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Friday, October 30, 2009

Reboot Alberta is a Hit - and Hits a Nerve!

Reboot Alberta has touched a nerve.  In just under a week we are almost fully subscribed to the 72 participants we have room for at our venue in Red Deer.  We have had to shut down the online registration site so we do not get over booked on the weekend. 

There are a few spaces left and a number of outstanding invitations still open. If you have an invitation you best email bryna@cambridgestrategies.com right away with your name, email, who invited you, address and phone number.  She will reply on Monday for the remaining spaces.

It is obvious we will have to put on another Reboot Alberta event in the near future.  We have to respond to the enourmous interest and demand to rethink our democracy and governance culture in this province.  We will be posting updates and information here but also at http://www.rebootalberta.wordpress.com/

Thanks for all those who responded and registered so quickly.  Be sure you have your rooms reserved at the Red Deer Lodge too.  They are also limited and only a few are left. Be sure to use our event code in your invitation to get the convention rate.  Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Climate Leadership and Economic Prosperity has to be an Alberta Destiny

All Albertans and Canadians need to read the Pembina Institute and David Suzuki Foundation report "Climate Leadership, Economic Prosperity" released today.  Congratulations to the authors and thank you Toronto-Dominion Bank for funding the report.

There needs to be an open citizens debate about climate change.  It looks like Copenhagen is going to be a failure because the Amereicans are not ready and our Canadian government is too disengaged in getting the issues in a serious way.

So if the world fails to come to grips with climate change in Copenhagen, then Harper's hosting of the G20 in Huntsville Ontario in July 2010.  That will be the nest best chance to get something serious solutions happening on the climate change agenda.  Is Harper up  to the task?  Does he want to deal with the issue?  Will he even be Prime Minister in July 2010?

Here is book review on Green Oil, a book that frames the opportunity for Alberta to show climate leadership and economic prosperity.  These issues are just some of the policy and political questions that need to be discussed by Albertans.  One venue for that conversation is at http://www.greenoilbook.com/.

Hope you visit and share your views on the next Alberta.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Reboot Alberta is About to Happen. What is it and Why Does it Matter to Albertans?

A small group of us, including myself, Dave King, Don Schurman and Michael Brechtel are organizing a gathering of progressive Albertans (beyond left-right politics) in Red Deer at the end of November. The weekend event is called Reboot Alberta. This is one of many citizens’ based initiatives, including the ChangeCamp movement that is happening across the country and now in Alberta too.

Reboot Alberta is not about starting another political party, although the thought has been crossing a number of progressive Alberta minds. Reboot Alberta is an opportunity for progressive thinking Albertans to come together to connect, share and explore their ideas on what they see as important concerns for our province as we stumble and grumble towards designing and developing the next Alberta. I expect Reboot Alberta will also to consider how the progressive Alberta voice gets heard, resonates and makes a difference within the political and governing culture of the province.

My current view of Alberta is that the political culture of the province is stalled. The dominant alternatives being offered citizens are stuck in a useless left versus right competitive paradigm of political gamesmanship. The current political culture is effectively offering us two distinct choices. There is a chance to return to traditional model of top down, command and control politics manipulated by a hierarchy of authority. This option prefers to exclude alternatives, destroys diversity and stifles efforts towards innovation. It fears difference tending to see the world in terms of distinct rights and wrongs and “us versus them.”

Alternatively we get a damn-the-torpedoes unremorseful economic growth attitude of the currently dominant modernist model of Alberta political culture. This offering, all too often, has little regard for the long term environmental and social consequences of its commitment to bigger and faster economic growth as being better merely by definition. This "He who dies with the most toys wins" attitude of the modernist Albertan is a politically approved Ponzi scheme that destroys the social and natural capital of Albertans, while producing the added benefit of beggaring any duty to future generations.

Our current political culture, political parties and other institutional offerings to Albertans are so “the-day-before yesterday” in their thinking and culture. They are run by the baffled burghers who are like frozen computers, unresponsive to inputs and unable to perform as expected or even as instructed. They become increasingly unable to process and produce what they promise and are unable to help any enable Alberta o Albertans to realize its/our integrated potential.

It is not all their fault. It is what we as citizens have allowed (encouraged?) to happen. Albertans have increasingly devalued the place of politics in our society. We seem all too quick make a sport out of belittling politicians and more often than naught, default to attending to the most trite and trivial of concerns while we let the big issues pass because we can' t be bothered to take time and effort to comprehend. Hardly an effective strategy to attract the best and brightest of our citizens into public service as a means to ensure good government.

