Reboot Alberta

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Business, Labour and Health Professionals all Support Hancock's Smoking Ban

The world of public policy can create some strange bedfellows. The support for Alberta Minister of Health and Wellness, Dave Hancock’s initiative to ban smoking in public and work places is a prefect example of this strange world. It is a perfect example of how people with significant differences can get together on issues and work them out.

Gil McGowan, the President of the Alberta Federation of Labour and Ken Kobly, the CEO of the Alberta Chambers of Commerce are both on side with the smoking ban. Their organizations are on record in support as well. The health and safety issues and even productivity issues are in the front of minds and are what drives such groups and individuals to get involved.

Go to Policy Channel ( and watch the various video conversations with each of them and see how they articulate the importance of this public health

The coalition of some 15 different professional, health and advocacy groups are getting going on letting their spheres of influence know this new Minister is pursuing the smoking ban. The Pharmacists and the Doctors are actively reaching out and engaging their members and encouraging them to contact local MLAs to get more political support for the smoking ban. The Dental Hygienists and the Nurses are also significantly into the public policy and lobbying effort. Then we have the heath promotion groups like Cancer, Lung, Heart and Stroke all want to do their part to make this smoking ban a reality in Alberta.

Bottom line is also the bottom line. The health budget in Alberta is up over 10% this year again and now some 40% of the Alberta government’s total annual expenditure. That can’t continue and the politicians know it. The other big selling feature for them then is the smoking ban will result in few cases of smoking related disease. That will help reduce that portion of the tobacco related demands on the health care system…saving money too.

It is a win-win-win and an issue that brings so many different kinds of people together to help. They all want to ensure that Alberta gets into the health prevention and wellness agenda as well as the best acute care and other health services. It is an idea whose time has come.

RCMP Decide Stockwell Day's Nomination Payoff is Still OK

The RCMP have decided not to investigate further into criminal wrong doing around the $50,000.00 payment made to a former candidate so their boss, the HONOURABLE Stockwell Day, could run in a by-election in 2000 as the new Reform Party Leader.

This may be the right thing to do but will Canadians trust the process, the people involved and the decision not to proceed? The official reason seems to be there is no new evidence. Let’s face it this is their boss they have been investigating. It is not a position the RCMP can look good in, regardless of their decision. They should have had another law enforcement group do this revisit of the investigation, for the sake of Day, their own credibility and integrity and for the sake public’s trust and confidence in the RCMP… which is the real test in such matters.

One has to wonder why that never happened because the RCMP brass may have just squandering the last remaining bits of its credibility. The RCMP have not been the most credible of organizations as of last with the resignation of the former Commissioner over the Arar dealings, the allegations and conflicting testimony on allegation of pension funds misuse and nepotism by senior officials. And then we have their celebrated political interference in the last election when the made a public announcement about the Income Trust investigation. That was arguably the ultimate non-issue that showed no political wrongdoing months later but the damage was done and it helped tip the scales that finally put Harper in office.

We have this all in the context of the recent court orders for a new nomination process in Calgary West over the “Affair Anders.” – who is running for the nomination again . The first instance and appeal decision both concluded finding wrongdoing by the Keystone Kons in how they manipulated the Anders nomination process. The news reports are that the Kons are is still thinking of appealing their Alberta Court of Appeal loss. Does that mean Harpers Kons are seriously thinking of applying for eave to appeal to the Supreme Court on this?

Give it up already. The Supreme Court has serious business to attend to. That should not include nurturing the hubris of the Kons of Calgary West.

I bet the discussions over late night beers in the PMO are putting this all together. they must be concluding that as soon as they get their police representatives appointed along with “their guys” to the Judicial Review Committees, then the "appropriate" recommendations for judicial appointment will be forthcoming. They will then be able to ensure that they will have a free hand on these matters. Never again will they be embarrassed or bound by the rule of law or have to suffer or even tolerate an independent judiciary. Then they can stop the “meddling” around issues of fairness and transparency in their party nomination processes.

Democracy? We don't need no stinkin' democracy!

These are scary people.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Who Can We Trust on Climate Change

UPDATE APRIL 30 - LINK BYFIELD of the Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy says "Between Harper and Stelmach, We have been Sold Out on Climate Change.


I was going to do a post today on who are we to believe on the environment. The mainline federal political parties all have some serious baggage but we need to think about the current changes we need to make to ensure our future as one of the survive species on this planet. Who in the current political culture is into that frame of mind? The Greens and Elizabeth May are for sure and Dion as a person is into this too obviously. I am not sure about Dion's party position though. Harper is not credible and Layton seems to be into the environment as a lever for policy influence more than an genuine engagement.

Instead of doing a post myself I ran across a really insightful and informative post on this topic. It comes from the blog Democratic Space. It is a worth a read.

The polls are showing we are so volatile as a public that they are useless in accurately predicting anything about our collective political future. In the meantime, without the silly seasons elections create, the conversations on climate change still have to happen. They have to happen in different context and the content has to change too. We have to engage more citizens and become broader and more inclusive and more informed on these issues.

Politics does not seem to be capable of ding this for us at this time. Too bad because all the decisions on these issues are going to be political at the end of the day.

Al Gore Sells Out in Calgary


Al Gore’s has just Blogged about his Oscar winning “slide show” presentation in Calgary this past week. Yes that is right Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" was welcomed in Calgary, right in the darkest heart of “the most carbon intensive sources of energy yet produced.” His presentation sold out in 3 days…hardly a cold shoulder to his core message I would say.

Gore is an admitted sceptic about Alberta and our commitment to CO2 emission issues but he admits “In Alberta they have devoted a lot more attention and resource to developing technologies to capture and sequester carbon….” That observation is true and more good news on CO2 efforts in Alberta is coming.

I agree with Al Gore that the issues are serious and solutions have to be found immediately. I saw him present his "slide show" about a year ago in Quebec. He had a few facts wrong about the oil sands and we had a chance to correct his presentation. I was sceptical about him too at first but for the full 90 minutes he spoke he had me on the edge of my seat.

One thing for sure that comes through loud and clear from Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" is that our values and behaviours have to be revisited and revised but as he says, “…the conversation has been taken to a higher, more productive level.” Nowhere is that more true that amongst thoughtful Albertans. Nowhere else can this oil sands emission challenges and the energy and water use problems and reclamation responsibilities associated with oil sands extraction be solved than right here in Alberta.

Albertan know and accept this. Now we have to get government and politicians in particular, to get it. They have to actually start seeing the parade Albertan and other Canadians citizens have formed around ecological issues so they can start leading from the front and not just be watching from the sidewalk.

McGovern Eviscerates Cheney

Tip of the hat of Ottawa Watch for the link to George McGovern and his great evisceration of Dick Cheney in the LA Times. A must read for any progressive thinker.

