Monday, September 7, 2015

On the origins of being "piss poor" Urine and it's confusion in politics

Jerry Bance the CPC candidate for Scarborough-Rouge Park, could be the role model for fiscal discipline: he is as you may recall this CPC candidate caught ON CAMERA peeing in a constituents coffee cup, though apparently not while the constituent was holding it at the door.

In days gone by when urine was used to tan leather, a family who had to collect and sell their urine to the tannery were called "piss poor" as nobody with money would admit to doing it.  It's still a fairly common practice in some places, mostly because it works and is environmentally benign so the concept itself is neither good nor bad and certainly no worse than selling a pint of blood, which also used to happen all the time.
Being in financial dire straights and trying to get out is never a bad thing, I do not however think this was the motivation of Jerry, I think he was lazy and just needed to take a leak.

His act of peeing in a coffee cup on national television will probably not impact his chances to get elected.  Left leaning Toronto, which even though it lacks so many basic services, people generally have access to toilets, or a least the privacy of dumpsters behind Walmart, and even in Toronto, peeing in a  coffee cup in someone's kitchen is kind of offensive.

There are certain upsides to the collection of urine other than tanning leather or losing elections: take for example birth control pills: imagine how many people who do not want to know what they are made of, thinking that PMU is an acronym for a chemical constituent when in reality its short for Pregnant Mares Urine, yup, horse pee, that people on PMU farms collect and sell to Pfizer, who make it into birth control pills.   Now while this point is not totally relevant to the Federal Election, but the ick factor is too good to pass up. At least that urine is collected for a purpose: to prevent unwanted pregnancies, whereas Jerry collected urine to prevent an  election victory.

Urine does not keep well, as anyone who has ever walked into a gas station bathroom can attest;  had Jerry used a mason jar and put it in the fridge he might have been able to argue that he was recycling and going to dump it on the compose pile, which as we all know is far better for the environment than wasting five gallons of treated water to dispose of 10 ounces of liquid. "If it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down" was the rule in my youth.

In the name of complete disclosure I have to admit I too have peed in many cups over the years; pre-access drug testing involves such a step but  I have never had a collection technician hand me his coffee mug.

The real lesson here is: the more you try to control things the weirder are the things you can't control the other lesson is be careful when you buy dishes at garage sales.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Nick Koolsbergen: the PMO staffer who personifies "past behaviour predicts future behaviour"

Nick is the Director of Issues in the Prime Ministers Office, (Yes that is a real job title)   I had forgotten about Nick, as  the last time  he did anything memorable enough to comment on  was July of 2013. 

Well he's BAAAACK!. This time interfering, or at least oblivious to the bad optics of talking to witnesses at the Duffy trial. Sporting a St. Louis Cardinals hoody that made him look like a kid who watched way more sports than he participated in, he "conveniently" had a conversation with one of the witnesses in the Duffy trial about the "weather."

Adding further to the notion that this group are stupid if they didn't know and dishonest if they did, there is no scenario, other than the death of a loved one when speaking to a witness in a trial involving your employer can be considered anything except interference in the judicial process.
Last time I wrote about Nick, I was referring to his penchant for telling MP's what to say on a regular basis from this I cannot help but extrapolate that as the Director is Issues he might very well be doing the same thing again?

Last time, Nick was telling Cabinet Ministers who they should associate with and who they shouldn't: The PMO denied it of course, but still:

"Nick, like lots of  cannon fodder before him, wants to get in the Mandarin class meal line, he thinks he can lead others by doing what he is told, but in reality the only this thing kid knows how to do is WHAT he is told. The question now simply remains as to who told him.
We could ask the cabinet ministers  but they will likely quote Carl Vallee the spokesman on the file who said:
 "We don't comment on internal communications, we are collaborating with our Ministers, especially new Ministers, to ensure they are fully briefed so they can continue their work on behalf of Canadian taxpayers"   
Well thank God someone is"
If you are a believer that past behavior predicts future behaviour there should be no surprise that Nick is hanging out at the court house talking to witnesses. somebody has to make sure they know what to say.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Uniting the right will capture about 5% of the voters in this province: sound governance and not making backroom deals will capture the otehr 95%.

