Category Archives: Norman Kwong

col. donald ethell is alberta’s new lieutenant governor.

Lieutenant Governor Norman Kwong‘s replacement is expected to be announced this afternoon in Ottawa:

“CALGARY – Decorated Canadian peacekeeper Col. Donald Ethell will be named Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor this afternoon.

The veteran of 14 international peacekeeping missions, including Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel and the Balkans, was leader of Canadian peacekeeping operations from 1987 until 1990. He also served as deputy force commander of multinational forces during the 1990 Persian Gulf War and went on to his final assignment in Yugoslavia before retiring in July 1993.

Col. Ethell was also deployed by the United Nations to provide reconnaissance for the Arias Peace Plan covering five Central America countries. His operational plan for the UN Force in Central America was tabled in the House of Commons.

He’s now familiar to Canadians as a defence analyst on the CBC and other media. Col. Ethell will meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his Ottawa office where his appointment will be formally announced later today. 

Here is a July 2008 video interview of Col. Ethell used in the promotion of National Peacekeepers Day (h/t Joey Oberhoffner):

 EAVB_FNJEONVRIC

save the date: alberta politics in 2010.

New LG?: On January 20, the traditional 5-year term of Lieutenant Governor Norman Kwong will come to an end. With a lower profile than his predecessor, Lois Hole, Kwong brought a different personality to the office of Alberta’s viceroy. All of Alberta’s LGs appointed since Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne have been former attempted or elected politicians (including Helen Huntley, Gordon Towers, and Bud Olsen). If Kwong does not continue in the office I am at a loss to name who the next LG might be, but I can think of someone who might be an interesting pick.

Cabinet shuffle: Premier
Ed Stelmach is expected to shuffle the provincial cabinet early in the new year. I have laid out my thoughts here

Manning Centre: The conservative politics institute formed by former Reform Party leader Preston Manning has taken an interest in provincial politics and will be holding a ‘Conference on Alberta’s Future‘ on February 5 in Edmonton.

Speech from the Throne: This year’s Sessional Calendar has
not yet been posted on the Legislative Assembly website, but all indications point to a Speech from the Throne on the week of February 8. If a new LG is appointed in January, this will be their first high profile event.

Provincial Budget: Another tough economic times budget is expected to be tabled during the week of February 15. The Finance Minister at the time will wear this budget, whether it be Minister Iris Evans or a successor (odds are on Minister Doug Horner). Potential deep cuts to pubic health care have led some longtime PC supporters to question the longtime governing party.

Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission: The deadline for release of the interim report (including interim riding maps for the next election) is February 26 and the second round of public hearings are set to begin in April 2010. A final report will be released by July 2010.

Reboot Alberta 2.0: Following a highly successful first meeting in Red Deer in November 2009, a larger gathering of progressive Albertans is being planned for February 26 to 28 in Kananaskis. I reflected on the first Reboot Alberta meeting in early December 2009.

Alberta Liberal convention: Alberta’s Official Opposition Party will be holding their annual policy convention in Edmonton. There is not any information on their website, but I believe that it will be held in March 2010. Expect to hear more from the Liberals in the new year following David Swann‘s recent State of the Party Address.

Alberta Progressive Conservative convention: On April 30 and June 1, members of Alberta’s near 40-year governing party will gather in Edmonton. With low approval ratings and dropping party support in recent polls, expect Premier Stelmach to use the first four months of 2010 in an attempt to boost his political fortunes.

Wildrose Alliance convention: Since selecting
Danielle Smith as their leader, the Wildrose Alliance has conveniently been able to avoid answering questions about social issues under the guise of self-described libertarianism. One of Smith’s largest challenges at their 2010 policy convention will be to moderate some of the more destructive social conservative elements within her party’s membership.

Municipal Elections: Monday October 18. More to come…

air ed.

The Alberta’s taxpayer-funded Government’s fleet of airplanes flew empty 230 times in 2008.

Now, I have no problem with the Government owning and using airplanes, but it should be as cost and time efficient as possible, and this doesn’t seems to be the case:

“Government officials have said an Edmonton-Calgary flight in one of the fleet’s Beechcraft King-Air planes costs about $3,000. That works out to about $1,500 a seat, if there’s just two passengers.

A WestJet Edmonton-Calgary return-flight would cost an estimated $342.65. That’s over $1,100 more affordable (if the $1,500 is referring to a return flight, which I’m not sure that it is). The Edmonton Journal article reports that Lieutenant Governor Norman Kwong took 94 one-way flights last year, and Premier Ed Stelmach took 93 flights in 2008 and 111 in 2007 (often between Edmonton and Calgary).

It’s probably pretty cool to have access to your own fleet of airplanes, but if the PCs are serious about trimming costs (a position which seems to change by the week), they should start with their own perks.

On the topic of the taxpayer-funded Government airplanes, the RCMP are continuing their investigation (which included raids of Alberta Justice and Service Alberta offices) into criminal conduct in the falsification of a misleading government memo submitted into a 2005 public inquiry conducted by Alberta’s Information and Privacy Commissioner.

The public inquiry attempted to determine why Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation delayed release of the flight logs of the taxpayer-funded airplanes, and 2007, the Privacy Commissioner ruled (pdf) that the PC Government deliberately withheld the flight log information for political purposes until after the 2004 election.