Categories
Alberta Politics

doug horner, alberta’s minister of advanced education health & technology

And here I thought Raj Sherman (Edmonton-Meadowlark) was the Parliamentary Secretary to Health & Wellness Minister Ron Liepert (Calgary-West), but according to the mandate letter sent this week by Tory Premier Ed Stelmach to Advanced Education & Technology Minister Doug Horner (Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert)…

You will work with the Minister of Health and Wellness to:
• Increase access to quality health care and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of health care service delivery, and
• Ensure Alberta has the health care professionals we need to meet future demand, and

Lead the following initiatives:
• Increase the number of physician graduates from 227 to 295 by 2012;
• Increase the number of Registered Nurse graduates from 1,375 to 2,000 by 2012; and
• Increase the number of Licensed Practical Nurse graduates from 559 to 1000 by 2012.

Doug Horner’s mandate letter seems to have more to do with Liepert’s portfolio than his own. Maybe after his tenure in Education, Stelmach wants someone to keep a close eye on Minister Liepert…

Categories
Alberta Greens Alberta Politics

memo for the alberta greens.

With Greens across Canada buoyed from their strong showings in the Vancouver-Quadra, Toronto-Centre, and Willowdale by-elections (but not quite so strong in Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River), Elizabeth May is probably getting her share of high fives left, right, and center. But on the provincial scene, with the March 3 provincial election only weeks in the past, the Alberta Greens still have a lot of work to do to solidify their place in Alberta’s political scene.

Though the Alberta Greens weren’t able to win any seats in the Legislative Assembly, they did succeed in almost doubling their province-wide popular vote from just over 2% in 2004 to 4.58% in 2008. They also achieved two strong second place finishes in Lacombe-Ponoka and Drayton Valley-Calmar, and strong third place showing in Banff-Cochrane. If I were to give some advice to the Alberta Greens, it would be to focus their resources on grassroots organizing in the targeted rural Alberta constituencies.

With large parts of rural Alberta involved in some seriously intense land-use struggles, the Greens would do well to focus their resources in these areas. Two of the most high profile areas include Rimbey – where controversy over AltaLink’s north-south transmission corridor, the closure of debate on Bill 46, and the AEUB Spy Scandal erupted in 2007 – and the Tofield area – where the Round Hill-Dodds Agricultural Protective Association are fighting the development of a massive coalmine, which if constructed will include a gasification plant and power station built prime farmland south of Tofield (word on the street has it that the Ontario Teachers Pension Fund and the City of Edmonton-owned EPCOR have a substantial stake in this project).

This isn’t the first time that the Round Hill-Dodds Agricultural Protective Association has stood up to oppose this type of encroachment. As documented by Todd Babiuk, during the last energy boom in 1976, landowners in the Round Hill-Dodds community rallied to oppose the development of a $2.6 billion coal-fired power station on 360 square kilometers of agricultural land which would have displaced over 130 landowners.

“It turned into a folk tale, big power and big government pitted against real people. Local, provincial and national news outlets followed the story. The local Conservative MLA supported the landowners and then-premier Peter Lougheed, with a keen understanding of his party’s rural base, eventually stepped in.”
– Todd Babiuk

With the urban-based Alberta Liberals and New Democrats or the largely anti-regulatory Wild Rose Alliance unlikely to be able to capitalize on this type of rural discontent, I would think that the Greens are in the best position to benefit from spending the next four years of their energy harnessing the frustration with the current Progressive Conservative regime in these areas. After netting 22% for the Greens and having strong name recognition in Lacombe-Ponoka, Joe Anglin could potentially be the person best positioned to lead the battle in the rural areas. This isn’t a slight against current Calgary-based Green Leader George Read, who has led his party in doubling their support, I’m just more convinced that the Greens’ immediate growth potential is in rural areas like Lacombe-Ponoka and Drayton Valley-Calmar, rather than large urban centers like Calgary.

According to a recent media release, the Alberta Greens will hold a leadership review in October 2009.

A Green Shadow Cabinet

This week, the Alberta Greens released their shadow cabinet, which includes Joe Anglin as critic for the Department of Energy and Edwin Erickson as critic for Agriculture and Rural Development.