Speaking of progressives - I recommend you go to the link Canada 2020 on this Blog for some examples of quality insights and positive political thought that progressives are invovled in these days.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Harper and His Keystone Kons: Guaranteed Make You Laugh, Cry or Scream

Ok I can’t resist, given the performance of John Baird, posing as the bright light of the Keystone Conservatives yesterday. First he faxes his speech to the Opposition, then he does a photo op with a bunch of light bulbs and tries to diverts the attention from the insufficiently and uncertainty of his emissions policy. He still tries to compete today with O’Connor for attention, not to mention the ability to make it up on the fly.

The invitation to make changing light bulb jokes about the Keystone Kons performance is too much to resist. So here is one. How many of Harper’s Keystone Kons does it take to change a light bulb? None! They would rather stay in the dark.

I see the Keystone Kons believe outlawing the “old” bulb is apparently the equivalent of a save the world policy pronouncement. Since it will not come into effect until 2012 it breeds a potential and begs for a whole new genre of light bulb jokes. The Bairdisms is what they will be called. They will be based, not on how many it takes to change a light bulb, but how long will it take Baird to change one??? Apparently 5 years given his aggressive implementation plans. Yes sir that is a dramatic and decisive U-turn on enlightened environmental policy if ever there was one.

I can just hear the Jack Layton NDP minority government in 2012 chastising the Kons saying they had 5 years to change the lights (before they went out) and they “didn’t get it done.”

On a more serious note, I expect there is a feud that is now brewing between Stelmach of Alberta and Harper, of no fixed address, over who is going to determine environmental policy on climate change. It is a shared jurisdiction but my bets are on Ed not Steve. Alberta is light years ahead of the Feds on climate change, politically and policy-wise. I fully expect Alberta to take more effective and decisive initiatives, even with the interim intensity targets, as they occupy and dominate the climate change agenda and the emission regulation area.

Harper is sitting on a powder keg and giving of sparks in Alberta these days. He is just lucky we are such creatures of political habit out here. Expect Albertans of progressive beliefs and true conservative values to stay home and maybe even start voting Green in protest in the next election.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Harper the Deceiver

Harper the Deceiver! - The “report on human rights performance (meaning abuses) in other countries does not exist”...and then all of a sudden - voila here it is with the truth blackened out. Doesn't that make you want to reminisce about the "good old days" of the Bush administration in justifying Guantanamo prisoners without charges and no access to counsel and the final admission about other secret CIA prisons around the globe? Yup, and we western democracies are supposed to be the good guys.

We need to thank someone somewhere in or around the government for leaking to the Globe and Mail the complete unedited and unabridged version of the officially non-existent human rights performance report. Actually that is too euphemistic a way to describe what the Harper Cons have done here. We should call the Harper Cons "released" version of the newly discovered report for what it really is THE OFFICIAL CENSORED VERSION OF THE FACTS."

Harper and Co. can bring shame on themselves and their party (think Anders' "unanimous nomination" in Calgary West that was recently overturned by the courts twice, as a place to start) and I really don't care too much. Bring my country in disrepute and expose our military to war crimes accusations and the consequences and I care. Do it with such reckless abandon and with such and irresponsible attitude and I care. I really care.

The most generous explanation for this breach of trust and inexcusable dishonesty is wilful blindness and that is not governing, never mind good governing. Shame on the Prime Minister and his "brain trust" of Day and O'Connor. Foreign Affairs Minister MacKay is just lucky he was in China for much of this...and out of the loop, as usual!

We citizens are now being seriously played for fools by our federal government on this and so many other issues right now. I am including the Liberal and Bloc phony motion yesterday to force a pullout of Afghanistan on a deadline that ignores the reality of that situation too. The situational ethics of the NDP in this issue that was used to justify them supporting the Cons on this motion was also astonishingly cute by a half. We are not fools. We can see what is going on with our governance. It has to stop.

Get off the artificial sort-game election path and start governing for the future with a longer term sense of the difficult and serious situations we face in this country. Where is the honest leadership that will be straight with us and who will rise to the occasion with intelligence and wisdom?

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Don't Worry Harper is No Reptilian Kitten Eater.

I forget who was tagged as the “reptilian kitten eater” a couple of elections ago but the CPC official website wants to reassure us it is NOT Stephen Harper. Check out the Charming all new softer side of Steve Harper.

Next we shall see a sepia toned picture of him shaking hands with his kids. Yes sir…the softer side of Steve is on the make over. Does he want an election now or what?

Now if he could only raise some sincere interest in stopping the torture of prisoners we Canadians have some responsibility towards and may keep our troops out of a war crimes court it would be nice.

And another thing, is Gordon O’Connor turning into Canada’s Rumsfeld and is Stockwell Day turning into Canada’s Dick Cheney - or is it just me?

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Hancock Pushing Hard for Smoking Ban In Alberta

UPDATE APRIL 24: I have ameneded this post to correct a factual error. The original post indicated the new tabacco tax was $5 per pack of cigarettes. It is not. I am told the new tobacco tax is $5 per carton. I have changed the original post but thought people should be advised of the error.
The recent $5 per carton immediate tax increase in the April 19 Alberta Budget is the first step in an effort towards a province wide tobacco reduction strategy and is just part of the new Alberta Minister of Health and Wellness, Dave Hancock’s strategic efforts to promote wellness.

In addition to a tax increase, a proposal is being drafted by Hancock for a province-wide legislated ban on smoking in public places and work places. Further provisions will include a ban tobacco sales in pharmacies and to regulate so-called powerwall displays of tobacco products. Tax increases are as rare as hen's teeth in Alberta so this tobacco tax augers well for the political potential of a legislated ban of smoking in public and work places.
This public policy initiative is not new to Alberta. It has been tried 4 times before but never made it through the political policy development process. But with new leadership and the fact it is garnering significant public support, it may have a chance this time. It will still require the government Caucus support and there is still a hard core group of resistance to the policy. With good lobbying and good government, it could/should pass - ideally in this current session of the Legislature.

Premier Stelmach has said during the PC Leadership campaign that he agrees wit the ban but would support the Caucus decision on a legislated tobacco reduction policy. Four attempts in the past have failed primarily due to the objections of the former Premier and a block of MLAs who blocked the efforts. This time with new leadership and an evidenced based lobbying effort by a coalition of some 15 professional and advocacy groups (Smoke Free Alberta) and supported by polling showing 84% of Albertans support this policy it has a better chance of succeeding.