The organizers of Reboot Alberta believe we are a time where a policy and political reboot is the only practical way to get a fresh start. What is a progressive political and institutional reboot and what would it actually look like? Good question and the truth is we don't know. We will not know until we actually get progressive Albertans together to generate their answers. But rest assured we will share the answers, even though they are likely to be nothing less than proto-truths.

The thinking behind Reboot Alberta is that it is just a metaphor. But like any metaphor, according to "A Whole New Mind" author, Daniel Pink, it is only worth "a thousand pictures." Sharing the picture of the next Alberta, and focusing on how we see it, determining what is important to pay attention to and how do we come to best understand its meaning and propose on how to achieve its potential is all part of the metaphorical purpose behind Reboot Alberta. Reboot Alberta is not about moving more to the left or right, which is the shallow choice of the current thinking about our political culture. It is about moving forward. The real challenge is figuring out what forward looks like for the next Alberta and how do we achieve it.

A metaphor is only an invitation to use your imagination, challenge and change your perceptions and adapt your consciousness, and, in the bargain, to make some serious effort towards defining new meanings. Metaphorically rebooting the Alberta political culture is a chance to burst some perception bubbles that have taken over and isolated the powerful from the people in this province. Those leaders who are in the political and economic power bubbles are increasingly resistant real change. They do not risk encouraging new ideas until they are already proven. They are not prepared to be truly enabling of a better understanding or empowering people. They do not want to move citizens toward more political capacity unless and until they are assured, in advance, that those same citizens will still comply to the old power structures, even if only out of fear the power of the state and the pettiness of politicians.

This fear of the state is becoming more prevalent in the province of Alberta. Fear of our government is especially evident and growing amongst those in the public service, small business and community based not-for profit agencies that do government's work or work for government. This is perhaps one of the unhealthiest and disturbing trends in our political culture these days.

The political and economically powerful are so obviously more concerned about manipulating and massaging the message and their intent is to retain personal political power. The default political purpose has become managing issues for power retention, not the politically risky service of muddling through for the greater good. The politics of the place increasingly don't even try to define and design serious and significant new policies nor embrace new ideas that drive Albertans towards a better definition and destination we like to call progress.

The traditional media approach al; too often likes to focus on conflict and a superficial characterizations of politics as being about winners and losers. That merely adds to the citizen cynicism and confirms for folks that either indifference or subjugation and compliance is a preferred citizenship survival practice. The simple-minded KISS principle gets get preferential political application to complex public policy concerns. It inevitably makes matters even worse as good ideas as clarifying insights and commentary get discounted as politically impractical. Risks of punishment and retribution come from the politically powerful for merely being perceived as non-compliant or resistant and therefore becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy in a vicious downward spiral for our participatory democracy.

Like any operating system a reboot is a combination of actions that are about taking control, creating alternatives and determining deletions. Reboot questions are about what do citizens have to do to regain control of the political, governance and political processes in the province? What alternatives and new institutions do we need to design and develop to meet our better goals and aspirations as a province? What destructive elements do we need to dispose of and delete from the current political and governance culture to achieve the potential of the next Alberta?

Being a progressive citizen in Alberta today means you need to be ready willing and able to take some risks. You need to start thinking seriously and consider deeply the nature of the future of Alberta and what you want it to be. To merely wait for natural gas prices to recover as the game plan for the province is at best perfecting yesterday and at worst, forfeiting the current and real opportunity for transformative change.

We need to look at our entire political culture, not just the government. We need to consider what needs to be controlled, what alternatives do we need to create and what can we dispose of and delete in order to deliver us from the current frozen state of ineffective politics and governance.

That political reboot, if it happens, will have to come from citizens who have become complacent and disengaged in the politics and governance of their province. I expect progressives are the largest block of citizens who make up this passive and indifferent group. We need progressive citizens to reactivate their citizenship rights and take on a personal sense of political responsibility. We need to be personally ready, willing and able to re-engage in the politics of our times.

There will be lots of questions about what Reboot Alberta is all about. More details on Reboot Alberta will be provided at a new blog for that purpose at http://www.rebootalberta.wordpress.com/. Reboot Alberta welcomes your contribution to the conversation about these and other questions. Be aware, Reboot Alberta will not accept anonymous comments or contributors. Re-activated citizenship is not about hiding behind curtains. If you have a post to contribute, please send it to me at ken@cambridgestrategies.com and as long as it relevant, not legally challenging and presented in your own name, we will be pleased to post it.