Categories
Alberta Politics

unite the left a fancy idea, but…

Like every election post-mortem period in Alberta, the talk of a unite-the-left move has reemerged. I was interested to read an op-ed piece in today’s Edmonton Journal in which Athabasca University Professor Alvin Finkle advocates in favour of a merger between the Alberta Liberals, New Democrats, and Greens. Now, I’m completely in favour of tearing down Alberta’s traditional party structures and attitudes, but I don’t believe it’s really as straight-forward as Finkle proposes. Here are six thoughts on a “united left” in Alberta…

1. Bad blood. There’s a ton of animosity and moral high-horsery going on between the Alberta Liberals and New Democrats. Party archetypes in both camps really need to put aside their biases and prejudices and take a serious and objective look at why their parties are not connecting with Albertans. With Kevin Taft and Brian Mason taking shots at each other during the campaign, both sides are guilty of creating the animosity, but both owe it to Albertans to look at the bigger picture and at least seriously look at the idea of a “united left.”

2. It’s aiming at the wrong target. I’m not sure that a merger between the parties is a silver bullet. With voter turnout at 41%, I’d be willing to suggest that all the parties are scrapping the bottom of their support-levels and need to look at the 59% of non-voting Albertans for growth.

3. Pass the vote. This argument assumes that support between parties will automatically carry over to a merged party. I’m not convinced that both parties cover the same spot on the political spectrum and this could leave a lot of Albertans without a party to vote for.

4. Greens on the left? I’m also not totally sure that the Alberta Greens could be considered part of “the left.” In fact, I’m not really sure where they are, but I’m sure that the 22% of Joe Anglin Green voters in Lacombe-Ponoka wouldn’t consider themselves as part of “the left.”

5. Different aims. The merger argument also assumes that both parties have the same target in mind? It’s clear that the Alberta Liberals are in it to form government, but I’m not sure that’s the same goal of the New Democrats. I’d be willing to bet that most New Democrats would feel a lot more comfortable staying in opposition than taking the reigns of power.

6. First-past-the-post. It seems that a bigger problem is the first-part-the-post electoral system that creates results that don’t result in a fair reflection of how Albertans voted. Change the system to STV or PR and I’m not sure we’d be having this conversation.

All of this said, a little pragmatism and give-and-take between the two parties probably wouldn’t hurt.

Is a merger a totally bad idea? No.

Is it feasible? That’s a completely different question.

Categories
Alberta Politics International Politics

australian cabinet making.

According to wikipedia, “cabinet making involves techniques such as creating appropriate joints, shelving systems, the use of finishing tools such as routers to create decorative edgings, and so on.” This process doesn’t sound too different than the actual process of political cabinet making which Tory Premier Ed Stelmach is currently undergoing.

Instead of speculating on which Tory MLAs will and won’t make the cabinet cut (though I do think it will be a challenging balance act and I may write a post about that), I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how cabinets are or have been selected in two other countries.

Down Under, the Australian Labour Party and New Zealand Labour Party have a tradition of allowing individual caucus member to elect cabinet ministers from their among their peers. Though the Prime Minister had retained the right to decide portfolios, members of factions within the caucus exercised considerable influence over who was elected to cabinet. In 2007, newly-elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd did away with the substance of the tradition by selecting the cabinet but allowing the caucus to ratify it (which it did unanimously).

A similar cabinet selection process was proposed by Federal Liberal MP Belinda Stronach back in 2006 and was supported by former North West Territories Premier Joe Handley.

Categories
2008 Alberta Provincial Election Alberta Politics YouTube

alberta election 2008: post-election blues on youtube.

Over the course of the election, Fringe North has recorded some interesting/entertaining commentary on the election. Here’s his reaction to Monday night’s election results. I get the feeling he was probably just as shellshocked as I was on election night…

Categories
2008 Alberta Provincial Election Alberta Politics Election Day

i voted. so should you, alberta.


Well, I’m back from voting for Tim Vant in Edmonton-Strathcona! Voting feels good. I wish I could vote every day. 🙂

I might try to do some liveblogging tonight, but I’m going to be busy getting out the vote for
Kevin Taft in Edmonton-Riverview and Sandeep Dhir in Edmonton-Manning so it might be later tonight until I make another appearance. Until then, check the CBC Alberta Votes 2008 website for election updates. Also, Alberta: Get Rich or Die Trying has a good run down of some of the blog coverage on today’s election.

After helping get the vote out in Edmonton-Riverview and Edmonton-Manning, I’m going to be heading down to the CBC election night gala at the Axis Cafe downtown before heading to the Alberta Liberal election night party at the Mayfield Inn in Northwest Edmonton. If you see me around, say hi.