Politics used to stand for something,:being a Conservative, a Liberal or even the NDP used to matter and often was something you could tell just by looking at the haircut.:
  • Stringy grey hair on a woman: NDP,
  • Using more hair product than your wife: Liberal,
  • Bragging about how cheap your haircut was: Conservative
Yet it seems that the various ideologies have all failed to keep pace with the chancing times and demographics in Alberta and arguably Canada.
If irrelevance and being completely out of touch  are a strategy then demonstrated no place more clearly than in the Liberal and Conservative campaigns in the provincial election.
Calling an election a year early and having a leader of a party quit the day before the writ is dropped and another the day the vote is counted shows just how completely out of touch the campaign organizations were. 
We live in a Costco vs. Wal-Mart, made in China world, brand loyalty is a thing of the past.
People do not elect governments they defeat them, or as in the case of the PC party, they do everything possible to defeat themselves and let the voters do the rest.
The various discussions  this week  about uniting the right are frankly a waste of time. Nobody beyond federal insiders much remembers the whole failure of the  federal Reform/Conservative movement to grab hold.  

Conservatives become far too conservative to agree with each other and often spend their time trying to "out right each other" where they might choose  to worry less about being right and more about what is correct. 
It is largely the enflamed ego's of those like Jonathan Denis or Kerry Towle who crave the spotlight so badly they can't even go away quietly. 

I agree with Redford, she isn't responsible for the conservative defeat, she played a part for sure, but she had a hell of a lot of help after she left:  Prentice, Denis, the aforementioned Towle, Smith, Anderson and an entire legislature full of people the public did not regard as trust worthy, they defeated them and in their place elected barista's, fork lift Drivers, 
marxists, death metal actresses and school teachers.
What is being said that the conservative movement is too deaf to hear?  A death metal actress wins an election she had no intention of winning; it does not speak poorly of the actress, it should shame the conservative movement when they realize the low regard the public genuinely held them.
Yes, a lot of NDP MLA's won the lottery on election night,  mostly because the right wing parties were too busy chasing their ideological tails to understand just how fed up the voting public was: "Anyone is better than these clowns" is exactly what happened.
It is the height of arrogance to suggest that creating a viable conservative movement is going to cause even the slightest murmur of concern in the NDP camp or amongst the public, 95% of whom do not align with political parties and never will.

The NDP do not care if the right unites:  they know that most voters understand that the only thing worse than a government deficit is a personal deficit. Harping about fiscal responsibility and not borrowing money to fix roads and build schools is not going to win support sufficient to accomplish anything.
People want roads and schools and as long as there is a remote chance the thing will be paid for before it's worn out they are good with the borrowing.
What people are not good with however are backroom deals to charge more to haul dead people in hearses, lies about airplane manifests or pave the roads in your own constituency first when you are transportation minister. These things are self serving and corrupt and if they aren't corrupt they look like it. 
If the  unite the right movement wants to begin with any kind of chance of accomplishing anything at all, they best begin with a cleaning of the right, purging everyone who was ever in cabinet and discarding the faceless power brokers who caused this mess.
If I were a predicting man, I would say the guy best positioned to form a right of center government in 2019 is Greg Clark,  not Brian Jean or Rick McIvor.  If you want to know why: look east to the place that's hard to spell but easy to draw.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Why gay marriage is really nothing to set yourself on fire over.

Now that American President Barak Obama has ridden the rainbow unicorn and presided over the judicial decision to legalize gay marriage, nothing much is going to change. I don't understand the outrage, or the consternation frankly, never did, but sometimes it takes the judiciary to keep the legislature from pandering to special interests; in this case the special interest being those opposed to gay marriage, mostly fundamentalist pastors and their well financed flocks.  This is yet another case where the tyranny of the majority was ruled out of order.