The Alberta Chambers of Commerce are first group off the mark in pushing the current lobbying effort for the Alberta government to implement smoke-free workplace and public place legislation. Ken Kobly, the CEO of the Alberta Chambers of Commerce, says tobacco use and its related illnesses impact worker productivity.Kobly, in a video interview that will be on The PolicyChannel ( Monday April 23, 2007, says that the time has come for a legislated province-wide workplace ban on tobacco use.

Kobly says Alberta is one of the few provinces that has not yet enacted province wide smoke-free legislation. And he says, while tobacco places a tremendous strain on our health care system and taxpayers, a large cost burden falls on employers as well. This is in terms of lost productivity, more worker compensation claims and the loss of employees in their prime due to smoking related illnesses.

If you support this policy initiative please take the time to contact your MLA and ideally meet with them, write to them or email them with details of your support. Website links to book mark to keep current on this initiative are at:
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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Why I Like Elizabeth May - Her Humanity.

Blogger Politque Vert provides a delightful interview with Elizabeth May done by a Law student at the U of S. Be sure you are not on medication – or other mind altering substances – when you look at this video…the camera work is pre-amateurish but the hearts are big and in the right place.

Dion Wants the Court Challenges Program Back

Dion calls for the reinstatement of the Court Challenges program cut by the Harper Cons. Good for him.

The Cons say “why would the government fund people who want to challenge official government policy through the Courts?” They also say the Court Challenges Program was not much more than a pool of cash for lawyers to access to irritate the government. That seems to be the extent of the rationale for Harper to cut the program. It has been cut before, by the Mulroney government and later reinstated.

The fundamental reason to have the program is to enable differing opinions to challenge government policy based on law and its interpretation, not political whims as the Cons imply. It is a very worthwhile program and one that reflects a mature democracy, not the stern disciplinary “father knows best stance” and Harper “is your daddy” of the current federal Bush-like CPC government.

In the spirit of full disclosure I have been one of the lawyers who have accessed the Court Challenges “pool of cash” in order to fight a government policy. We acted on behalf of a group of Franco-Albertans who wanted to exercise their Section 23 Charter rights for a minority French language school in Alberta. This action was contrary to the stated policy of the Government of Alberta, under then Premier, Peter Lougheed.

Lougheed’s government was one of the most enlightened of the day but the animus towards bilingualism and the sense that “French was being shoved down or throats” was still alive in Alberta in those days. The obvious political position of the Alberta government was taken and they argued that there were not enough French speaking people to pass the “where number warrant” test in the legislation.

The Alberta government fought us all the way to the Supreme Court. Our client’s, who were ordinary citizens and not independently wealthy, could not afford to continue the battle without the aid of the Court Challenges program. I believe we got the last funds from the program just before Mulroney killed it.

The “where number warrant” test in the legislation is what the case turned on. How to prove you had enough French speaking people to warrant a minority language school system was a big legal challenge to be sure. What was the minimum number of minority French language speaking people in an area that was needed to justify a school?

We had a stroke of genius one day and thought the maximum test for sufficient numbers should be the same number of students as in the smallest English speaking school jurisdiction in Alberta. Eureka! We found a mainstream school jurisdiction under Alberta law in Waterton Lakes National Park that had only 23 students but they had an elected School Board, a Superintendent and a full blown delivery system for only 23 student.

BTW, the Supreme Court agreed with us and we won the case. The francophone school system in Alberta is now well established, highly respected and thriving all over the province.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Stelmach, Hancock and Oberg's Fingerprints are All Over the Alberta Budget.

So the Stelmach government has really differentiated itself for the Klein days with this budget. It has strong evidence of immediate responses to well known and identified problems and towards some serious planning. The feedback Stelmach, Oberg and Hancock received during the PC leadership campaign has had an obvious impact on this Budget. The entire set of Budget documents are on line and I encourage you to read them

It is about the past, the present and the future. It has lots of catch up spending with almost a 40% increase in infrastructure funding for the infrastructure deficit and to respond to growth. It also adds 10% to current operational spending to deal with a 5% cost increase due to growth and inflation. It also sets up some longer term planning, a line by line departmental review looking at program efficiency and effectiveness and imposes some in-year discipline, something sadly missing in the Klein years.

The long-view is evident throughout the document including a commitment to find solutions to the various unfunded pension liabilities including the teacher’s pension plan which is one of the most unfair fiscal situations we have in Alberta. Some tinkering has been done in the interim but a major decision to take on the entire unfunded liability has to be taken. It will result in massive savings in the long term if the bullet is bitten now.

New and interesting items are a tax increase on tobacco. The 17% tax hit is the first salvo in a major assault on tobacco use in the province. This is the lowest hanging fruit towards better control health care spending and better health outcomes for Albertans. It is part of the new emphasis on wellness that Hancock will be pushing through the policy making process this session.

Another positive start is the embedding of about an 18% increase in the disability sector. This puts about $11.3B in the base for staffing recruitment and retention. Not enough but a start. Alberta spends some $530B on persons with disabilities these days and this program area will no doubt be seriously scrutinized for efficiency and effectiveness in the up coming Treasury Board review. As well the governance system is open to question too. The recent disbanding of the provincial board that represent the government in this area signals a further review in the regional governance system too.

A new day is dawning with this Budget. Dr. Oberg at a breakfast this morning noted this Budget was very much a Caucus document and involved direct input from MLAs because it was reviewed and designed by the various policy committees. That is more indication of a better sense of good governance changes coming from the Premier’s office.

Oberg noted this morning the next Budgets planning starts today and is already scheduled to be released February 14, 2008. That will be the election budget and we shall see how it differs from yesterday’s very positive document.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Alberta's Budget Looks Like Stelmach is Going "Full Steam Ahead"

It is Budget Day in Alberta. Indications are for record spending om operations and capital and proof the new Stelmach government is going to be big on planning. Albertans are going to be paying a premium for public infrastructure projects given the overheated economy, lack of labour and shortages of materials but the overwhelming needs that are being caused by rapid growth.

Some economists are calling for restraint and delay in such projects. We shall see what Finance Minister Oberg has in mind in how to proceed in a few hours.

I will be at the Legislature this afternoon to read the the documents and collect my thoughts. I will post my preliminary comments on the Budget tomorrow or late tonight.

This is Budget will undoubtedly be a dramatic change of course for the Alberta government and there will be lots to talk about I expect.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Appeal Court Confirms Ander's Conservative Nomination "Improper"

UPDATE: April 22, 2007 - Don Martin comments on Rob Anders in the Calgary Herald.

Rob Anders has to be re-nominated in Calgary West if he want to run in the next election. This time the nomination has to be for real! The Appeal Court upheld the original Queens Bench judgment that overturned Anders “unanimous nomination” for the Cons (no pun in ended) in Calgary West.

Anders lost – democracy rules.