I wanted to give a quick shout out to Leslie Penny in Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock. Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock is my family’s constituency and is where Penny is facing a incredibly uphill battle against long-time Tory Ken Kowalski‘s Tammany Hall machine as Kowalski is running for his ninth term as MLA. There wouldn’t be a better message that Albertans could send to this 37-year old Tory government than sending them and the Boss Hogg of Alberta politics packing.

If you don’t know where to vote, find out where to vote here.

If you haven’t already, take a look at your local candidates here.

Categories
2008 Alberta Provincial Election Alberta Politics Alberta Teachers' Association Joe Anglin Lacombe-Ponoka

a green lacombe-ponoka?

I had a great time this morning being part of a media panel with Sheila Pratt, Graham Thomson, and Ken Chapman at the Alberta Teachers’ Association Political Engagement conference. We had a great conversation with the conference delegates about this provincial election and the role of education in the media.

It was very interesting to talk with a number of teachers from across Alberta about the political situation in their constituencies and regions. I was really interested to talk with a teacher from Ponoka who was excited at the thought of Alberta Green candidate Joe Anglin‘s chances at defeating Tory Ray Prins in Lacombe-Ponoka. Anglin was one of the leaders of the landowner group that opposed AltaLink’s north-south transmission line (which included a dubious incident where the Tories used public money to hire a private investigator to spy on landowners and their lawyers) and Bill 46 last year. Lacombe-Ponoka is one of those special constituencies that I’m going to be watching on the night of March 3…

(I also met another blogger while I was there…)

Categories
2008 Alberta Provincial Election Alberta Politics Calgary-Currie

alberta election 2008: calgary-currie.

Created in 1971, Calgary-Currie was a reliably Progressive Conservative stronghold until 2004.

From 1993 to 2001, Tory Jocelyn Burgener easily held this Currie for her party. In 2001, Burgener was replaced by PGIB-backed Calgary Alderman Jon Lord. Lord was easily elected as a Tory in that election. In 2004, Currie was home to a high profile race when the Alberta Liberals attracted high-profile candidate Dave Taylor, a popular QR77 Radio host in Calgary. With a strong campaign and a slight redistribution of Currie’s boundaries (taking in Liberal-friendly areas of Calgary-Buffalo), Taylor defeated Lord by over 500-votes. In 2008, Currie is seen as one of the hot races in Calgary as both the Alberta Liberals and Tories are fighting hard for this constituency…

Before he was first elected in 2004, Taylor was a well-known radio host on QR77, and had also been involved in the Feed the Hungry Dinner at St. Mary’s Cathedral and with the Christmas Hamper Program at McDougall United Church. Since being elected in 2004, Taylor has served Alberta Liberals Deputy Leader and Shadow Minister of Advanced Education and Housing. I worked closely with Taylor while I was Chair of the Council of Alberta University Students last year in fighting against former-Advanced Education Minister Denis Herard’s move to de-legislate Alberta’s tuition policy (which now allows the PCs to change Alberta’s tuition policy in a closed-door cabinet meeting, rather than allowing public debate in the Legislature). Though I’ve had people tell me that Taylor’s aggressive style rubs them in wrong way, the same people have also said that they think he’s a hard working MLA (apparently, Rod Love does as well…).

PC candidate Arthur Kent was a correspondent for NBC when he made a name for himself as the “Scud Stud” during the first Persian Gulf War in 1990-91. Kent graduated from Carleton University and worked as an independent journalist until joining NBC. He left NBC in 1992 and worked for a number of international media outlets since then. Though he benefited from initial excitement when he was first nominated as Currie’s Tory candidate, Kent’s shine quickly wore off following his faux-public dispute with Ed Stelmach (Kent is being a little more strategic in his “anti-Ed” strategy than one former Tory candidate). Kent wasn’t helped when the National Post’s Don Martin took aim at the “Scud Dud” early in the campaign. It doesn’t look like the bad publicity is hampering Kent, as he continues his campaign against Taylor (to his credit, Kent is also hosting a video blog on his website).

NDP candidate Marc Power is a University of Calgary Political Science graduate, social activist, and debater. As much as it pains me to give advice to an ND candidate, here’s my bit of advice for Power: you look like a good candidate and would probably do well in a constituency where the NDs stand a chance (ie: probably not in Calgary). Unfortunately, in this race, Power is easily overshadowed by the two high profile Alberta Liberal and PC candidates.