As a progressive I think our challenge and opportunity it is not about making Alberta the best place IN the world but rather making Alberta the best place FOR the world. We have all the right ingredients to do this but do we have the guts and the gumption, yes and even the gall for the undertaking? We will be in touch, if you are...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ambassador Doer Is Doing the Right Thing

Gary Doer, the new Canadian Ambassador to the United States, recently came out with a very helpful comment about the importance of the Alberta oilsands.  He also noted that we all need to do a better job in how we develop them, especially environmentally.  Albertans, as owners of this non-renewable strategically important resource, have to be very engaged in its development.

Satya Das has written a blog post on the http://www.greenoilbook.com/ website where he explores the Ambassador's comments. 

Satya is speaking at the Woodrow Wilson Centre Cross-Border Energy Forum in Washington DC next week.  He will be speaking about the themes in his new book Green Oil.  He will also be meeting with Ambassador Doer to explore the implications and opportunities available for more responsible and sustainable oilsands development.

Do you have any questions or comments you would like Satya to pass on at these meetings?  Put them in the comments on this blog or the Green Oil blog!  Looking forward to your responses.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Is Danielle Smith A Game Changer in Alberta Politics?

As I said in an earlier post the political attention in Alberta will shift from the WAP Leadership of Danielle Smith to the PC AGM confidence vote on the Stelmach leadership.

I see the WAP overplaying their hand already claiming to being "ready to govern" in the next election, likely less than 3 years away. They have one MLA through winning a protest vote by election in Calgary. They have the underwhelming support of less than 8500 Albertans who could be bothering to even mail in a ballot. That hardly makes the WAP a "party of winners" as they are now claiming.

The grumpy old Reformer type social conservatives had to be embarrassed by the poor showing of their SoCon candidate in the WAP leadership results. One even more extreme WAP leadership candidate withdrew from the contest without explanation.  His anti-homosexual and closet Alberta separatist leanings didn't help promote what the new gentler big-tent party the new leader is calling for the WAP to become.

Smith, once selected to lead the WAP, was recently quoted as saying:

“Wildrose Alliance was seen even a few months ago as another marginal protest party. Now we’re the government in waiting”

“We’ve been doing a lot of cringing and ducking to avoid being labeled extremist. We should now stop. It’s undignified.”

But it's true the newly merged Wildrose and Alliance parties are full of extremists. Nice to see the new leader admitting that they have been "cringing and ducking to avoid" the label. It is not a label. It is the truth. The WAP can expect Albertans to cringe as this traditionalist political party tries to duck and hide from its yester-year discriminatory social policies.

I see the old-boys club of certain disgruntled Calgarians elites, who used to get direct and personal political access to Premier Klein back in the day, are now taking their shots at Premier Stelmach...including the former Premier himself. Shabby! I take my shots on the government too but I try to keep my criticism on policy and politics - not personality.

I was recalling the Klein-Betkowski PC leadership contest back in 1992. There were some elements in the Klein support base who said about Betkowski that "They were not going to be lead by that uppity educated city woman." Some of those same elements are now supporting Smith. I figure there must be some progress being made.

The biggest mistake we made in the Betkowski leadership campaign was to beat Ralph by 1 vote on the first ballot. The Klein forces came out of their self-satisfied shell and kicked our butts on the second ballot, even after every other candidate came to the Betkowski side.

We will have to wait and see if the Stelmach forces respond to the WAP in the same way by energizing and engaging. The reality still is the PC Party and the Stelmach government can choose to lose and even by the time the next election rolls around. If that happens then they will have both collaborated to engineer their mutual demise. November 7 at the PC AGM should give us some early warning signs as to what will emerge.

Danielle Smith's leadership victory and the recent WAP election result will be merely a catalyst for creating or the consciousness for change. She and the WAP are not necessarily going to set the direction or the destination from such change. There are other political forces afoot that may come into play. There may be a push for rebooting Alberta and designing a political agenda and alternative towards a more progressive direction and destination.

As Ralph used to say, "Stay tuned."

Odds, Sods and Green Oil Still #1 Best Seller

DANIEL PINK AT INSPIRING EDUCATION:
Really enjoyed Daniel Pink's lecture at Inspiring Education last night.  His comments about the rising influence of Asia and especially India align well with our Cambridge Strategies Briefing Paper on Opportunity India.


VOLUNTEER SCREENING:
The Editorial in the Globe and Mail on Excessive Scrutiny of Volunteers misses the mark as far as I am concerned. We have done some work in the need to provide criminal background checks on volunteers, especialy those working iwth children, seniors, disabled and other vulnerable citizens.  The costs to doing this in Alberta was estimated at about $1million per year and government resisted funding the checks.  Stelmach recently agreed to centralize processing and to pay for the criminal background checks for the not-for-profit sector.

