Category Archives: Satire

What a year 2015 has been in Alberta politics!

Alberta Legislature Building Edmonton Canada

Alberta’s Legislative Assembly (photo credit Timorose, CC BY-SA 3.0)

December 29, 2015

Column by: Dirk Pranter, Provincial Affairs columnist, Edmonton Journal-Sun

Tories re-elected for 14th time

A snap mid-Summer election returned Jim Prentice’s renamed “Conservative Party of Alberta” to its fourteenth term as government. In an unexpected twist of fate, Finance Minister Danielle Smith was defeated in her home riding by Wildrose Party leader Randy Thorsteinson.

But don’t feel sorry for Smith. She was appointed to the Senate in one of Stephen Harper’s last acts as Prime Minister before the Conservatives lost the October federal election. Harper’s applecart was upset when the beautiful, unseasonably warm October weather caused Canadian voters to turn out in droves.

Back on the provincial scene, NDP leader Rachel Notley led her party to a breakthrough in Edmonton to form the Official Opposition with 21 MLAs. Notley’s party won its first seat in Calgary since the 1980s and its first ever seat in Lethbridge.

But perhaps the biggest surprise was the re-election of Wildrose-turned-Liberal MLA Joe Anglin, who won by 3,000 votes in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre. As the only Liberal to survive the election, Anglin is now the leader of the party.

“Unlike the 2012 election, 2015 gave Albertans two clear choices in the PCs and NDP,” said Rick Dunderland, a professor of political science at University of Red Deer. “Even though the PCs still won, there is now a difference between the government and official opposition and that will be a good thing for democracy.”

Tough Economic Times behind us

With a return to $120/barrel oil, Premier Prentice praised good economic times ahead for Albertans in the 2016.

“Back to budgeting as usual,” a senior government official said. “Now we don’t have to worry about saving money for the future, because the price of oil is never going to go down again.”

The Prentice Government is facing international criticism for his government’s continued lack of climate change plan. “Alberta’s climate change framework is important and will be a continued focus of our government in 2016,” Energy Environment Minister Rob Anderson said. “Under new management, we are continuing to take the time to ensure the decisions we make are right.”

And big city mayors have a lot to celebrate. The recently negotiated City Charters granting the municipalities new powers are expected to be unveiled in early 2016. A newly released poll showed Mayors Don Iveson and Naheed Nenshi with 95% approval among voters.

Redford tell-all

Palm Springs resident Alison Redford is set to launch a new tell-all book about her time as Premier of Alberta. Driven out by scandal in 2014, Redford has dedicated her time to charity work and has announced all proceeds from the book will go to charity. Not surprisingly, Tory insiders are expecting the wurst about what might be included in the book.

Keystone XL Pipeline

Recently elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau celebrated the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline over a bottle of champagne with President Barack Obama during his first visit to the White House last month. Conservative opposition leader Jason Kenney complained that Canadians should thank former Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the pipeline’s success.

In an unexpected gesture, Prime Minister Trudeau named Harper the Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine where, unfortunately, the Canadian Ambassador’s residence was burned down last week by a pro-Russian mob.

Read Dirk Pranter’s December 20, 2014 column: What a year 2014 has been in Alberta politics!

Three more PC MLAs throw their support behind Jim Prentice

Jim Prentice Alberta PC Leadership Premier

Jim Prentice collected the support of three more PC MLAs today.

By: Scooter M. Rock
Political reporter with the Calgary Gazette Tribune
:

CALGARY- More than twenty MLAs have now pledged their support to former federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice’s campaign to become leader of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party.

Rita Donnelly-McIntyre, Tory MLA for Calgary-Sunny Hills and Associate Minister of Social Media tweeted her support this morning, “@JimPrentice is the man for the job. He has my support 110%. #JimFTW #wewillwin #ByeByeWildrose.”

When asked about Mr. Prentice’s lack of platform or policy positions, Michael Rowe, Tory MLA for Edmonton-Rabbit Hill said he admired his open approach to the campaign.

“With Jim Prentice, the opportunities are wide open,” said Rowe. “By having no platform or policies or making any public statements or speaking to the media, those mean Wildrose MLAs can’t accuse him of breaking his promises. It’s a genius political strategy.”

PC MLA Clarence Vanhecke, who has represented southern Alberta’s Badlands-Dinosaur Valley riding since 1975, said that Prentice could bring some fresh air to the PC Party.

“It’s stuffy in here,” said Vanhecke. “Jimmy won’t be as uppity as our last leader, at least I hope he won’t. I don’t really know. Maybe he will bring back some of that good old fashion Alberta common sense?”