Certain "party persons" who were found not to be acting appropriately are now resigning from their Calgary West CPC constituency posts. The whole messy business has to be done over and done fairly this time. The CPC better hope for its own integrity that Anders loses this nomination - but in a fair fight this time.

It is now proven that the Conservative Party of Canada, under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, can’t even run a fair and open simple single constituency nomination – even amongst their own party membership. This is nothing short of a wanton disrespect for democracy given the facts surrounding the Anders' so-called nomination.

The utter hubris of the argument Anders offered during the appeal is absolutely breath taking. Media reports say:
"...a lawyer for Anders argued that the MP would suffer irreparable harm if he had to fight a new nomination race in the wake of his disputed acclamation last summer. "He cannot fairly and effectively fight a new nomination battle while performing his duties as a sitting MP in a minority government.,"

The powers that were in Calgary West seemed to think rules are for little people and not the powerful people. How far does this reprehensible attitude prevail in the rest of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Why, with this now proven deplorable behaviour and this insufficient set of attitudes and values, would we risk entrusting these kinds of politicians with our consent to govern us. How can we expect them to respect and protect the rights and privileges of all Canadian citizens when they do not even do it for their own party faithful?

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Harper' s Senate Appointment Throws a Bone to His Base.

Prime Minister Harper’s recent heuristics are starting to show that he is really getting the hang of this symbolic political gesture thing. The two flags over Vimy Ridge and the idea awarding of the Victoria Cross to the Unknown Soldier are two stunning examples. It appears the Veteran’s lobby against awarding the medal to the Unknown Soldier has worked because it seems to have disappeared from the PMO’s agenda.

But now we have a master stroke. Prime Minister Harper’s announcement today Senate appointing Bert Brown, one of Alberta’s “elected” and so-called “Senators-in-Waiting” is at the very heights of political uber-symbolism - especially in Harper's Alberta.

Bert Brown is a nice guy and no doubt will be a great Senator. He is seen as a little single minded about Senate reform and has run, and won, three times in the Alberta elected Senators charade. He is a good man and congratulations are in order for him personally.

What is interesting here is the Prime Minister’s politics around the appointment. Sure the PMO couched this appointment it in terms of Bill C-43 and how serious Harper is about “moving forward on Senate Reform.” Don’t be fooled. This Senate appointment is Harper throwing a bone to his base, the CPC membership in Alberta, who, by the way, is seriously alienated from him these days.

Anger amongst the Alberta base is now to the point that, while it is still below the surface, the grumbling is now about Harper’s “betrayal.” He is seen as blatantly courting Quebec for personal power and ignoring the fiscal conservative principles of the party and playing for fools the very people in Alberta who feel they “brung him to the dance.”

As for courting Quebec, I would not be surprised if Harper is already in quiet backroom talks with his new best friend in Quebec, Mario Dumont. The leader of the ADQ sees himself as the “Prime Minister in Waiting of the Autonomous State of Quebec.” Dumont is flirting with opening up Constitutional reform where Quebec will finally sign in on the Constitution Act of 1982 in exchange for cash, and who knows what else. Is Harper taking the bait?

By the way, Prime Minister Harper, all of this would have been done by now, including an elected, effective and equitable Senate, if the Reform Party hadn't scuttled the Charlottetown Accord back in the day.

If Harper is serious about dealing with appeasing his Alberta base he doesn’t need to play with Constitutional amendments, or to entice Quebec or any interminable dance for Senate Reform. As an Albertan, Prime Minister Harper I have a couple of suggestions for some real changes that you can do it right now, without Constitutional amendments, that will really resonate with all Albertans.

It is high time to reapportion the seats in the House of Commons. Alberta and BC together have 64 seats in the House of Commons and the same population as Quebec, who has 75 seats. Alberta has a population of 3.3 million, and growing, but only has 28 seats. Saskatchewan and Manitoba have a combined population of 2 million and have 28 seats between them. Mr. Prime Minister, are you starting to see what is unfair with this picture?

Why not reapportion or create more House of Commons seat for Alberta and BC right now…before the next election…no doubt they would all vote for you and besides, it is only fair! And while you are at it can you change the per capita grants too? The population figures Ottawa uses for such per capita distributions are from the 2001 census even though we have new numbers for 2006. Alberta has added almost a million people since 2001 I’ll bet. Not fair, not fair at all.

Come to think of it Stats Can seems to be out on it population estimates of Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie by as much as 50%. Perhaps Alberta should do its own census and send the real numbers to you so they can be used in calculating per capita distributions for your Alberta.

After all you are not only the Prime Minister of Canada and Quebec's best friend in Ottawa, you are an important Member of Parliament from Alberta too. You can claim ad infinitum that your Alberta base has been screwed by the old Liberal government for the past 13 years. It is still being screwed today - and you know it and you can fix it.

Fixing those alienating factors for your home province will overcome any feelings of betrayal by your base given your romancing of Quebec. And it will be much easier to accomplish and more meaningful back home than Senate reform. You can do it and you should do it. But get at it right now, especially given the time you have left to govern before the next election. Time's a'wastin'!

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Democracy is Alive and Well and Growing in Alberta

UPDATE MAY 2 - The Editorial Board of the Edmonton Journal is into this issue today...and supportive of the changes Hancock is making in how the Alberta Legislature works as a representative democracy. As I said it is good to smell democracy in the air.

The “historic” (in Alberta terms) end of “closed-door policy making" last Tuesday is one of the most significant indications of the fundamental differences the Stelmach version of Progressive Conservative governance will be from the past regime. Alberta is the last province to have all-party policy groups. While this is hardly Poland's Solidarity or the former Soviet Union's Perestroika, it is clear in Alberta, The times they are a'changin'!

The new Policy Field Committees, with representation from all parties, will have the power to call public hearings and summon witnesses on any government issue. Ministers can refer Bills for scrutiny and apparently that is happening on Alberta's long overdue lobbyist registry legislation. Each committee will handle a specific policy area so they can develop some expertise and context depth too. A new level of accountability and transparancy will emerge. Another good thing.

Putting opposition members on the recent Affordable Housing Task Force was a foreshadowing of this new attitude toward good governanceby Premier Stelmach. The Task Force report has apparently been leaked but I would bet the source of any such leak is not any of the opposition members. They know they would be expected, and well advised, to respect the process, even if they dislike it. They have their various political means to influence and change such processes if they want to. Leaking documents may be good politics but it is rarely, if ever, good governance.

Yes there is going to be more open dissent and disagreement and more pure politics being played in the policy design process - but that is as it should be. We can now move beyond the risk of poor policy decisions being made through a small, closed, often single-minded, and too often, secretive process. This new openness affords Albertans opportunity for policy decisions based on a collective wisdom of a larger, more independent and diverse set of perspectives. And the best part, Albertans can watch, learn and better judge for themselves the actual policy process and its final outcomes.