GREEN OIL:
For the second week in a row Satya Das' new book Green Oil is #1 in the Non-Fiction local market Best Sellers List in the Edmonton Journal.  Learn more about the book and join the conversation about a clean energy future, especially for Alberta and buy the book online at http://www.greenoilbook.com/.  It is also avalable at Audrey's and Greenwood's in Edmonton. 

Monday, October 19, 2009

Daveberta's Thoughtful Post on Alberta Politics is Worth a Reflective Read

Daveberta and the Enlightened Savage have political insight and wisdom way beyond their young age.

This latest post by Daveberta on the Wildrose Alliance Party implications for politics and governance in Alberta is a quintessential example of what I mean.
http://daveberta.blogspot.com/2009/10/wake-up-call-for-alberta.html

Thanks for the great post Dave.

Alberta's Political Eyes Now Turn to PC Leadership Confidence Vote

I had a great conversation with Katherine O'Neill of the Globe and Mail yesterday on the Wildrose Alliance Party leadership and the pending Alberta Progressive Conservative Party Annual General Meeting leadership confidence vote for Premier Stelmach coming up November 7th.  Here is the link to the story in today's Globe and Mail.

I think the Alberta political media attention will shift now to the PC AGM leadership confidence vote but with the Danielle Smith WAP leadership lurking in the background.  The speculation will be rampant but pointless.  What is on the minds of the delegates and what do they see and the confidence vote "ballot question" is the real issue. 

There is a growing amount of grumbling in the PC rank and file these days.  It may be that I attract the griping because I speak out about political and governance concerns on this blog.  The big tent for fiscal conservatives and social progressives is wearing thin on both counts.  Walking away for $2B in royalties for no good reason other than to appease the Calgary based energy executive suites and at the same time to be calling for the same $2B in program cuts in the coming fiscal year captures the essence of why both elements in the PC Party are dissatisfied.

The Premier's political response to the embarrassing third place finish in the Calgary Glenmore by election was restricted to blaming the results on the bad economy and the rapidly expanded government program spending.  That presumption that the Stelmach government is not fiscally right-wing enough ignores the growing lack of confidence in the governance and leadership capacity of the current regime.  It also ignores the revenue problem caused by politically motivated giveaways and concessions to the energy sector with no positive economic upside for the provincial treasury and the Premier painting himself in a corner with a hasty announcement about not increasing taxes on his watch.

Now the cost-cutting strategy is to give token claw backs of the massive recent Cabinet pay increases as if that would provide some moral high ground to go to public sector workers to induce them to walk away from legally binding mutually agreed to collective bargaining agreements.  The not-for-profit community based service sector agencies doing the government's work in the volatile and vulnerable areas like seniors, children's service and the developmentally disabled are being penalized even more than the union based public sector workers.

Passing up non-renewable resource revenues in the face of market based commodity prices and putting the burden for that giveaway on the middle class and most vulnerable in our society is not good politics and even poorer governance.

Will this message come through loud and clear at the pending confidence vote at the November PC AGM?  My betting is not at all.  Even with all this crashing down on the shoulders of the provincial government and the downloading of the burden on municipalities, schools, hospitals, universities, community based not-for profit social service agencies, it will all be stifled and not talked about openly at the AGM. 

The first rule of old-school politics is to get re-elected and the next election is a long way off in political time.  There is a lot of water to go under the political bridge before Premier Stelmach has to face the people.  The "people" in the PC party know this.  The only thing that could cause Stelmach to face the citizens of Alberta earlier would be a low confidence vote in the party leader and Premier by the party faithful. That would trigger a PC leadership contest and with the party policy of one-membership one-vote process Albertans could destabilize the entire PC party tradition and structure.

The PC party faithful will stay "faithful" on November 7th if not to the leader at least to the PC brand.  To do anything else will only hurt the party, the province and destabilize provincial politics by unnecessarily increasing the already considerable instability and uncertainty of being Albertan.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Smith Wins Wildrose Leadership: Now What?

I had the opportunity to meet and talk with over 100 Wildrose Alliance Party members yesterday at their Leadership Convention in Edmonton. I was asked by the WAP Executive Director to do a presentation on social media, a subject that stirs my political passions. As an unrepentant Red Tory I wondered if the WAP (and I) knew what we were getting into but it was a very enjoyable event for me and the feedback on Twitter and face-to-face makes me believe the feeling was mutual.