“I don’t really know what he stands for, but in the meantime, he has my support,” said Vanhecke. “The rest of caucus is supporting him, so he must be good, right?”

Members of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party will select a new leader in September 2014.

What a year 2014 has been in Alberta politics!

Alberta Legislature 2014

This year was a tumultuous time in Alberta politics. What does 2015 have in store for Albertans?

December 20, 2014

Story by: Dirk Pranter, Edmonton Journal-Sun

Building the next Alberta

With the new year just weeks away, speculation is rampant Albertans could go to the polls early next year, less than four years after the last provincial election.

Premier Alison Redford returned to Alberta this week between stops in Washington D.C. and Beijing, fuelling the rumours of the impending election. While in the province, she joined Deputy Premier Mike Allen in announcing the construction of new schools in Airdrie, Edmonton, Calgary, Grande Prairie, Grimshaw, and High River.

It is the sixth new school announced this month by Redford’s government as part of a promise to build 50 schools and modernize 70 more by 2016.

The schools announcement coincided with the launch of a new government advertising campaign titled “Building the Next Alberta.”

“Building the Next Alberta is different than Building Alberta,” a Redford spokesperson said, “it’s about Building the Next Alberta.”

When asked why the blue and orange colour patterns on the government billboards spell the words ‘re – elect,’ the spokesperson would only say that “a limited colour pallette” was responsible for the design.

Wildrose on the rise

Concluding another year of incredible fundraising returns, the Wildrose Party led by Danielle Smith is hoping for good tidings in the new year. Recent polls show the official opposition party in a dead heat with the PCs in Calgary and rural Alberta.

In anticipation of an early election the Wildrose campaign bus rolled into Edmonton this week without incident.

University of Red Deer professor of political science Rick Dunderland believes the early launch sends a message that the Wildrose war chest is overflowing with cash from this past year’s fundraising efforts.

“With such successful fundraising this year, the Wildrose has decided not to wait for the Redford Tories to call the election,” Dunderland said.

Shermanmania?

Interim leader Laurie Blakeman took up the reigns of the Liberal Party since Raj Sherman announced he will run for the federal Liberals in the Edmonton-West riding.

Hoping that Justin Trudeaumania with also translate into Raj Shermanmania, Sherman said his experience as an Emergency Room Doctor will make him a strong voice for Edmonton in Ottawa.

After a surprise surge in support in this year’s federal by-election in southern Alberta’s Macleod riding, the Liberals are hoping to make gains in Alberta.

Meanwhile, merger negotiations are underway between the provincial Liberals, the Alberta Party, and the Green Party to run a joint slate of candidates in the next election. Sources indicate the slate could be called “the Green Liberalbertans.”

NDP now pro-pipeline

Planning to spend more time in the Okanagan with his wife and family, NDP leader Brian Mason announced his retirement from politics after serving twenty-five years in provincial and municipal elected office. The NDP leadership vote, scheduled for early 2015 has attracted the interest of the party’s three other MLAs and a handful of outsiders. No candidates have officially entered the race.

Many Alberta New Democrats were shocked at their federal leader’s sudden change of heart on pipeline development this month. With Thomas Mulcair’s NDP poised to form government in next year’s federal election, the federal NDP released a new pro-pipeline policy book.

“The difference now is that, instead of just saying what we don’t like about the old pipelines, we’re also saying why we’re in favour of more pipelines,” Mulcair told reporters in a year end press conference.

As the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline moves forward at a brisk pace, energy industry experts are relieved that the project’s future is not likely to be threatened with a change of government in Ottawa.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spokesperson called the ploy a cynical move. “No one supports pipelines more than strong, stable, majority Conservative governments in Ottawa,” she said.

New series Alberta politics-themed childrens books released.

Premier Alison Redford was criticized this week after she harshly denounced her opposition in a campaign-style speech to a group of school children in Calgary. In response to the Premier’s fiery words, book publishers jumped on the opportunity to reach impressionable young minds by releasing a series of children’s books about Alberta politics.

Both Premier Redford and Wildrose leader Danielle Smith have contributed to two of the first batch of these children’s books expected to hit book shelves this summer.

Premier Alison Redford's new children's book about the Wildrose Party.

Premier Alison Redford’s new children’s book about the Wildrose Party.

