Categories
Alberta Politics Daveberta Podcast

Episode 51: A new Alberta. Responding to COVID-19 and Oil Crash with Chris Henderson.

Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, stay at home.

The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the plummeting price of oil has sent shockwaves through Alberta politics over the past two weeks.

Chris Henderson, Chief Strategist and Partner at Y Station Communications and Research, joins Dave Cournoyer and Adam Rozenhart on the Daveberta Podcast to try to make sense of the rapidly changing political landscape in Alberta and Canada.

Chris reflects on how political leaders Jason Kenney, Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump are responding to the crisis and shares some of the results from Y Station’s recent polling of Albertans on COVID-19 issues.

The Daveberta Podcast is a member of the Alberta Podcast Network, powered by ATB. The Alberta Podcast Network includes more than 30 great made-in-Alberta podcasts.

You can listen and subscribe to the Daveberta Podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotifyStitcher, or wherever you find podcasts online. We love feedback from our listeners, so let us know what you think of this episode and leave a review where you download.

Find us on TwitterInstagram, Facebook, or you can email us at podcast@daveberta.ca. Thanks for listening.

Accolades: The Daveberta Podcast is the winner in the Outstanding News & Current Affairs Series category in the 2020 Canadian Podcast Awards. Thanks to everyone who voted for and continues to listen to our made-in-Alberta politics podcast.

Recommending reading:

Categories
Alberta Politics

15 years ago I started a blog about Alberta politics

It is remarkable how quickly time flies by. Fifteen years ago I was probably sitting on my couch in the living room of my heavily-subsidized and very run-down University of Alberta-owned residence in north Garneau when I first clicked the publish button on my brand new blogspot.com website. That was probably how Daveberta was born.

Dave Cournoyer in 2011 (photo by Earl J. Woods)
Dave Cournoyer at a political event in 2011 (photo by Earl J. Woods)

I was in the fourth year studying an undergraduate degree in Political Science that would be drawn out for a not insignificant number of more years as I threw myself into student union politics and activism, and then provincial politics.

I had no idea that 15 years later this website would still exist, and that it would also spin off into a podcast and lead to hundreds of media interviews, conference panels and speaking engagements, because at the time blogging was a novelty and something that a lot of people were just trying out.

Maybe I am just one of the few who had staying power?

The name Daveberta was inspired, somewhat mockingly, in response to Paulberta t-shirts donned by Paul Martin delegates attending the 2003 Liberal Party of Canada leadership convention in Toronto (which I was among at the time). I figured Daveberta both sounded better and was more authentic (I am a third-generation Albertan and Martin was not).

Presenting Jason Kenney with a Best of Alberta Politics Award in 2018.
Presenting Jason Kenney with a Best of Alberta Politics Award in 2018.

A lot has changed in politics over the past fifteen years, for myself and Alberta.

Fifteen years ago I was heavily involved in student politics at the U of A and in Liberal Party politics, mostly at the provincial level. This website certainly had a partisan inclination when it was launched and along with CalgaryGrit.ca and AlbertaDiary.ca (now AlbertaPolitics.ca) became one of the go-to blogs focusing on Alberta politics.

Back then I was a proud a partisan and largely depended on blog aggregators, links from other blogs, and keyword searches to generate website traffic.

Today, I enthusiastically hold no party membership (my political inclinations have also significantly shifted) and depend much more on Facebook and Twitter to reach my readers.

Dave Cournoyer Justin Trudeau
Dave Cournoyer and Justin Trudeau in 2014.

Alberta politics used to be boring, or so I am told, but the past fifteen years have been anything but boring. The political landscape has witnessed a number of political upheavals, and might be a little confusing to someone from 2005. Here’s a quick look at a few of the things that have changed in Alberta politics since Daveberta.ca was launched fifteen years ago:

Alberta Legislature

Then: The Progressive Conservative Party formed a majority government with 61 MLAs, the Liberal Party formed the Official Opposition with 17 MLAs, the New Democratic Party had 4 MLAs, and the Alberta Alliance had 1 MLA. Ken Kowalski was the Speaker and serving his 26th year as an MLA.

Now: The United Conservative Party forms a majority government with 63 MLAs, and the NDP forms Official Opposition with 24 MLAs. Nathan Cooper is the Speaker.

"...Dave Cournoyer isn't some obscure fat frat boy with a sticky-up haircut." - Neil Waugh, Edmonton Sun (January 2008)
“…Dave Cournoyer isn’t some obscure fat frat boy with a sticky-up haircut.” – Neil Waugh, Edmonton Sun (January 2008)

Premier of Alberta

Then: Ralph Klein was in what would soon be seen as the dying days of his premiership. Klein led the PC Party to win a reduced majority government in the November 2004 election, which was dubbed the “Kleinfeld” campaign because of the lack of central narrative of the PC Party campaign. Klein would be unceremoniously dumped by PC Party members at a leadership review in 2006, and he would resign from office months later and fade into obscurity after hosting a short-lived TV gameshow in Calgary.