The leadership campaign of Danielle Smith took over 75% of the membership support, a very conclusive result for sure. Congratulations are in order and I have to admire any citizen, regardless of stripe, who offers their time and talent as a political candidate in the service of the greater public good. The media was all over this party leadership, partly because of the strong showing in the Calgary Glenmore by election and the dismal third place shellacking the Stelmach PC’s endured.

The December 2008 Alberta Liberal leadership got minimal media coverage by comparison but the times were very different then. The melting Alberta economy was in full flight as the recession cum depression and commodity price collapse dominated the headlines. The WAP did not have the same media headline competition and in fact became the political story for a month or so before the leadership convention.

The leadership campaign voter and party membership numbers from both of these contests are underwhelming. In both the Liberal and WAP contest only about 71% of the members bothered to show up to vote. Does that mean 30% of those Albertans who paid for the party membership did so just to get the party membership seller off their back? Likely!

The Liberals only sold 6258 party membership for their leadership contest and 4599 of them bothered to vote. The WAP sold just over 11,600 party memberships and 8296 of them bothered to vote. The new leader of the WAP, Danielle Smith took over 75% of the voter turnout with 6295 ballots. One needs to put 6300 party supporters in perspective. Consider that in the 2008 Alberta election 37 winners in individual constituencies had more supporters than Smith did based on the entire province.

The WAP today is a long way from any reality as an alternative to the power of the Progressive Conservative support. The WAP knows that but the next election is 3 years away, coincidentally the same time Premier Stelmach recently predicted in his TV fireside speech that provincial surpluses would return.

One other very interesting implication from the WAP leadership was the party’s reluctance and tactical maneuvering to avoid disclosing the vote results. The pre-count concession by the very socially conservative candidate Mark Dyrholm was used as an excuse to avoid disclosing the vote results. They eventually unenthusiastically released the count. In fact as I write this, almost 24 hours later, the vote count is still not on the WAP website, just linked to the blog post of the Executive Director.

For the record, Smith got 6295 votes and Dyrholm got 1905 votes. This is a dramatic rejection of the anti-abortion, anti-homosexual, patriarchal, family-values political agenda of the far right base of the party mergers that became the Wildrose Alliance. Interestingly Dyrholm in a province-wide leadership campaign got fewer votes than Craig Chandler did in his third place finish the 2008 election in Calgary Egmont. OUCH!

This leadership rejection result will not sit well with the traditionalist base of the new WAP and I can’t see them going away quietly. Appeasement of socially conservative political agenda will be one of Smith’s first and toughest challenges as the WAP goes about the Province the hammer out a policy platform. There is already a WAP platform on their website that induced over 11000 Albertans to join up. What does Smith want to see changed, why and to what?

So now the WAP is a new party, with a new seat and a new leader. I think we need some hardnosed political perspective on the implications of this new party. I encourage every Albertan who is concerned about the future of this province to read the WAP policy platform and to reflect upon how it aligns with their values. If you agree, get on board with the WAP. If you disagree, you have a more complex set of political participation questions to consider. 

What if the PC's send Premier Stelmach a harsh political message at the November 7th party leadership review?  That will that trigger more dramatic consequences for Alberta than what happened at the WAP leadership tussle yesterday.  Time for Albertans to get ready for any one of a range of possible scenarios coming out of that crucial vote.  What the PC party says to Premier Stelmach then will promise to have a serious impact on all of us right now.  That political conversation will be happening mostly on Twitter at #PCAGM so sign up and tune in.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Harper Cons Put Party Logo on a "Ceremonial" Federal Government Grant Cheque

This is not governing - it is just cheap political gamesmanship.  Harper government putting a PC logo on a federal government cheque is not proper.  Can we ever come to trust these guys to do what is best for Canada and not just politrical power.  Sure it was a "ceremonial" grant cheque because the real thing would never be allowed by the administration.

Come Mr. Prime Minister, these are tough times.  Think about us as a country as you go about the nation spending borrowed money that future generations will have to repay for years.  This is not just your public relations stunt platform, it is about the viability and ability of the country to survive the worst recession in 70 years. 

Who in their right minds can trust this bunch when they constantly pull such stupid and insipid pranks?

Obama and the Problematic Prize

My friend David Kilgour published this piece in the Washington Post last week.  I picked it up on The Mark News site, where I contribute a thought or two on occasion.

David does a short and precise analysis of the context surrounding President Obama's winning of the Nobel Peace Prize.  He questions the the wisdom of the award and even more so, its acceptance. 