The majority being everyone who's not gay.
So here's what I don't get about it:
Most of the loudest pundits, like the preacher who wants to set himself on fire are probably only marginally attractive to their heterosexual partners and likely aren't on the radar of the gay. "Me thinks he doeth protest too loudly" comes to mind.

My grandson, who is seven, and I went to a wedding of his cousin recently, on the drive down he asked me if two boys could get married, I said yes if they are in love they can.  To him this was as complex as it got, no references to Deuteronomy or concerns that they will want to adopt. Just a simple kids understanding that marriage is about affirming love.
If we think about it, that's really all it is about. Sexual orientation is no greater a mystery than being red headed, tall or left handed. Science will explain it with a hormonal predisposition of the fetus in the womb, it has complexity beyond this sentence, but the point is generally correct. While we no longer think Red Heads are witches, I'm sure that in a few years this issue too will  fade into oblivion except for those affected by it;  if it hasn't already.
The other argument is why isn't there a Straight Pride parade? That's an interesting one and I think it best summed up by this:
"I have a dream that one day a man will be judged by the depth of his character and not the color of his skin."

Same rodeo, different horses.
The parade thing is really a show  about being released from oppression and predjuice and it's long overdue.
I am a partner in a company that sells vodka; Souvenir Vodka (available at many quality retailers near you and if they don't have it, ask them to stock it) and one of our most popular bottles is the one emblazoned with the Pride Flag. Yup, I sell gay vodka, now it is exactly the same vodka as is in all our other bottles, but we were asked to sponsor a gay curling event last year and we did by developing an appealing bottle, it sells well.
I'd personally, like nothing better than for a right wing preacher to take issue with our product, and to make lots of outrageous noise in the media. Sales might skyrocket and I will make more money. I would prefer they not douse themselves in it before setting themselves on fire, but otherwise go hard.
I am being a bit flippant I know, I understand the suffering and pain that has gone on before but I can honestly say that we are beyond it. I know of no one who thinks this is a serious issue anymore, it has become ordinary.
Good luck to everyone affected by this issue; get married, enjoy your life, live your life as in the sage words of my philosopher friend Gary the deadbeat boyfriend; "after 20 years it's all same sex marriage"
Get over it people, if you can't handle that other people are different they probably feel the same about you.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I am less concerned about the quality of the NDP government than about the quality of the third party in opposition. Change is hard....

I thought I should start my new blog series on the NDP government by offering a particularly humorous anecdote offered up yesterday in response to the throne speech by Ric McIvor of the PC party: 
"Ric McIvor, interim leader of the Progressive Conservatives, was critical of Notley on the corporate tax increase and for failing to mention agriculture, forestry, tourism and culture in the throne speech.
He slammed the new government for banning corporate donations, which historically benefited the Progressive Conservatives. McIver claimed the NDP is changing the laws to benefit itself.
"It is a naked attempt to tilt the political scale in the current government's balance," he said.
McIvor said the current system is more transparent in that donations from corporations are publicly reported. He said the new system could leave itself open to loopholes where corporations and unions could still donate through private individuals.
However, McIvor wasn't able to provide any examples of how that might happen."
I copied this from Facebook but I forgot where, so if you were the journalist who wrote it, good on you.
Now if I need to explain why this is so hilariously disingenuous, then  you won't find it very funny. It  is just so deliciously blind to forty four years of doing exactly the same thing and ignoring the hue and cry of the opposition when pointing it out.
I am worried that the PC's will not make a very good opposition party. First of all they have short memories and, second,  aren't very humble. There is almost nothing to gained other than delayed extinction, by going  on the offensive about anything, it is almost as though the Randy Dawson brain trust were still offering advice, but instead of saying "kick em while they are down, it's more of a "kick em while they are up" 
A better reaction would have been for Ric to have used a scholarly posture, rubbed his chin and said:
"It is a sincere, if somewhat misguided attempt at governance, but as our colleagues opposite are still new in their roles, we shall endeavour to assist in any way possible to provide a stable platform for growth in Alberta." 
Ric would have sounded like a  good sport and people would have said:
"Wow, classy party. they get their asses handed to them and are still willing to help."