Premier Ed Stelmach and Dave Hancock, in one of his many roles as Government House Leader, are an effective team. They both understand good government demands good governance. Both men campaigned for the Progressive Conservative leadership with platform positions on improving the policy making process. Last Tuesday they delivered some of those campaign goals. I applaud them and the other House Leaders in working together to reach this resolution that addresses, in part, the democratic deficit in Alberta.

Yes sir, I smell democracy in the air. I welcome this new day in Alberta governance and see it as a better expression of a mature democracy.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Alberta Budget Means the Week Ahead is Going to be Interesting

Adding Elizabeth May to my links should help Progressives who read this Blog to stay current with May's campaign and encourage them to learn more about her and the Greens. I am still thinking there is no pending federal election. This gives Dion and May time to establish themselves and to become better known. They sure need the time.

My sense is the more we learn about Harper the less trusted he will become. The more we learn about Dion and May the more we will come to respect them and the more we will learn about the critical issues and needs to adapt to climate change.

We have done some initial reviews of the community workshop findings out of the first leg of the Grande Alberta Economic region road show. We are in these communities talking to the full range of local interests and gathering insight and input from the key Alberta communities who will be hit the hardest. We are on the road again tomorrow starting in Drayton Valley then Whitecourt and finally Grande Cache.

The economic and environmental concerns are being looked at and considered in many ways by the province and the feds. The social impacts on the communities and this region are also important and have to be integrated into any mitigation and adaptation strategy. That effort really has to come from the commuities on a bottom up approach along iwth the top down from the senior orders of government.

Prevention of the beetle is futile. Mitigation can only buy time but not stop it. Adaptation is the key and time is of the essence with some estimates of peak infestation in the province coming in as little as five years. One thing is for sure, our forests are going to change as a result of the Mountain Pine beetle The industies and commuities that rely on them are going to have to adapt significantly to the new reality.

The beetle is now in Banff and Jasper and the policy there is to use prescribed burning to combat the infestation. Our National Parks are sources of great pride for Canadians. The reality of the Mountain Pine Beetle and its consequences means the mountain parks in Alberta are going to change and potentially very radically and very soon.

The coalition of various groups and agencies are now well organized. They are focused on gting legislated smoking bans in work and public places and to support the Alberta Minister of Health and Wellness Dave Hancock in this part of his wellness agenda. This is not a new idea in Alberta but in the past four attempts to legislate these changes it was opposed the Alberta government under Ralph Klien who always killed it at the political level.

Premier Stelmach and Minister Hancock are keen to see it pass this time but the Premier has said the matter must still have Caucus support to proceed. Hancock is gearing up to initiate the internal political process to legislate the public and work places ban, remove tobacco sales from pharmacies and control the"powerwalls" displays in stores where tobacco products are sold.

One suggestion from a citizen was that tobacco should only be sold in liquor stores making it a destination purchase and not a convenience purchase. He also noted who would risk their liquor license by selling tobacco products to a minor? Polls show Albertans what this to happen. It's about health and it's about time.

There is lots of anticipation surrounding the Stelmach government's first Budget. The disability community throughtout Alberta for example is looking for significant new dollars to recruit and retain staff that are at dangerously low levels. They have been meeting with MLAs Ministers and officials and have been told that new money is coming in the Budget. They are in a wait and see mode right now and nervously "holding their breath" for Budget details.

The situation is quite dire in many cases due primarily to the lack of funding levels to enable this sector to provide competative pay levels. The recent group home fire in Edmonton that resulted in a fatality of a disabled person was fully staffed and well operated at th etime of this tragedy. There are staff level shortages in many service providers all over Alberta that would not be able to deal with such an emergency effectively. It is that critical in too many cases in service provider capacity to meet service needs of their clients.

The political culture in Alberta that resulted from ten years of budget cuts and five years of political lethargy has to be changed. We see that Premier Stelmach is intellectually and emotionally ready to make the changes and he has initiated a wave of consultations and initiatives since becoming Premier four short months ago.

This week we will see the Budget and that will tell us how ready he is to take the real action to assure Albertans we have a new and very different kind of progressive government. I am looking forward optimisticaly to the Budget Speech on April 19th as both a partisan and as a citizen.

Recommend this Post to Progressive Bloggers

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Good for Dion and May

It is time to get serious about the implications of the Dion/May so-called Red/Green show. I have been waiting for this liaison to consummate for some time now. I am delighted as a Canadian to see a new politics start to crystallize with this collaboration. Who would not trade Lizzie for Belinda if you were serous about the future and good governance of the country?

I have scanned a smattering of blogs on this issue and listened to the local Liberal Party president Allan Armsworthy interview on the House this morning. He is a most reasonable and enlightened man in my opinion. It is worth a listen.

As for disenfranchising Liberal voters in Central Nova constituency well yes that may be true for a few folks but we are dealing with the Law of Small Numbers here. Everyone who voted Liberal, or for any other party for that matter, is not one of “them” and they did not decide to "join the party" as a result of their vote. They are just ordinary citizens who voted in a certain way and who made their decision based on any number of individual motivating drivers. Old thinking MSM seems to believe everyone who voted Liberal is a Liberal and they will be upset and disenfranchised. "Out of touch" is the kindest thing one can say about such superficial observations.

The real world sees about 3% of Canadians actually belonging to political parties...that is all of them combined. So those gladiator Liberal members in Central Nova, if you are ticked…go ahead and cry a river of angst and anguish but you know you will get over it. Besides May could well be the best Liberal you can muster as a preferred candidate anyway.

Political parties have too much power and influence given the sparse and clubby nature of the usually exclusive activist membership. That is true of all political parties these days. This focus on local party membership reaction over this collaboration is not the main issue at play here.

What is truly wonderful about this unconventional collaboration of Dion and May is just that. It is collaboration not a confrontation and it is based on an expression of personal convictions and values. This “unusual” move by Dion and May is not about power politics, the cult of personality or adversarial partisanship. It is not a back room deal and Layton has to desperately characterize it. It is about two pragmatic people with leadership ability, a depth of character and with genuine convictions who want to make a difference acting strategically. I applaud the move.

Lets face it we have a plethora of McKay types in the House of Commons and a dearth of May types. This is a designed effort towards creating a potential for a greater diversity of voices that the first past the post approach will not deliver. This is in and of itself enough to make this collaboration worthy of praise.

We live in a relational world not a hierarchical one any more. That maybe news to Harper but I doubt it. My guess is Harper just does not want to network with his own Caucus. He wants to command and control them. Given the value set and loose cannon proclivities of many of them, one can hardly blame Harper.