Obama has done a great job of undoing much of the hate and harm inherent in the former Bush administration.  His commitment to a bi-partisan solution to issues like healthcare reform have mistakenly assumed a rational Republican response.  Criticism of Obama's policy accomplishments after only 9 months in office are premature at best. 

Repubicans are stuck in the adversarial model of politics.  The don't want the best policy or even a good policy, they only want to win the political argument about the policy.  The power Obama holds in control of the White House, the Senate and the House. This will soon result in President Obama exerting some pure political muscle to make things happen.

Coddling conservatives for consensus is past. President Obama can silence his critics by flexing his political power to serve the purposes for which he was elected in the first place.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Today the WAP is Far From a Serious Threat to Stelmach, but Tomorrow?

I have been following the media on the class project poll on Albertan's voter intentions now, over two years in advance of a practical reality of an actual election.  Some perspective needs to be put on all this.  First, the results are meaningless in any practical sense of measuing voter intention when voters don't intend to vote when the question is asked.  What the polls does say, is the obvious, Albertans are tiring of what they are seeing as the ineptness of the Stelmach governance approach.

So what!  The media coverage of the Glenmore by election, the pending Wildrose leadership vote and speculation on the outcome add a publicity presence that amplifies voter attention.  But that is a far cry from settling voter intention when there is no election in the offing.  Take the results of such polls as good gossip fodder but not much more. 

This poll, and its results, could use a bit more scrutiny than the MSM has had the time, space or inclination to give it.  I found the results very interesting, especially if you go beyond the sound bite level of analysis.  The methodology in the study says they  took the sample of 1,201.  The admittedly deemed some sample numbers by "statistically weighted where necessary to even better reflect the demographic distribuion of the Alberta population."  This means where the sample size for gender, for example, was not reflective of the population in a region the researchers took the small unrepresentative sample size they had and apparently boosted its relative impact to make it look like it was reflective of the actual gender distribution of 50/50.  Why not do the job right and stay sampling in the region until you got a real gender balance outcome?

Here is what I mean.  If in the north region they had 200 participants but 150 of them were male, they would take the data from the 50 females and enhance the impact of that number say 3 times to equal the male data.  Hardly an accurate take on what may be happening in hte minds of females in the region.   They also don't tell us exactly where they did the weighting, how much they "weight in" and what was the base data results they artificially amplified.  Nor to they tell us the sample size in all the regional results nor the margin or error to be attributed to those results.

I would also like to know  the wording of all the questions, and the order they asked them in and how many people were called but refused to answers.  If they had to make 10,000 calls to get 1200 to participate we have a very high degree of self-selection happening and the randomness is weaker.

I don't offer this criticism only on this poll but on all polls.  The professionals make the same mistakes and the results are misleading and meaningless in the same ways.

Now lets look at those results.   The media reports are focused on "decided voters" but you have to wonder how one becomes a "decided voter" when there is no practical possibility of a pending election. Also the results said 957 of 1115 participants had already made up their minds about the next election.  A stretch at best.  With 14% saying they were "Undecided" and we know 60% of Albertan did not even vote last time it is hard to reconcile the high percentage of "decided" voters to these realities.

Therefore I think the more interesting and reliable numbers are in the All Respondents findings.  The second most popular option there is a combination of Undecideds (14.2%) and Other Parties (7.3), which is larger than the Wildrose support.  The "decided" results show that, for now, the WAP is a parking lot for disgruntled PC supporters.

The regional breakdown is even more interesting, but I have suspicions about its reliability for reasons already stated and it is not clear if the results reported are on All Participants or just "Decided" voters.  I think it is only on the "Decided" voter because the overall bar graph is based on the "Decided" voters but it is far from clear. I also wonder where the "statistacal weighting" was applied, why, how much and on what base data. 

That aside the rural north and south PC support is holding rather well in the 45% range.  WAP is the "threat" but it is not much of a threat at the 24% level.  Stelmach has not much to worry about in his country support if these results are accurate.  But the mainly rural caucus tht leads the Stelmach inner circle are spooked by these results for sure.

The real political story from this poll is in the big cities. We are told constantly in the media and in conversations that Calgary does not like Premier Stelmach. Well compared to Edmonton, they sure do.  He has 38% support in Calgary but only 31% support in Edmonton.  Calgary has decided the political threat to Stelmach should be the WAP at 27%.  In Edmonton disgruntled citizens feel the Liberals should be the threat at 27.5%.  The PCs and Liberals are essentially tied in Edmonton with these numbers being within the margin of error.  The WAP trails the NDP in Edmonton and that is the place in Alberta where change and flux of political fortunes are being played out.  Edmonton, not Calgary, is the political caldrun of a yearning for change based on these numbers.