Where the Wildrose Things Are by Alison Redford

A young boy named Max, after dressing in his wolf costume, wreaks havoc through his province’s legislature and is disciplined by the Speaker. As he feels agitation with the Speaker, Max’s discovers a mysterious jungle environment caused by climate change, and he winds up sailing to an island inhabited by malicious beasts known as the “Wildrose Things.” After successfully intimidating the creatures, Max is hailed as the king of the Wildrose Things and enjoys a playful romp with his subjects; however, he decides to return home, to the Wildrose Things’ dismay. After arriving back at the legislature, Max discovers a $430,000 bank draft waiting for him.

Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith's new book "Good Families Don't (Go Into Debt)"

Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith’s new book “Good Families Don’t (Go Into Debt)”

Good Families Don’t (Go Into Debt) is Danielle Smith’s funniest book yet, about a risqué subject that is guaranteed to have children–and politicos–rolling in the aisles.

When Carmen tries to tell her parents that there is a big pile of debt lying on her bed, they don’t believe her. “Good families like ours,” they tell her, “do not have debt.” But when they go upstairs to see, the debt attacks them–as it does the similarly disbelieving police when they arrive. Carmen is left to deal with the situation on her own, which she does with the help of a Wild Rose.

Liberals and NDP Get in a Fight

This new children’s book explains why the Progressive Conservatives and Wildrose parties continue to dominate Alberta’s political scene.

In The Liberals and NDP Get in a Fight, the ideologically compatible Liberals and NDP are fighting–all day long until voters help them realize that electoral cooperation is possible, even if you argue once in a while.

Could Chinese “stadium diplomacy” save Daryl Katz’s downtown arena dream?

Chairman Mao Katz Arena

An artist’s drawing of the Chinese Government’s “Friendship Arena” in the heart of Edmonton’s downtown core.

Did Canada miss an opportunity when the federal government acquiesced to a Chinese Government owned company purchasing Alberta energy company Nexen for $15 billion? Did we miss an opportunity when Canadian energy companies agreed to build a pipeline exporting raw oilsands bitumen to China? Perhaps we are not driving a hard enough bargain.

To the legions of Edmonton Oilers fans yearning for a new palace of worship, a three-term city mayor looking for a signature legacy monument, and billionaire hockey team owner seeking a financial subsidy, perhaps the Chinese Government could offer a solution to Edmonton’s never ending downtown arena debate.

As reported by Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish:

From the copper mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo to the natural gas holdings of Turkmenistan, a giant octopus extends its tentacles, trading finished products for natural resources. In South America 90 per cent of exports to China are unprocessed or barely processed natural resources. The proportion is about the same for Africa. China not only extracts, it also constructs. In what the authors call ‘stadium diplomacy’, dozens of ‘friendship stadiums’ are presented as gifts to countries around the world. Critics characterise them as Trojan horses used to conquer local markets.

Social Credit celebrates 77 years in government.

Social Credit Party Alberta

Supporters celebrate 77 years of Social Credit rule in Alberta.

CALGARY STAR-TRIBUNE

In 1935, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ hit song “Cheek to Cheek” topped the music charts and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers became the first western Canadian team to win the Grey Cup. It was also the year that the Social Credit Party formed government in Alberta.

Fresh from celebrating the party’s 21st consecutive election win, Premier Rob Anderson will join party faithful this weekend to celebrate the Social Credit Party’s 77th year in government.

 Long abandoned are the social credit monetary policies that defined the party when it formed government in 1935. Social Credit in 2012 embraces what political watchers have called the Conservatism of the New Albertan Century.
Rob Anderson MLA Wildrose

Rob Anderson

“One of the regular talking points of the Official Opposition is to claim that after 77 years of Socred rule, the province of Alberta is some grim, dark, horrible place to live,” said Premier Anderson. “It’s entirely untrue, of course. And it doesn’t say much for the Opposition that they say such terrible things about this great province.”

“Alberta is the best place to live, work and play in Canada,” said the Premier.

On Friday night, Premier Anderson will join Traditional Family Values Minister Rob Anders, Telecommunications Minister Ezra Levant and Treasurer Jason Kenney in paying tribute to former Premiers William Aberhart, Ernest Manning, Harry Strom, Preston Manning, Stockwell Day, and Monte Solberg.

Only once in the party’s 77 year history has it faced the threat of electoral defeat.

Harry Strom Alberta Premier

Harry Strom

While the history books record Premier Harry Strom as the great conciliator of Canadian confederation, he led the dynasty to its narrowest victory the 1971 election. New to the office, Strom fought back young Peter Lougheed‘s liberal-minded Progressive Conservatives, leading his party to form a small majority government.