Alberta Alliance candidate Ken Mazeroll is a sheet metal worker who, according to his online biography, is blue-collared and proud of it. The Greens candidate is Graham MacKenzie.

Between 2004 and 2006, Currie’s population grew by 24.64%, bringing over 6,000 new registered voters to this constituency. Currie’s diversity makes this an interesting constituency: 24.1% of Currian families have income levels about $100,000 and 29.3% have income levels lower than $40,000. Also interesting is that 45% of Currie voters are between the age of 25 to 44.

Controversy!
Robin Darsi was appointed Calgary-Currie’s returning officer after he lost the bid for the Tory nomination against Kent.

Calgary-Currie 2008 Election candidates

Alberta Liberal – Dave Taylor
Green – Graham MacKenzie
ND – Marc Power
PC – Arthur Kent
Wildrose Alliance – Ken Mazeroll

Calgary-Currie Past-Election Results

2004
Dave Taylor, Lib – 5,046
x Jon Lord, PC – 4,412
Kim Warnke, Grn – 813
Robert Scobel, NDP – 468
Ken Mazeroll, AA – 348
Voter Turnout: 45.3%

2001
Jon Lord, PC – 6,922
Pat Murray, Lib – 2,667
Garth Mundle, NDP – 1,114
J. Bruce Miller, Ind – 434
Voter Turnout: 48.3%

1997
x Jocelyn Burgener, PC – 5,952
Mairi Matheson, Lib – 3,636
Liz Blackwood, NDP – 712
Jeff Townsend, SC – 610
Richard Shelford, NL – 109
Voter Turnout: 49.1%

Categories
2008 Alberta Provincial Election Alberta Politics

rumble in the jungle!

A little bit of shameless promotion this evening…

– Tomorrow morning Edmontonians will bear witness to an epic political battle rivaling Rumble in the Jungle as Ken Chapman and I will face off at 7:40 a.m. on CityTV Edmonton… so, tune in.

– I wrote a column in this week’s SEE Magazine… you check it out. Also, make sure to check out the main story in this week’s SEE in which Public Interest Alberta‘s Bill Moore-Kilgannon talks about the secrecy of the current Tory government.

– I’m glad to see that Calgary-Fish Creek Alberta Liberal candidate Laura Shutiak is getting some mainstream media attention for starting her campaign blog. Keep up the good work, Laura!

Categories
2008 Alberta Provincial Election Alberta Politics

all in the family.

I’m not a big fan of career politicians and I’m even less a fan of political dynasties… our neighbours to the south may have the Kennedy, Clinton, and Bush dynasties (among others), but a closer look at the candidates in the 2008 Alberta election will reveal close family ties closer to home.

Here are nine candidates running in the 2008 Alberta Election stuck with the unfortunate political gene…

Athabasca-Redwater Tory candidate Jeff Johnson is the son of retiring Tory MLA LeRoy Johnson (1997-2008).

Athabasca-Redwater Alberta Liberal candidate Bill Bonko is the son of, well Edmonton-Decore Alberta Liberal MLA Bill Bonko.

Calgary-Egmont Wildrose Alliance candidate Barry Chase is the father of Calgary-Fort Wildrose Alliance candidate Travis Chase (no relation to Calgary-Varsity Alberta Liberal MLA Harry Chase).

Calgary-Foothills Tory MLA Len Webber’s father, Neil Webber, was the Tory MLA for Calgary-Bow from 1975 to 1989.

Calgary-Shaw Tory MLA Cindy Ady’s father-in-law, Jack Ady, was the Tory MLA for Cardston-Chief Mountain from 1993-1997.

Cardston-Taber-Warner Wildrose Alliance MLA & leader Paul Hinman‘s grandfather was Edgar Hinman, Alberta Social Credit MLA and Treasurer from 1955-1964.

Edmonton-Strathcona NDP candidate Rachel Notley‘s father was Grant Notley, NDP leader and MLA for Fairview-Spirit River (1971-1982)

Peace River Tory MLA Frank Oberle‘s father, Frank Oberle, was the MP for Prince George-Peace River from 1973 to 1993.

Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert Tory MLA Doug Horner’s grandfather Ralph Horner, was a Senator for Saskatchewan, his father, Dr. Hugh Horner was a federal Member of Parliament under John Diefenbaker and then Alberta’s agriculture minister and deputy premier in the 1970s, and his uncles Jack Horner, Albert Horner and Norval Horner were federal MPs.

Categories
2008 Alberta Provincial Election Alberta Politics

taking aim at the ‘scud stud.’

Last week, Calgary-Currie PC candidate Arthur Kent had some kind words for Tory leader Ed Stelmach. Today, National Post writer Don Martin aimed some less than kind words at the ‘stud scud.’

‘Scud stud’ a dud in Alberta election

Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2008

OTTAWA -He was the Satellite Dish and the Desert Fox before they christened him with the nickname that stuck: The Scud Stud.

But Alberta Conservatives have bestowed problem candidate Arthur Kent with a less flattering designation as he noisily blusters his way through their ailing election campaign: The Dud Scud.

Kent is taking on Alberta Liberal MLA Dave Taylor.

Also, Calgary-Fish Creek Alberta Liberal candidate Laura Shutiak has started a campaign blog.

Categories
2008 Alberta Provincial Election Alberta Politics Calgary-Montrose

calgary-montrose conflict-of-interest?

The curse on the Stelmach Tories house in Calgary-Montrose continues as it has been uncovered that the local Returning Officer has PC Party ties

The Conservative government appointed Lynn Warkentin in December to be the returning officer in the northeast riding.

Her husband, Frank, is the chair of the Progressive Conservative party’s nomination committee in Calgary-Montrose — a connection, the two opposition leaders say, that warrants the removal of Warkentin from her post.

“There’s very close ties between the local returning officer and the PC association [in Calgary-Montrose],” said Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft.

“It’s wrong. There should not be ties between returning officers and any political party.”

Last year, Alberta’s Chief Returning Officer Lorne Gibson made a number of recommendations to Tory Justice Minister Ron Stevens on how to revamp Alberta’s election process. One of these recommendations, which obviously weren’t adopted, included:

2. Prohibition against political activity

Returning officers are currently prohibited from engaging in political activity in support of a political party or candidate, and from making a contribution under the Elections Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act. There is no similar restriction on parrisan activity at the constituency association level.

All election officers, and particularly Returning Officers, must be completely non-partisan in fact and perception. The prohibition on political activity should include a restriction on constituency association level participation.

Since the Election Clerk may be called upon to replace the Returning Officer in the case of absence or inability to act, and because of the high profile of that position, the same prohibitions should apply.

Recommendations:
a. Expand the list of prohibited activities for Returning Officer to include participation at the constituency association level.
b. Extend the prohibition against political activity to include Election Clerks.

Categories
2008 Alberta Provincial Election Alberta NDP Alberta Politics

alberta ndp. on your side?

Okay, let’s take a close look at the Alberta NDP this morning…

September 21, 2007: NDP MLA Ray Martin writes to Alberta unions to shake them down for a minimum of $5,000 to fund another NDP election campaign.

Fall 2007: NDP leader Brian Mason writes in his Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood MLA newsletter that he supports eliminating corporate and union donations to political parties.

Furthermore, NDP leader Brian Mason said in Calgary yesterday that “Liberals and Conservatives accepted $1.5 million from big oil and other large corporations in 2006, and almost $1.6 million in 2005.” The statement is not just misleading, but wrong.

According to Elections Alberta breakdowns, the Alberta Liberals received roughly $273,000 from all corporate sources in 2005, and $336,000 in 2006. When you actually look at the numbers, lumping the Alberta Liberals together with the Progressive Conservative fundraising totals is disingenuous.

Mason also stated the NDP received $18,000 from unions in 2006. While this is correct, the NDP received over $100,000 in donations from union sources in 2004, an election year.

One wonders how much the NDP raised in 2007, when NDP MLA Ray Martin demanded his $5,000 shakedown…

Categories
2008 Alberta Provincial Election Alberta Politics Alberta Social Credit

on the second day he created more doctors.

Here’s a quick look at how campaign 2008 is shaping out in Alberta…

1. Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft released his party’s plans for Alberta’s two largest cities in an Edmonton Regional plan and Calgary Regional plan. Watch for the Alberta Liberals to focus on coalition building in Alberta’s two largest municipalities and their regions. As the Alberta Liberals probably aren’t going to gain waves of support from deep rural Tory strongholds, building an urban coalition is a smart strategy for a party looking to break Ed Stelmach‘s Tories’ 37-year-old grip on Alberta’s Legislature.