Dion and May on the other hand are post-conventional politicians and the first wave of a new kind of politics. Their collaboration is the first tangible sign of a new political order emerging. Heaven knows we need one.

ongratulations to both of them for this courage and wisdom. I expect we will see Canada better served because of this initiative. If not this coming election, then the next one for sure.

Recommend this Post at Progressive Blogger

Alberta Declares a State of Emergency Due to Mountain Pine Beetle

My posting on adapting to the Mountain Pine Beetle has been getting a lot of hits and attention. With this level of interest I thought readers may want to have more background. The report we did for the Grande Alberta Economic Region in January dealt with the economic, social and environmental costs of the Beetle to this region based on the devastating experience form British Columbia mostly.

I see Premier Stelmach and Minister Morton have declared a state of emergency because of the Mountain Pine Beetle. It is a good thing. Even the southerners are getting concerned and they are not as dependent on the Boreal Forest as norther Albertans are. The beetle is now in Banff and Jasper National Parks in significant numbers now too. that adds a whole new dimension to the problems. This is going to be a national emergency soon too I expect.

We have a video interview coming on Policy Channel shortly with Glenn Taylor, Mayor of Hinton and the Chair of the Grande Alberta Economic Region. If you are concerned about the biota at all you will want to see that interview.

Recommend the Post to Progressive Bloggers

Friday, April 13, 2007

Alberta Can Be Part of the Global Warming Solution and Not Just Part of the Problem

My business partner Satya Das published an op-ed in the electronic version of the Globe and Mail today making the counter-intuitive argument that Alberta is actually part of the global warming solution and not just part of the problem.

The flat-earthers and CO2 exhaler exalters have been commenting in full denial mode on the Globe piece. They have nothing to say that adds to resolving the concern. Because in fact any prudent precautionary principle demands that we act in appropriate ways to reduce the human influence on increasing GHG emissions. What is appropriate is the question, not if CO2 is a natural ecological element or a pollutant or a GHG - or not. It is all of those in fact. So what!

I am half way through a set of workshops I am presenting on behalf of the Grande Alberta Economic Region. So far everyone gets the reality of global warming and the immediate consequence they face is the reality of the Mountain Pine Beetle. Our aggressive policy of forest fire fighting has had the effect of provide enormous amounts of Beetle food as we have preserved and protected mature stands. Drought, forest fire and management techniques with global warming all encourage the ravages of the Beetle.

I have been impressed in my meetings with people in this economic region and especially with the real live issues they face. These are the first Albertans who will live directly with the devastating consequences of global warming. They will suffer significant economic, environmental and social consequence. The theoretical bleating of arms-length ideologues parsing minor points for the purpose of argument scores or debating points bore me.

If you are interested/concerned about the MPB visit the GAER site or Policy Channel often for updates.

We have to start to make very serious efforts and plan for significant adaptations of how we work in consort with the planet. A good place to start is to quit trying to dominate Mother Nature. She has proven to be fickle at best and inherently indifferent to our concerns and petty purposes.

The planet will do fine. It will continue to exist, even if it is significantly different than we know it today. It will still be "here." There is no need to presume that our species, or any other species for that matter, will realize and enjoy a similar fate the way things are going.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Adapting to the Mountain Pine Beetle in Alberta

I met with a group of community leaders in Edson Alberta last night and conducted a workshop on the reality of the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation on Alberta’s forestry based communities. I am on the road this week and next in communities like Hinton, Jasper, Drayton Valley, Whitecourt and Grande Cache getting local input and insight.

I was impressed with the community spirit and realistic attitudes of the participants in Edson. The local Member of Parliament Rob Merrifield came and stayed for the evening. He was very helpful and knowledgeable and gave some of the science and public policy updates coming out of Natural Resources Canada. Nice to see another politician who "gets it" in terms of how quality representational politics should be done. I was impressed and I am no easy "sell" on politicians these days, as regular readers know.

It looks like on the Alberta side of the issue the early indications are an 80% kill rate above the snow level from this winter. The bad news is about a 50-60% survival rate under the snow - and we had lots of snow in the forest this year.

Prevention is not possible. Mitigation efforts can only buy us time to adapt. Adaptation is the key. The impact is going to be huge on the environment, the economy and the forest related communities. Complex and challenging are key concepts that people are grasping and what to do and how to do it are the big questions around adaptation.

This MPB adaptation planning and execution is going to be one of the largest ecological, economic and social issues facing Alberta in the next few years. It is going to impact and engage all orders of government, all aspects of business and industry, every possible environmental element of air, land, water, biodiversity, habitat, just to name a few. As for community and society, the changes there are going to be dramatic as well.

This challange is complex enough that it is going to demand a true collaboration that is top down and bottom up at the same time. We have time to adapt provided we don't squander it. Bickering over if the science of climate change is real or not is a waste of this precious time.

I will give some links in future postings if readers want to keep on top of the developments in mitigation and adaptation to the new climate change reality of the Mountain Pine Beetle in Alberta.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Our April 8th Column in LaPresse

LaPresse 8 avril 2007

Ken Chapman et Satya Das
Les auteurs dirigent Cambridge Strategies Inc, groupe-conseil albertain en politique publique

The emergence of Mario Dumont and his autonomist agenda profoundly alters the traditional landscape of the Canadian federation.

In the middle of political uncertainty, the only certainty we have left is that we are all living on moving ground.

Yet this shifting terrain can be a place of some promise. Depending on the connotation and the meaning attached, the word autonomist can also be descriptive of Alberta – a desire for jurisdictional autonomy, in the context of a profound attachment to the idea of Canada.

In a sense, it is good that Quebec shifted away from deciding the old federalist versus separatist criteria. That division brought us close to sterility and futility. Any new channel of discourse, so robustly supported by Quebec voters, is preferable to the stalemate.

Even more interesting is the consensus among commentators that the rise of the ADQ reflects the politics of identity. If this is true, it has implications outside Quebec, in other parts of Canada where similar strains on traditional identity are very much a part of the social and cultural landscape.

Dumont’s ADQ tapped into the angst of rural and socially conservative Quebecers over accommodations around immigration, family values, distrust of elites and a fear of an erosion of francophone identity. Apart from francophone identity, these are resonant issues in Alberta as well.

Dumont’s campaign comments have been characterized as “a more prudent kind of nationalism” allowing him to play both sides of the federalist-separatist fence, yet his future depends on how an autonomist approach is elaborated in practice. If this is about demanding Ottawa respect provincial jurisdiction and a belief that strong provinces add to the strength of Canada, we are all for it. If it means isolationism, we are not!