Or at the very least Ric could have said:
"Yes cutting off corporate donations is inconvenient, it is certainly not a problem"
Thereby strengthening the PC brand as truly being the brand of Albertans, I don't think PC fund raising will be a problem much longer,  they will be as least as successful as the Saskatchewan PC party are.
It will be nice to see what a government looks like that does not give sole source contracts to it's friends in the business world, if  for no other reason than it doesn't have any.
I do take umbrage with the government however on the matter of taxes:
I make more than $125,000.00 per year and object to paying more because the government does nothing for me that I cannot do  better for myself.  Government is waste, and an inefficient means of wealth distribution where those who work hard and are productive are made to subsidize everyone else.  Now that we have given these people the pin number to the provincial debit card, expect that withdrawals from your wallet via  taxation will be a favorite tool for the next two years.
But I understand "It is a sincere, if somewhat misguided attempt at governance, but as the government are still new in their roles, I shall endeavour to assist in any way possible to provide a stable platform for growth in Alberta." 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Advise for the newly elected:

I see from the poll results that a lot more people voted for Rachel Notley than the local candidate. It's pretty standard stuff that people vote for the leader, then the party and finally the local candidate. This explains why we have elected the Hugo Chavez fan club, a member of the hard core 420, A forklift driver, a barista and such. Individually we might not have elected these people but just like the NDP cocktail waitress in Quebec who got elected while on vacation in Las Vegas, if you put your name on the ballot you have to plan for success.
Here are my tip for success:  
1) Remember the legislature is a big building with weird staircases and an elevator with a bullet hole in it. If you are on the stairs by the elevator with the bullet hole, you are going to your office in the Annex, not the cafeteria because you can't get there from there.
2) The doors to the chamber were made of Belizean hardwood and have good karma. Once you are sitting inside you would have to be stoned out of your mind not to get a chill of excitement when the Sargent at Arms opens them and you stand up. The first time this happens you will realize just how amazing and important your role is to the peoples business.
3) Learn the Standing Orders: These are the rules of play in the legislature and cover everything for hurtling insults to being expelled, to being out of your place when a vote is called. This chamber is no place for rebels. Democracy rules the day and has for about 1,000 years. So your weirdo ideas do not matter.
4) Do not dress like your old life. Ties are mandatory, as are jackets and cleanliness. if you ride your bike to the assembly, have a shower before you go into the chamber.
5) Anything goes in a members statement. I gave more of them than anyone else in my time in the building, you can say what you want so long as your do not name a member. Give as much recognition to your constituents as you can, introduce some group every day.
6) Seniors vote: buy  carrot cake on special holidays, do not be cheap and buy the white death cakes at Safeway, Find a good bakery and use them, seniors, especially those living in facilities get death cake and vanilla ice cream all the time, go carrot and Neapolitan.
7) A classy touch is to print your MLA business cards in braille. 
8) Perform lots of weddings,  nobody is mad at a wedding.
9) When you attend an event and are given complementary tickets, try to spend the value of the tickets at the silent auction.  That way you don't look like a deadbeat.
10) Serve coffee to your table, pour the wine too and learn how to do it right.
 11) Avoid buffet lines, limit yourself to two drinks, smile every damn time you walk into a room even if a dog just crapped on our shoe.  The MLA sets the tone for most events so be happy to be there, appreciate the effort people put into things and the fuss they make over you.
I have to admit that until the day I got elected I had never been in the legislature building. I learned this stuff from the caucus Yoda and pass it on to you because being pleasant and in the moment make the role you have very rewarding. You got elected because of the leader, this time. Next time you could very well lose it all by yourself.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Ten tips for those about to get fired