2. The Stelmach Tories have released their first TV ad with the first being on the topic of health care. Yesterday, Ed Stelmach promised to train hundreds of new doctors, nurses and health-care workers over the next four years (just in time to get rid of health care premiums).

The medical community was quick to throw in their two cents on Stelmach’s health care announcement:

…according to Dr. Trevor Theman, registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, that is likely not possible: although the need is there, it would require a near-doubling of current training spending from the province and involve recruiting dozens of more people to train them – with staff to train physicians already an issue for the existing 250 spots.

“Edmonton and Calgary are already maxed out in their ability to train, and even if there were more money, it’s an issue of human resources,” said Theman. “You need trainers available and you need people who have clinical experience to handle that training.”

In fact, the only way to achieve the province’s doctor target, said Theman, would be by relying chiefly on recruitment of overseas physicians, which is already the province’s principal new source of doctors.

3. Word on the street has it that the Stelmach Tories being sticks in the mud and are holding out in negotiations for this election’s Leaders’ Debate. The debates would have Stelmach face Kevin Taft, Wildrose Alliance leader Paul Hinman, and ND leader Brian Mason in a live province-wide radio and televised debate. Does this mean that the Tories concerned about Stelmach’s public debating skills?

4. The Social Credit Party has laid out their ambitious plan for Alberta:

Social Credit will be fielding 12 candidates and asking Albertans in the coming weeks to consider the only alternative to the Liberals or ruling Conservatives – Social Credit, a party with a rich history of governing the province and a party eager to rekindle a flame under the people of Alberta.

5. As the Alberta Greens, Soreds, and Wildrose Alliance continue to nominate candidates across the province, the Stelmach Tories have appointed two candidates in difficult constituencies: Manmeet Bhullar in Calgary-Montrose and T.J. Keil in Edmonton-Strathcona. Bhullar was appointed after the Tories rejected the Calgary-Montrose PC Association choice-candidate Robin Leech.

6. The list of 2008 Alberta Election candidates continues to grow. If I’ve missed any candidates or their websites, send me an email at daveberta.ca@gmail.com.

Categories
2008 Alberta Provincial Election Alberta Politics

alberta votes 2008! throne speech recap.

Welcome to Alberta’s 2008 provincial election campaign!

Before I get started on some serious election coverage, here’s a quick recap of yesterday’s Speech from the Throne. Though I don’t think Tory leader Ed Stelmach‘s campaign launch throne speech was as fabulous as one of my fellow bloggers has gushed, I don’t think it was really anything awful either. It felt like a typical Ed Stelmach-sytle Throne Speech – inoffensive, filled with re-announcements, and promises to continue projects that are already underway. Because of this, I’ll focus on some key points that I piqued my interest…

– Though there was nearly no mention of Alberta’s municipalities in the speech, there was a lot of talk of catching up and building modern infrastructure. I’m assuming this means that Ed Stelmach had nothing to do with Alberta falling behind on infrastructure development while he was Minister of Infrastructure & Transportation from 1999 to 2004.

– As had been previously semi-announced, Health Care Premiums are on the chopping block within four years. I’m not sure why it’s going to take four years (I assume a 37-year-old government can only move so fast), but this is generally a positive step that Alberta’s opposition parties and public interest groups been advocating for over the past decade.

Ed Stelmach has made a commitment to remain vigilant in his fight the Pine Beetle. I’m not sure how Stelmach is planning to fight the beetles, but I can’t help but imagine Ed Stelmach and Ray Danyluk running around the forest dressed up like Batman and Robin and squishing thousands of helpless little Pine Beetles with the bottoms of their boots. Go get ’em, Ed!

The Edmonton Journal’s Graham Thomsons picked up a good point raised by Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft as to why Ed Stelmach was using the taxpayer provided Legislature Media Conference room for what was essentially a campaign launch announcement (equipped with PC Campaign Staff). I was standing in the back of the room during the media conference and it was interesting to see Stelmach is slowly beginning to improve his public speaking skills compared to when he became Premier a year ago.

Ed Stelmach may be slowly improving his public speaking skills, but he’ll need to do better than he did yesterday if he’s serious about communicating with Albertans in a meaningful way over the next 28 days.