We see Dumont today as a three-legged man. He has one foot with the federalists, one with the separatists and another planted firmly with Quebec’s social conservatives. Can the “real” Dumont sustain this stance for very long? He has to shift his political weight one way or another or he will risk looking indecisive and ill-defined as the inevitable next election looms large.

We expect the dynamics, timing, issues and even the outcome of the next federal election will have a lot to do with Quebec’s concerns as well. Harper clearly now needs a new “best friend” in Quebec. Jean Charest is not “the man” any more. Andre Boisclair is done, and never was in the running as Harper’s new best friend. Enter Dumont as the great Harper hope for a majority federal government—thanks to Quebec.

Dumont's support for Harper will come at a price in both dollar distributions and the devolution of powers to the province. He will force Harper to look fiscally like a profligate federal Liberal. Our guess is Harper will be bound and determined to buy Quebec’s “loyalty” no matter what it takes. Harper needs to “embrace” Quebec in order to win a majority government. The rest of Canada will not be amused and tensions will rise. Not an easy game for Harper to play but the recent federal Budget shows that every political soul has its price.

We live in uncertain times with minority governments in Canada and Quebec and with Ontario facing an election this fall. Alberta is at best a year away from an election and who knows what these elections will decide or how they will change the country.

Citizens all over Canada are expressing dissatisfaction about how they are being governed. Quebec is just the most recent and the most dramatic expression of this discontent. If this keeps up, we may have to declare that old fashioned command-and-control politicians a nationally endangered species.

Whether Dumont is the first of a new breed, or a repackaged version of an old-school politician, remains to be seen.

Harper Still Falls Short - According to SES Poll Results Today.

SES has just released a new poll. Nice to see a poll that relates to pre-budget and post-budget periods with sufficient time lapse to neutralize the impact of the media coverage bounce. Also nice to see nothing much has changed since Jan 2006 election results with respect to the relative position of the parties. Decima is a bit different and the Cons love to jump on one result and call it a trend. All other recent polling shows about the same-old-same-old results as in Jan 2006 and this SES poll.

At least Dion has maintained the Liberal position and the Cons are still unable to capitalize on the power inherent in holding office. In fact they are tied within the polls margin of error, if you want to take an optimistic view. Harper only wants an election if he can appear to be pushed into it. Give us a year more to see who Dion is and capable of, the same goes for what May stands for and if Layton can escape the gravitational pull of the NDP past.

The Cons have been able to buy an 8 point bounce in Quebec for about $4.0B in booty if you include the aerospace $900M announced this week. How long will that last with Charest saying it is not enough and a Quebec minority meaning they will be in constant campaign mode there.

The other regional results are telling too. The other key battle front is Ontario which sees the NDP and Greens eroding support and going from the highest uncommitted vote to the average...all of this repositioned support is split between the two major parties who are now neck and neck.

The West is most interesting where the Liberals have a 5 positive point bounce and the Cons are static and only 6 points up on the Libs. What is going on there? The West got nothing from the budget except dismay that Harper has turned into the kind of Quebec pandering politician that spawned the Reform Party in the first place. How much can he alienate his base before he starts to see them staying home or sending a harsher message over his CPC leadership status? That grumpiness about Harper is just below the surface...expect Ted and Link Byfield to be the lightening rods to hunt Harper down on this front.

Poor old Atlantic Canada can't quite grasp the changes or is it that they have the best contrarian perspective on what things are happening? They keep the Cons at bay with tepid but no change in support and they reduce Lib support giving it to the NCP and the Greens and then have over a 50% bounce in uncommitted voters at 11%. For those Maritimers who can't figure out if Harper is going to "punch or bore" them - relax - he is going to do both to you. You count even less in Harper's sense of Canada than the West does, meaning he does not understand nor does he care much about your wants and wishes as Canadians.

In conclusion nothing has changed in the minds of Canadians in the past 15 months as to keeping a minority government or if it is time for a new majority...but 64% of Canadians in an Angus Reid study says now it not the time for an election.

One big shift we have seen happen since Harper took power. We have a Prime Minister who has demonstrated very forcefully that he and his PMO is the absolute controlling factor in his Party. We also can see that his agenda is to achieve personal political power over the country with Harper as Canada's Cromwell. He will do this at any cost, be it cash, conflict, conspiracy or our national sense of social cohesion.

An Ipsos Reid study recently indicated 65% of Canadians felt they did no know Stephen Harper as a other words who he is and what he believes in and stands for. This is after over 5 years of seeing him in federal political leadership roles. Well in the past 6 months we have seen his tactics from broken campaign promises (Income Trusts and Equalization for example) to hypocrisy on others (wait time guarantees to disregarding the need for child care spaces), to buying Quebec support (the Budget) and a bullying political personality (personal attack ads to cheap-shot Taliban supporter accusations) in how he tries to marginalize and intimidate people.

We can now tell much more about who Harper really is. To my mind he is much scarier than we thought than even in the 2004 election. The key questions for Canadians about Harper is do we trust him? Does he "get the country" and does he have a serious grasp of the critical issues of our time - like the environment? Can we rely on him to keep his promises? Given his obvious hunger for power do we feel he is the right "fit" to be our Prime Minister with a majority government given all the discretion and power of that office? Does he have the kind of character qualities we want to see govern us as a modern mature citizen based democracy?

These polls show Canadians have not yet made up their minds on how they would answer these questions. I have. My answer is no on all counts.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Conservative Eye for the Liberal Guy

Here is a clever video - American but for the names and a few other changes the feeling for Canadians is the pretty much the same one.

Can Canadians be enraptured enough by the "charms" of the Harper Cons and Steve Harper be "made over" enough for us to want to give him a majority government now?

Identity politics and "regular-guy" candidates who authentically reflecting our personal values is what real politics is all about. So how much has Harper really changed and how far does he have to "work us over" so he can convince us he has seen the light. The "New Government of Canada" is so yesterday. Why? Well because Harper has kept all of his "campaign promises." That's right, all 5 of 'em and in a complete and timely fashion..don't you know? Time to move on.

The New Stephen Harper, the Primed Minister of the New Canada, that is what is next and what is so "now." Especially "now" since he has totally aligned himself with ALL the mainstream Canadian values, including integrity and transparency? A quick look at his record will "prove" that. Just make sure you only take a quick look and you only use the CPC webite as your sole source of information.

Is he worthy of our trust? Is he deserving of our consent to be governed by him and him alone. Of course! Steve Harper - there just has to be a majority government in your future. If for no other reason than Divine Right of the PMO. I just can't wait to have the chance to genuflect before my Prime Minister, the always Right, the occasionally Honourable, the "real Steve," the new Harper.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Climate Change Impact, Adaptations and Vulnerability

Here is the link to the latest Working Group II " Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability IPCC Report on Climate Change. I have given you the link to the “Summary for Policymakers." Everyone had better read it and even the full report would be best. Be sure you understand it and the implications. It is about to change your life.

