta royalty increases starting in 2009 have significantly diminished returns for deep gas well drilling and new and emerging resource plays. Compared to EnCana’s preliminary capital investment plan for 2008, increases in Alberta royalties have resulted in a reduction of about $500 million of EnCana’s Alberta investment next year. Taking all these factors into consideration, EnCana’s Alberta drilling for shallow gas, deep gas, coalbed methane and its delineation drilling of new oilsands plays will be lower than in previous years.

  13. Anon @ 10:28 - not defensive about my direct lobbying wiht any Minister...quite proud of my work actually.

    I would love to register as a lobbyist and can't understand why the new Alberta legislation is going to take a full yer to implement. Makes no sense.

  14. Anon @ 6:56 am

    Canadian Business magazine reports Encana cuts its Alberta gas drilling because of “higher costs including labour and the province’s energy royalties.”

    They are cutting $500m not the $1B they threatened in their royalty review political gamesmanship.

    They also say they will put in $1.2billion more (doubling their investment) in Alberta’s integrated oil sands split evenly between “growing production and expanding heavy-oil processing capacity.”

    On a net basis, looking at all investments, Encana looks like they are putting more money into Alberta this year.

    It is a bit more complicated that just blaming royalties. Sounds to me like a they are now making sound an prudent business decisions and not playing politics any more.

  15. Anonymous4:54 pm

    I agree with Ken at 10:02 am. Albertans need to collect their fair share from the energy sector. If that leads to a significant reduction in natural gas royalties, corporate and personal income taxes and major job losses as a result of companies not proceeding with drilling in 2008 and 2008, so be it. It is about time the Alberta government tightened its belt and reduced spending dramatically. I'll bet we could take at least $500 million out of the bloated health care system run by David Hancock and it will discourage a bailouf of the those corporate welfare bums in the forestry sector as well. It is time to put the "Red Tories" who want to spend, spend and spend, back in their place.