I have no idea how many MLA's are going to lose their jobs Tuesday night but I suspect it will be more than a few. And while there is no solace in unemployment there are a few tips I'd like to share about the art of the successful firing.
1) It isn't about you personally but you ran on  party banner and in some way you did contribute to the situation that led to the firing. You are personally responsible for your own results.
2) Don't be an ass, if you lose, do it with grace and accept the result of the electorate.  Don't go on a Facebook rant or social media frenzy about how bad the new guy will be, what you say about them in those critical hours of May 5th will haunt you for a long time to come.
3) Decompress, let your team do their job and get all your lawn signs picked up by Saturday.
4) If you were elected prior to 2012, you get a hefty transition allowance so your financial landing will be soft.
5) Your constituency manager does not get a transition allowance so don't bitch too loud. That person put up with a lot of crap, worked a lot of unpaid hours and deserves your thanks.
6) Being a former MLA is a nice thing in the private sector, but it's not a qualification for anything.
7) Consulting gigs are rare and hard to come by, the value your influence or experience is higher  in your mind than in the anyone else's.
8) Your phone will go silent, you will get a consolation call or two, but otherwise no one really wants to talk to the former MLA. You will discover that people called you when you were MLA to get something, now that you are not an MLA the only people who will call are those who called you before you got elected.
9) Pick carefully the memento's you keep, don't let this losing spoil what was, until this election, a great experience.
10) Don't blame the voters.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Why I'm a Groucho Marxist

Groucho Marxism is the newest movement in politics. Or a really old one depending on your view of such things. The mantra of the new party is very simple:
"I do not want to belong to any party that would have me as a member"
I have become increasingly frustrated by ideology and the apparent assumption that the party knows best. Political parties, are exclusionary by design, most people do not belong to one and even less understand the inherit risks associated with them.
I will paraphrase the risks in an overly dramatic fashion:
In the early 1930's Adolph Hitler organized a group called the NAZI party. At no time did this party represent the views of the majority of Germans, it was a splinter group of white supremist radicals that used muscle and intimidation to control election results. If you were not a supporter you were taking your life in your hands trying to vote, the risk of physical harm kept people away from voting in droves and was a very effective tool in getting the small group into and holding onto power.
Similar things occur, not so much on voting day, but certainly during nominations. Crowds of people, plugging parking lots or sending false voting instructions are all minor examples of exactly the same strategy.  This is why I will no longer belong to any single political party. I am in the somewhat unique position of having won an election unexpectedly and have friends who have similar feelings or experiences with party politics, either as former members of a caucus or as former senior ministers reduced to back benches while valiantly resisting being pushed right out the door.
Candidate vetting, which was ramped up substantially this election, includes the use  of private detectives, not for the protection of the public but for the protection of the party. Controversial individuals are as unwelcome as a cold sore on prom night. The preferred candidates are malleable, squeaky clean and nice shiny representations of the party.
Now I agree that convicted felons might not be the ideal candidates, but the reality is that everyone has something in their past that best stay there. I for one, do not want to know the details of the Jamie Lall restraining order. Something that happened eight years ago can hardly be considered representative of character, yet it was apparently enough, and while the party machine can control a lot using the carrot and the stick, they lose control of those who are on the outside and can only hope to keep them quiet by increasing the size of the stick.
While not the same as physical assaults witnessed in Germany in the 1930's, the end result is the same: muzzled politicians, government employees and party officials.  Civil libertarians want people to be free to speak, but politics is not a democratic process. This factor, the limitation of democracy in politics has created numerous strange bedfellows over the years and is quite likely going to create a three way in the bed that is the Alberta Legislature. It will be interesting indeed to see how the Wild rose, NDP and PC's cohabitate if the polls are even remotely close to being accurate. Cutting across party lines is the best thing that could happen in our legislature; cooperation replacing adversarial confrontation will make question period a lot less interesting but will probably result in more reasoned, rational and accountable legislation endorsed by at least two thirds of the parties in the house. (If the liberals survive, half)

And because of the varied interests of the parties, todays bedmate may not be tomorrows bedmate but everyone will have to behave if they expect to get invited a second time.