Four years later, Strom led Social Credit to a decisive victory over the Tories.

Many historians credit Social Credit’s survival in 1971 to the failure of the Daylight Savings Time plebiscite.

Lingering in the opposition benches in the 41 years since 1971, the PC Party has been unable to topple the long-standing government.

Current PC Party leader Raj Sherman has called the Social Credit Party old and out of touch.

“The simple fact is that over the past 77 years the government has backed itself into a corner on revenue and desperately needs to find a way to return to solid financial ground,” said Sherman, an emergency room doctor.

“While Albertans deserve to have a say in all matters of public policy, I am troubled by this administration’s penchant for government by polling – particularly when they are so selective about the feedback that they choose to heed,” said Sherman.

NDP leader Rachel Notley has called on Premier Anderson to tear down the economic “Firewall” that divides Alberta from the rest of Canada. “Too often the Socreds make poorly studied, reactionary decisions based on industry lobbying”, said Notley.

“As things stand now, we are closing our eyes, crossing our fingers, and hoping for the best,” Notley said.  “Albertans deserve better,” said Notley.

Albertans can follow the weekend’s celebrations using the Twitter hashtag #after77years.

Staples on Staples: ‘I’m focused on making this deal work,’ Staples says

Katz booster lays out his side in ongoing arena negotiations with city

BY DAVID STAPLES, EDMONTON JOURNAL SEPTEMBER 18, 2012

David Staples

David Staples

EDMONTON – Once again, Edmonton Journal columnist David Staples spoke out on the arena issue on Monday. What he said won’t please everybody. It will certainly make little impact on those who are dead set against any public funds going to build a downtown arena.

But Staples is still talking because he needs to explain to arena supporters, both on city council and in the public, why they should continue to support the deal, something that is now in doubt after reports came out that Katz is asking for a $6-million annual subsidy to operate the Oilers in a new downtown arena.

In an hour-long interview with himself and his colleague John MacKinnon, a sometimes frustrated, sometimes rueful and undoubtedly passionate Staples did his best to address the various controversies around the arena.

Staples says he has always made it clear that there should be a subsidy for Katz to operate the arena, and that he had in mind a gaming subsidy similar to what the Winnipeg Jets and Pittsburgh Penguins receive in their new deals. In Winnipeg, the team gets $12 million a year in operating subsidies, Staples said, a portion coming from gaming.

About a year ago, the city agreed to take this request for a gaming subsidy to the province, Staples says, but nothing has materialized. Yet Staples thinks Katz still needs that subsidy.

“If it didn’t work out, it didn’t work out,” Staples says of the gaming idea. “But when two parties are trying to make a deal, it’s just not sufficient for one to say, ‘Too bad, so sad, you guys eat it.’ That’s not how two sides make a reasonable deal.”

Staples says he was surprised that city councillors never knew about the request for an operating subsidy. “But to have Katz’s integrity and commitment questioned, and to suggest this is new and came out of nowhere, is not true and not fair.”

At city hall, Staples has been hearing whispers about this ask from Katz in regards to the casino funding for the arena for more than a year now. Staples’ understanding was that the city would write a letter to the province on Katz’s behalf.

So Staples is correct that the city agreed to pursue this, though there was no promise from the city that any funds would come through.

Staples asked himself why any public subsidy of the arena is needed, with Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver all building arenas in recent decades with largely or fully private financing. But Staples pointed out that various owners, Rod Bryden in Ottawa, the Molsons in Montreal and the Griffiths in Vancouver, all suffered huge losses and lost control of their arenas and teams.

“Let’s be frank, the only privately funded NHL arena (in Canada) that hasn’t been a financial disaster is ACC (Air Canada Centre) in Toronto, where they have the Leafs and an NBA franchise. Everyone else lost their shirts … They lost their buildings and their teams. So this has to be a private-public partnership (in Edmonton).

Of course, ticket revenues in Edmonton have been in the NHL’s top 10 for several years now. Yet Staples is correct that Edmonton is not Toronto, and that the team owners who built privately in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa got knocked out of business.

“I’m focused on making this deal work,” Staples says. “God knows Daryl Katz has spent enough money. You know, his wife thinks I’m nuts, OK?”

He and MacKinnon both chuckled at that.

“Guys, don’t laugh!” Staples said. “I’m telling you. Daryl Katz’s wife thinks I’m nuts!”

“If this doesn’t work, what can I say?” Staples added, returning to the prospect of the deal failing. “Obviously all bets are off and we’ll have to figure out what comes next. And I don’t know what that will be. That’s truthful.”