There is every reason to believe the planet will survive but no reassurance that many of the species on the planet will survive the way we are going. One has to wonder if that possibility of species extinction also includes Man!

Harper's Latest Hoax: His Campaign Promise Over Wait Time Guarantees

Andrew Coyne in the National Post does a piece today (Harper Has Learned Well) that reinforces the point of this Blog post. It is worth a read.

Stephen Harper claims he has delivered on another of his campaign promises, this time over health care wait times. The triumphalism he presented with this “announcement” is pure George Bush in content and context and especially in his contempt for the truth.

Dubya, you will remember, donned a flak jacket, flew in a jet, landed on an aircraft carrier as a poser for the photo op in front of a banner declaring “Mission Accomplished.” Yes the world was lied to yet again in his declaration of victory in Iraq. One can’t help but ask just how many months - and deaths ago - was it that the world celebrated that glorious day for our security and peace of mind. We have to ask ourselves just how the Iraqi people have enjoyed, or should we say endured, their “freedom” and their “democracy”?

Steve’s wait time guarantee delivery triumphalism was more bathos but his claims of political victory was just as hypocritical as Dubya’s Mission Accomplished declaration. Wait times “guarantees” yes sir – promise made – promise kept, well kinda, sorta, maybe. For sure under in certain circumstances, perhaps in three years and in limited and modest dimensions, admittedly to varying degrees and in different ways in the different provinces but it is ideal, we think.

The provinces will always seem to take the money in the same old extortion model originally fashioned and perfected by the old-style Liberals. This is Harper using the same old same old way of the feds buying their way into provincial jurisdiction. This is after all Canada’s “New” Government you have come to know. They are the “quasi-Conservative” and “Liberal emulator” government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Yup it is the "fiscally conservative" and the "jurisdictional purist" Stephen Harper who is doing the extortion trickery this time.

His approach on this policy trickery reaffirms his admiration with the George Bush precise media message planning and the transparency of his political power plays. As for the provinces it seems we can always count on them to trade jurisdictional purity when cash comes to shove. You can all expect Harper to be out of cash by the 2010 due date, just in time for his wait time policy outcomes to be evaluated and the provinces will have to account to citizens on this Harper policy.

The provinces are going to wear the political fall out from the lack of real performance for any effective wait time guarantee outcomes. Harper will have moved on, in one way or another. If he is still PM expect the second shoe to drop and he will say that his government, unlike the former Liberal government, respects the provincial jurisdiction in health care and expects them to deal with their own problems on wait time guarantees. That is the way this federal encroachment has always worked in the past and why would Harper be any different now?

It is always the same game when the feds agree to pay for new health care initiatives. At the beginning they buy provincial inclusion and engagement and they always pull out when the going gets tough or they have changed policy direction to some other flavour of the month.

It always ends up the same way, just like the old Peanuts cartoon. Remember the one where the Feds play Lucy holding the football and the Provinces play Charlie Brown. Chuck always who knows she will pull the ball away just as he goes to kick it but he continues to take the sucker bait every time.

Rest assured these fresh federal funds are not the answer to wait times and will do more harm than good to the over all system. Every MSM editorial and commentator I have read have called this ploy for just what it is – political hypocrisy and election posturing.

Given his dismal record on keeping campaign promises and his bullying style of playing power politics, I wonder why anyone who is politically engaged, and not a card carrying CPC party member, actually believes or believes in Stephen Harper anymore. This video captures the essence of Harper's duplicity.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Enlightened Savage Strikes Again!

I continue to be impressed by the postings of The Enlightened Savage. The April 4 posting on the Agnishotri expulsion from the Alberta Legislature gives a full, frank and even "enlightening" review on what happened in toto...not just the shallow selected fact analysis of the MSM or most other bloggers I have read on the subject.

Give it a is worth it. I especially like the parallels he draws between this Alberta Liberal' s approach to the same type of innuendo smears that have been done on Dion by Harper in the federal scene. Harper is obvioulsy a master of stepping upto but not over the line. It would be interesting to see his butt booted out of Parliament for a day or so for such offensive allegations but he cleverly contains them within the "rules." Never mistake clever for wisdom.

Interesting that the Democratic Deficit in Alberta is being addressed by the Stelmach government in some significant ways. The recent agreement to open up the Standing Policy Committees for all party participation is a reform that is long overdue. Stelmach and Hancock have to be given the credit for this initiative.

The civility in Question Period and the amazing increase in the number of questions being dealt with are other more subtle but also very important reforms. Hell you can take school kids to view Question Period now and not be afraid that they might actually model the behaviour of the politicians.

Perhaps it is taking the Alberta Liberals some time to adjust to some good governance.

Canada 2020 Conference a Hit

My Business Partner, Satya Das, just returned from participating in the Canada 2020 Conference on “Who Should Do What in a Progressive Canada.” All accounts were very positive about the event with presentations by Slamon Rushdie, Wired magazine's Chris Anderson and Tim Flannery author of "The Weathermarker's" and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia.

A wider range of topics and all presenters and presentation videos are on the Canada 2020 website thanks to the event coverage of CPAC. You can view the presentations on line if you miss them on the CPAC broadcasts.

Progressives will want to watch the presentations and keep in touch with the Canada 2020 site for more events and updates. For example the book, co-published by Canada 2020 and Crossing Boundaries, entitled “Progressive Governance for Canadians” is worth the download and a read for Progressives and how we need to engage governance changes in Canada. It really frames the need for citizen re-engagement into our democracy and the power it would have once it happens.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I Am Home

Paris was terrific. Can't tell you about the business dealing due to confidentiality agreements. Suffice to say I am pleased.

I had most of Tuesday to myself. Having gone on a Hemingway Pilgrimage to the Left Bank haunts of him and Picasso and the Paris School in earlier days for dinner (the name will come to me...I have been up for 27 hours). Then off to the Rosebud Bar, another famous Hemingway haunt, just around the corner for after dinner drinks.

Then I decided to adventure the next day and to strike off one of my list of "things to do before you die." I spend the day finding it and the afternoon hanging around in the famous Parisian bookstore Shakespeare and Co. (is bookstore masculine or feminine in French?) That visit was a delight for a book guy like me.

As the wheels touched down the shuffle on my iPod played Simon and Garfunkel's Homeward Bound. More found poetry. I find it often. It pops up quite regularly when you keep your eyes peeled for it.

Off to catch up on some sleep in my own bed and off to work tomorrow. I will be back blogging regularly starting tomorrow. I promise.