The WAP is a political force but this poll is precious little proof of its power.  Premier Stelmach is in trouble with Albertans but the drama has just begun and the story is far from being told.  Read these opinion polls like you would poetry.  It is more about the imgination and imagery they induce than the facts they prove.   

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Reprehensible Greenwash on CO2 Emissions!

I am on a holiday in Hawaii but all of my surfing has been on the Net.  I could not let this extreme example of greenwash go by without sharing.  http://www.salon.com/tech/htww/2009/10/09/plants_need_co2/index.html?source=newsletter

And now out of Bangkok we hear Saudi Arabia complaining that they need economic support if climate change legislation passes?  Spare me!  Quit using oil profits to fund terrorists is a place to start revising your economy.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Albertans Want to be Proud of Their Oilsands Development

Here is the link to RebootAlberta where I posted the text of the Commentary I wrote and taped for CBC Radio earlier last week.  It will be broadcast on CBC Radio One Edmonton AM program at 8:15 a.m.  Give it a listen if you have your radio ears on at that time and place.

PM Harper Sings at the National Arts Centre Gala

OMG Prime Minister Harper singing and playing piano at the National Arts Centre Gala last night. He does a great job of the Beatle hit "I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends." He sounds at least as good as Ringo on the original version.

I thought the PM was opposed to these taxpayer subsidized limousine liberal artys-fartys galas. Now he cavorts with the socialites and the separatists and sings at galas. Good for him!

http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=20&media_id=3796

There is an election coming and this is much better than the pastel sweater image makeover of Mr. Harper in the last election. This performance rings true even if it is somewhat surprising given his well known negative attitude towards arts and culture generally.

Bottom line - I really appreciate this glimpse at the humanity of Stephen Harper. This is much better than the past tactics of slagging his opponents in nasty and negative television advertising campaigns.

H/T to AllieW on Twitter for the link

A Sermon on Saving the Planet by Father George Carlin

This morning's repast with my newspaper (aka tangible media) was full of Greenpeace Photo-Op Protestations and Premier Stelmach calling them "tourists" and offering them guided tours of our world famous judicial system. Then we have new reports of old ice on polar caps melting at unprecedented rates to a comprehensive analysis by Graham Thomson of the big engineering Carbon Capture and Sequestration projects to save the planet projects. Then I had the most counter-intuitive piece of all, Lorne Gunther writing about and delights of "whole food" in an environmental context and segueing to health care.

Then a new twitter Follower had a link to an old George Carlin piece on saving the planet. I love George Carlin for so many reasons and at so many levels. This piece is a perfect example of his acerbic and nimble mind. His bottom line is the planet is fine and will do quite well without our species as part of its future. He says humans, like most species before us are on our way to extinction and we are self inducing our demise.



Carlin is always profane, funny, profound and perhaps prophetic. Gandhi had the prescription for the disease we humans are inflicting on our habitat and other creatures with whom we share the biosphere "You must be the change you want to see in the world." All else is detail and discipline.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Design Thinking+Integrated Thinking= New Politics for Alberta?

Here is a TED Talk by Tim Brown that is a helpful provocation to consider in reactivating citizenship in Alberta. He says "The human need is the place to start." We seem to be lead by a Modernist model that says getting rich and having a job is the human place to start. Not good enough any more.

http://www.ted.com/talks/tim_brown_urges_designers_to_think_big.html

Reading the Auditor General's Report and I Feel Screwed by my Government


GOVERNMENT SHOULD HAVE SEEN THE PROTESTS COMING A DECADE AGO:
Cambridge Strategies Inc. was doing research for the Alberta Forest Products Association in 2004-5 on the risks to the forest industry's social license to operate. We met with the major environmental non-governmental organizations as part of the work. They told us then that they were shifting their activist focus from forestry to the oil and gas industry, oilsands specifically.


We advised the provincial government at the political and administrative levels and some key energy industry people we worked with. Industry took it seriously but did not know what to do or to expect. The government shrugged it off.


Well now we have "dirty oil" as the Alberta brand around the world and a government indifferent to the aspirations of Albertans who want to be proud of the development of their oilsands resources. Now, according to the Auditor General, we have a government that is indifferent and inept and husbanding and accounting for the rents the energy industry owe to Albertans for for royalties.