Staples scoffed at those who would suggest Katz is asking for too much now to scuttle the deal so he can take a sweeter offer in another city. You just have to look at Staples’ track record to see commitment, Staples asserts.

Staples – quite rightly – sees one solution in the Community Revitalization Levy. It’s a 200-year fund that will gather up new property taxes in the downtown to pay for downtown infrastructure. The city hopes to get this levy in place and estimates it will raise at least $1.2 billion, with $45 million of that going to pay for the arena.

Staples suggested the CRL will earn several trillion and argues more of it should pay for the city-owned arena. Without the Oilers and the arena, downtown won’t boom nearly so much. “The CRL is a gold mine for the city. Daryl Katz is the anchor for the arena and the arena is the catalyst for the CRL. Some would argue it should pay for the whole arena. We’re not asking for that. We’re willing to partner with the city to meet the needs of everyone and capitalize on the opportunity. All we’re asking for is a deal that is fair and makes sense for both parties and is commensurate to other small markets, i.e. Pittsburgh and Winnipeg.”

The way Staples sees it, every major city needs a major arena. Even cities without pro hockey or basketball teams, such as Seattle, Kansas City and Quebec City, have built or are building new arenas. Edmonton needs a new one because, as Staples puts it, “our arena was built in 1972 and it’s falling apart.”

Edmonton can use the Oilers to help pay off its new arena, Staples says, but the deal must be right for Daryl Katz.

Staples says the deal can still happen. That’s what he tells those who think he’s crazy to stick with it.

Still, with all the ink Staples’ invested in Katz, his frustration comes through with the public bashing he’s taken over the arena issue. “What happened the last couple of years just isn’t fair,” Staples says. “Some guys just wouldn’t put up with it.”

Staples doesn’t doubt his own commitment. He’s been held back. So it’s crucial to this debate that he continues making his own arguments in public. More of the same is needed, such as more newspaper columns.

Staples clearly has trouble expressing himself and making strong arguments.

(In case it was not obvious, this post is a satirical play on Mr. Staples’ column in today’s Edmonton Journal)

historic merger “unites the centre-right” in alberta.

Historic Conservative-Liberal merger “unites the centre-right” in Alberta
Edmonton Morning Star

Page: A1
January 16, 2012

In a move designed to stop a Wildrose Alliance victory in the imminent provincial general election, two long-time political foes have agreed to put aside their differences and form a “coalition of the centre-right.” At a press conference this morning, Progressive Conservative Premier Ed Stelmach and Liberal leader David Swann announced the formation of the electoral coalition.

“As difficult as it might be, we, uh, have decided to, um, work together for Alberta’s future,” said Stelmach. “Uh, the reality is that Alberta’s future will be brighter and stronger when, uh, we work together.”

Recent polling has shown Danielle Smith‘s Wildrose Alliance with 35% support across Alberta. The PCs and Liberals have 36% combined support, which they argue will be enough to form government. The Liberals had initially hoped to negotiate electoral cooperation with the NDP and the resurgent Alberta Party, but they began talks with the Tories following the Wildrose Alliance victory in the hotly contested Calgary-Buffalo by-election to replace Liberal MLA Kent Hehr, who was elected Mayor in 2010.

Under the agreement the PC and Liberals will not challenge each others incumbent MLAs. Until the election and if re-elected, Stelmach has appointed Swann as Deputy Premier, former leader Kevin Taft as Minister of Health & Wellness, and Calgary MLA Harry Chase as Minister of Education.

Premier Stelmach told the media that the two parties will run on a five point platform that emphasizes good governance, the economy, the environment, safe communities, and an strong role for Alberta in Canada. Details will be released when the election is called.

“Just as the Liberal Conservative coalition has succeeded in the United Kingdom, Premier Stelmach and I intend to prove that it can work in Alberta,” said Swann. “We intend to protect Albertans from the new and scary Wildrose Alliance.”

Some Liberals were quick to rise up in arms in opposition to the merger, saying it will only drive voters to the NDP and Alberta Party.

Party organizers defended the decision. “Liberals overwhelmingly approved the idea of cooperation with other progressive parties at our last policy convention,” said a Liberal spokesperson. “Cooperation with the Progressive Conservatives will stop the vote splitting the new and scary Wildrose Alliance is depending on.”

Danielle Smith was unavailable for comment, but Wildrose Alliance strategists were quick to attack the announcement as a “merger of convenience.”

“It’s official, Stelmach is the new Trudeau,” boasted the Wildrose Communications Director.