Coalitions and minorities are not bad or wrong, they are only feared by those in power: put simply, If I am the winner in a win lose situation I have no incentive to care about win-win.   If I am not on the win side I have a huge incentive.

I do not believe there is any golden child in party politics. While I am a birthright Republican I don't  think that any one ideology necessarily reflects all of my views. So I said farewell to parties and the system of leverages and said hello to the notion that I will either belong to no party or all of them. My money however, will never go to a party, it will only go to deserving candidates.

I'd say join me in the Groucho Marxist movement, but anyone who takes the idea of being a Groucho Marxist seriously wouldn't join anyway.

Good luck on Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

It just got interesting...............

The game changer may  have occurred yesterday. School Board Trustees, the group long considered the entry level to elected office, are protesting in public over the Provincial Governments budget and the damage they perceive it will do to service delivery in the class room.
This is a good way to lose an election.
Like it or not, we live in a society where every kid is special, where participation is rewarded over winning and where failure is not the preferred option.  So if you want to annoy parents, the simplest way to do it is to pick on their kids.
The Trustees are telling the public just that. "government you are picking on the kids" Edmonton Public and Catholic school boards will have to deal with over four thousand new enrollments this year that are unfunded. School boards in other jurisdictions are worse off.
Now four thousand kids amongst a population of well over 150,000, is not incrementally a huge increase, but it is an increase none the less and it does no good to talk statistics or percentages when every statistic has a first and last name.
The government will fire back telling the boards to fund growth with their reserves which leaves nothing for the future and aside from funding the increase teachers received in their last collective agreement negotiation there will be no new money. Your kids are going to feel the pinch.
I particularly like this move by the Trustees, even if I am not completely certain of the data behind it, because this might very well be their one and only opportunity to stand up and make some noise about the issues they are facing.
This will resonate much louder with the public than calls for increased MSI funding or more money for LRT, or even, frankly, health care, because every day the problem will come home with a tattered text book.
When one level of government, school boards, is completely dependent on another level of government for funding, the province, conflicts are inevitable but so are the consequences of biting the hand that feeds. In this case, I do think the proliferation of lawn signs that are not Tory blue might be part of the incentive behind it.
If I were cynical, I might suggest that the proliferation of orange signs and the general propensity of Trustees to lean in that direction, might make this an orchestrated political campaign move but in fairness, the boards have a genuine issue here. Ignoring growth is not a recipe for success in any circumstance.
Ignoring the voters most affected by  the growth is a recipe for disaster.
So whatever the motivation, the Trustees are right, it will get voters out and it may not get voters out in a way that helps the government.
A good MLA works the schools, knowing that a fridge magnet given to a sixth grader goes straight home and onto the fridge while a fridge magnet given to an adult typically goes straight into the garbage.  Care about the kids, aspiring MLA's and the parents will care about you.
This could be the election when education becomes the game changer.

Monday, April 20, 2015

It's not the number of lawn signs that should worry you; it's where they are that should worry you.