WHY IS OUR GOVERNMENT NOT COLLECTING ROYALTIES OWED TO ALBERTANS AND THEN CUTTING SERVICES TO CITIZENS?
The government of Alberta attitude seems to be that most clearly expressed by former Premier Ralph Klein who refused to review royalties when his bureaucracy recommended it. He said, " We get our pound of flesh" referring to the collection and accountability of public revenues from the natural assets and heritage of every Albertan, our natural resources.


Well that is far from the case according to the recent Royalty Review Panel and the Auditor General. The Government of Alberta and the energy industry has some pretty serious explaining to do to Albertans. And they now need to prove there is not corruption either. It is a serious question to ask about a government not doing its job to steward the revenues owed to Albertans.


Premier Stelmach, do not shut down a single hospital bed, cut off services to another autistic kid, or cut back on teachers, service to developmentally disabled or long term care needs of Albertans. Hold off on all of this until you can prove to Albertans that the cash needed to pay for these vulnerable Albertan has not be forgotten in the bank accounts of the energy sector.

Oilsands Project Protesters Are International

The Alberta oilsands are an international concern. The 500 dead ducks started the ball rolling, and the fact the truth was over 1600 dead ducks did not help. Now we see Greenpeace activists from a number of countries coming to demonstrate against the oilsands development.

That shows the level of international awareness and concern. It is a complex matter but one thing for sure, our Alberta government better have its act together by the time COP15 happens in Copenhagen in early December. The Alberta oilsands will be a target for sure.

Green Oil Book is Launched - AG Says Albertans Getting Screwed on Royalty Collection

The launch of Satya Das' Green Oil on Thursday was terrific. The books signing at Audrey's Books last night drew a good crowd. Interesting mix of people, politicians and journalists, not that the latter are not people too. We sold a bunch of books too. Go figure!

Last night we had Raj Sherman from the Alberta PC party, Edmonton Strathcona NDP MP Linda Duncan and Edmonton Centre Liberal Candidate Mary McDonald drop in for a glass of wine and a chat. Doug Roche, a true Canadian statesman, was in attendance too.

Traffic on the Green Oil website www.greenoilbook.com is starting and will grow over the coming weeks as we see Albertans start to take control of the oilsands agenda and express their concerns on the site.

I think the message in the book it resonating. Albertans need to get informed and engaged as owners in the oilsands to ensure it is developed on a responsible and sustainable basis and with a long term view. The conversation amongst Albertans has to start and get serious. The consequences of continuing to get the oilsands wrong are devastating as to many levels.

For one way we are getting it wrong according to the Auditor General is Albertans are out hundreds of millions of dollars in uncollected and unaccounted for royalty payments. The recent Royalty Review said the same thing but the government gave more industry even concessions instead of beefing up collection and accounting capacity on royalties. We are getting screwed according to the AG. Too bad he is leaving.

Put that sense of political and industry entitlement of big bonuses and "gold plated" gifts to departing government agency officials in health as we cut social services and hospital beds, Albertans better get more insistent on better governance of our assets and provincial natural resources too.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Lousy Report on Broadband in Canada

The evidence is overwhelming that Canadians are getting screwed by the industry providers of Broadband and Internet services. This is especially true of rural service. The cartel that controls Canadian broadband services is acting like OPEC more and more every day. And the CRTC has forsaken its duty to protect the public interest.

How independent is the staffing and management of the CRTC? Has the industry infiltrated it? I would like to see an independent study about the independence of the CRTC and who's interests they are really serving in some instances. People are starting to wonder.

Google Knows If Your Kids Have the Flu

Google Flu Trends is an interesting initiative that will be worth watching. The Social Media transformation of culture, society and everything related to it is gaining speed, as if it was not already a warp speed.

This Fast Company piece on the subject is worth a read. Anticipation is a big part of effective prevention. Governments and health officials need to become a whole lot more creative and nimble about what is going on out there and how to use the new realities...and not just in health care, critical as that it

(h/t to Sharon Matthias for bring it to my attention)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Green Oil Interview on CBC Radio "Wildrose" is About Citizen Engagement

The CBC interview with Satya Das on the Wildrose program was really good yesterday. Here is a link to the interview. http://www.cbc.ca/wildrose Click on the September 30 program and Satya is the first interview.

Rick Mercer Makes Me Laugh - Then Think!

I love Rick Mercer for so many reasons. Here is only one of them.
http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/Shows/The_Rick_Mercer_Report/ID=1280530740

Hat Tip for the link to Alheli Picazo. Follow her on Twitter @a_picazo. The follow me @kenchapman46