In 2008, I was asked why my opponent had more lawn signs than I did. I replied simply, "what difference, signs don't vote".  After driving back from Lethbridge on the weekend I'm inclined to revise my opinion: Lawn signs are only an indication of support when they are on private property and a large the sign nailed to a fence indicates strong support at that house.  In Edmonton, it does not bode well for anyone except the NDP.
I have favorite candidates in three parties and I happen to think that a minority PC government might not be such a bad way to go. Forcing coalitions amongst the right and left ends of the spectrum could, in fact, give us the means to do a few things that really need to be done:
  • Control the bottomless pit called Universal Healthcare before it kills us all.
  • Take up the GST reduction gap from seven to five percent and introduce a provincial sales tax of two percent.
  • Cap government spending at inflation plus population growth.
  • Adjust royalties equally in all sectors; Prentice and Campbell  avoided increasing the royalty on oil, but NOT on gravel, timber or any other natural resource. This is a calculated insincerity that deserves scrutiny.
  • Consolidate the delivery of education by amalgamating Public, Catholic and Francophone school boards. I'm sure the people running them are smart enough to figure out how to keep religious equity intact.
  • Develop and stick to a plan beyond the Four year election cycle. Nobody remembers the last ten year plan. I think it was to end homelessness or something, anyway, it didn't work.
 When a governing party, is controlled by polling, as is the PC party, their policies will adapt to reflect the strongest emotions demonstrated the public. Emotion is a terrible way to make policy of any kind, it is a bad reason alone to get married, buy a car and is really suited only to choosing a flavor of ice cream. It has it's place, but long term planning and planning for the future is not an emotional activity, yet what we get are increased sin taxes and more expensive speeding tickets, as though these things drive any of the issues or solve any problems, they do not.
They  are easy and no one is going to complain, but  there is no universal and well organized opposition to them. Hence in the legislature, a minority government will be forced to seek coalitions with the other parties to move forward on agendas, it's a great cure for pervasive arrogance.
I have not blogged about this election because there isn't much to blog about. What is occurring is in no way unique or unexpected. Team Ralph, Team Ed, Team Allison or  Team Jim, have all been faced with one primary goal: Power. And while this is a seductive beauty it is a fickle one and never a good long term partner as the focus will always shift from using power to keeping it.
My Prediction:
PC:    42-55
NDP: 12-21 all in Edmonton plus maybe Lethbridge east
Wild Rose: 15-33
Liberal: 2
Most likely:
43 PC
18 NDP
24 WRP
2   LIB
Now that would be an interesting legislature.
Good luck to every good candidate in this race, it's less about you dear friends than the banner you run under, so win or lose, do your best and hope your leader is able to resonate with the voting public.

See you on the 5th, if I can figure out where to vote.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Friends in more than one party

I have decided that I do not care about political parties. I have really begun to question the mindless wisdom associated with aligning oneself with a single ideology, it makes as much sense to me as the nonsense of things like "true believers", it makes none.

I make this bold proclamation because politics are ultimately about the acts and character of individuals, not the party machinery.  I've been to too many sevents where rabid sign wavers take their assigned spot on the stage behind the "leader" contrived events where they always subscribe to the theory of "the smaller the hall, the bigger the crowd looks".

They all do this, except the Liberals when Raj won the leadership. For some reason at that event they booked the butter done and would have been better off with a butter dish, so few people materialized.

The long term view and reason for strong parties is actually to discourage voter participation, I was elected because Ed Stelmach was premier, I was on Eds "team". We had talking points about policies and very little discussion about who the actual candidates were. The parties don't mind this, the old adage, "put a PC badge on it and you could elect a goat in this constituency" has been proven more than once.  The NDP are the worse with this, making their members promise not to join any other party, they marshal resources from the Tommy Douglas institute and every post secondary arts program in the west, their loyalists routinely sleep on the floors of like minded peoples homes and once the election is over they go back to class where they spend their time complaining about the cost of tuition and how washrooms aren't gender neutral.

It's a natural behavior frankly. Doesn't matter what party, they all do it.

So while I'm enjoying sunrise in Belize, a country in the midst of an election where politics matter because it's all local and where getting a new village water pump is often the hottest campaign issue, I  have decided to divorce myself from caring about party lines and will instead put all my efforts into helping candidates with integrity.

I will be campaigning for candidates, not parties. The parties  will have to accept that while in Edmonton Calder, Strathcona  or Castledowns, I'm supporting the PC candidate; in Westlock, Glenora  or Meadowlark I am not.   Other constituencies, like Decore or Manning I won't be supporting anybody.

I am campaigning for the person I happen to believe is the best candidate,  the party leaders are of no concern to me nor are the policies, promises and criticisms they are about to throw at each other, I will be very selective in my help. Some will need money, some shoe leather and while the party mandarins might not like my approach, I do not believe ANY party has the market cornered on candidates with integrity.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Alberta politics is so unpredictible it's rather boring, and it's going to stay that way

Jim Prentice risks being more interesting than a stuffed shirt by buying a 1950's car for his grandson. Welcome to the club Jim; I bought a 1958 Vauxhall Victor for my grandson for exactly the same reason.

Politicians are often self absorbed and boring, so it's nice to see a touch of humanity and frankly affluence by having our premier buy a 56 T-Bird. Of course the idea that he would spend his money on anything so frivolous  simply proves he is not responsible with money, except he paid cash and his T-Bird still cost less than your lifted F350 diesel with the leather seats you bought with no money down and will make payments on for eight years.

Like I said, the Premier paid cash.

In tough times, people who have cash generally get to buy things from people who do not have cash, this is called prudence and financial acumen. It's also called taking advantage of a good deal.

Now the left  will complain this is the 1% using their wealth to exploit the 99% but in reality it's just a fundamental understanding that you can't spend more than you earn.

So what does the T-Bird mean for the future of the province?

It means that fiscally prudent people  who live below their means might be in charge. The Premier might have more resources than most people, and the left might hate him for it, but all it really proves is, well, nothing other than  the guy has an eye for cars. Although to tell you the truth I am a bit concerned about the hood gap on the Bird, it's ever so slightly off, indicating a less than stellar restoration, I'm sure you noticed.
But to get where Alberta needs to go, driving old car analogies aside, the Premier is going to have to make some changes,  changes that involve replacing some old MLA's with new ones:

Peter Sandhu: Like him or not, he was embroiled in a scandal about his business dealings, he is a lightening rod and therefore gone. Scores a zero in fiscal prudence.

Fred Horne: Fred became the master of our of control single source contracts and  the irony of this is his fate is largely in the hands of the Yoda of the single source contract, PC party executive director Kelly Charlibois.

Raj Sherman:  Doctor Dreamy has gone into hiding of late, this will become permanent as he has single handedly demolished the Liberal party.  I know he's not a PC but he should still go.

Doug Horner: A great guy but he is completely off-side with the Prentice model of fiscal management, caucus cannot be a comfortable place for him. Oops I see I am a day late on this one, he retired before I could share my prediction.

Sohail Quadri: His undoing was telling my friend Nejolla that he had a special deal for voting in the leadership race that essentially let him do it for people. Very suspect behaviour.

David Xiao:  Since  being  disqualified as a CPC candidate,  being an MLA is embarrassing at best.  David, just go.  

Janice Sarich: She has already expressed her dissatisfaction with party politics and her lack of upward mobility. I think her dissatisfaction is about to be honored.

Gary Bickman:  Of all the people about to feel the wrath of the rebel voters in southern Alberta,  Gary will be the guy;  his election victory  over former MLA Broyce Jacobs was largely a battle of competing Mormon bishops,  this time it is more than likely to be a battle of more fundamental values, like honesty.

Danielle Smith:  Few people in politics have gone from hero to zero quicker than Ms. Smith.  Even if the PC party does not do a " Joe Anglin" on her, I think her constituents will seal the deal.
How come Thomas Lukaszuk isn't on this list? Well frankly, Thomas could run for the Rhinoceros party and people in Castledowns would vote for him. Indeed he has done a very good job of staying out of the limelight for negative things. 
There are a few others who might find their nomination "discouraged" by the Premiers office  such as Pearl Calahasen, Moe Amery, Neil Brown, Alana DeLong, all good MLA's,  however given that Premier has suggested "Term Limits" every MLA in the PC party should be looking at their personal "best before" date.
Tenure is no longer the great thing it once was.  Essentially the old timers need to go because each of them will receive 3 months severance for every year served prior to 2012. Alana DeLong, for example, was elected in 2001 she is eligible for 33 months severance or about $400,000.00.   The Premier is likely thinking, "better to take this hit once than drag it out".  Expect a lot of retirements.
The message was loud and clear to those who took the time to hear it:  this is a new team, a new Alberta, a new organization. All of which is just rhetoric except  anytime there is a new CEO, that CEO will want his own people.

Pretty boring stuff