Now: Former Member of Parliament Jason Kenney leads a UCP majority government, after successfully staging the merger of the membership of the PC Party and Wildrose Party, and leading the party to victory in the 2019 election. Like Klein, Kenney is hell bent on dismantling the high-quality public services that Albertans depend on each day. But unlike Klein, Kenney appears to committed to a much more ideologically-driven free market agenda.

Leader of the Official Opposition

Then: Kevin Taft had just led the Liberal Party from what appeared to be the brink of oblivion to more than triple the party’s number of MLAs. The Liberals regained most of the seats it lost in the disastrous 2001 election and made a major breakthrough in Calgary, electing three MLAs in Alberta’s largest city.

Now: Rachel Notley became leader of the official opposition after four years as Premier of Alberta. She becomes the first official opposition leader in 48 years to have previously served as premier. Notley announced in December 2019 that she plans to lead the NDP into the next election, expected to be held in 2023.

The Four Daves of Alberta politics. blogger David Climenhaga, NDP MLA David Eggen, Liberal MLA David Swann, and blogger Dave Cournoyer. (2013)
The Four Daves of Alberta politics. blogger David Climenhaga, NDP MLA David Eggen, Liberal MLA David Swann, and blogger Dave Cournoyer. (2013)

Alberta separatism

Then: The week that I launched Daveberta.ca, former Western Canada Concept leader Doug Christie was traveling through Alberta trying to start another western separatist party. The Western Block Party was unable to elect any MPs and was dissolved in 2014.

Now: Fringe politicians rally around the separatist flavour of the week, now known as Wexit, and a former respected newspaper owner and a defeated Toronto politician spoke in favour of separatism at a conservative conference in Calgary. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…

It continues to be a wild ride, and a pleasure to share my thoughts on Alberta politics on this website and on the Daveberta Podcast.

Dave Cournoyer on CTV Alberta Primetime with Duane Bratt and Don Braid. (2013)
Dave Cournoyer on CTV Alberta Primetime with Duane Bratt and Don Braid. (2013)

There are a few people who I would like to recognize and thank for inspiring and supporting me along the way (this is by no means a comprehensive list and there are many people I am thankful for who helped me a long the way):

  • My family, and my beautiful wife Kyla in particular, have been incredibly understanding and tolerant of this hobby and my indulgences into Alberta politics.
  • My friend Chris Henderson, whose advice and friendship helped me navigate a number of politically challenging times.
  • My former boss at the Liberal Party, Kieran Leblanc, who is a dear-friend and someone who I definitely need to make time to meet for lunch with more often.
  • Adam Rozenhart and Ryan Hastman for helping start the Daveberta Podcast more than two years ago. The podcast continues to be a highlight for me, and a medium that I have enjoying focusing on over the past few years. (The Daveberta Podcast has been nominated in the Outstanding News & Current Affairs Series category in this year’s The Canadian Podcast Awards).

And a sincere thank you to everyone who keeps on reading this website and listening to the podcast. I may not still be writing on this website fifteen years from now, but regardless of how much longer it lasts, it has been a great experience.

Categories
Alberta Politics

Greta Thunberg rallies massive crowd in the heart of Canada’s Oil Country

In the heart of Canada’s oil country, the biggest crowd I have ever seen in this province rallied down the streets of downtown Edmonton to the steps of the Alberta Legislature for today’s Climate Strike march.

The crowd of more than 10,000 converged on the Legislature grounds to hear from a long list of speakers, but they were mostly all there to hear from Greta Thunberg. The 16-year old international environmental activist announced three days ago that she would be in Edmonton and the massive turnout today is a testament to her star power, the remarkable on the ground organization of climate justice and indigenous groups in Alberta, and the growing importance of climate change in Alberta – and in Monday’s federal election.

And we are not doing this because we want to. We aren’t doing it because it’s fun. We’re aren’t doing it because we have a special interest in the climate or because we want to become politicians when we grow up,” Thunberg told the massive crowd.

We are doing this because our future is at stake.”

Thunberg avoided talking about the federal election or hot button local issues like the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project and oilsands emissions, and instead focused on the need to recognize the science and the political action that leaders need to take to address climate change.

Organizers of the Climate Strike in Edmonton included Climate Justice Edmonton, Edmonton Youth for Climate, Extinction Rebellion, and Beaver Hills Warriors. Along with Thunberg, speakers at the rally included Saddle Lake Cree Nation Headwoman, Pamela Quinn, student and organizer with Edmonton Youth for Climate Luke Nelson, Dene Tha First Nation youth activists Lynn Morin and Portia Morin, Climate Justice Edmonton organizer Batul Gulamhusein, student Edmonton Youth for Climate organizer Madison Prairie.

The 30 or so trucks that formed the pro-oil convoy that travelled from Red Deer and Nisku to downtown Edmonton made some noise, as did small groups of red hatted counter-protesters, but they were eclipsed by the sheer size of the crowd of Albertans participating in the Climate Strike.

There has been a lot of commentary about the fragility of pro-oil protesters who felt the need to counter-protest a 16-year old. But as political observer Chris Henderson posted on Twitter yesterday, they should feel threatened. Everywhere Greta Thunberg goes, she resonates orders of magnitude higher, just like she did today in Edmonton.

Climate Strike in Edmonton, Alberta with Greta Thunberg

Climate Strike in Edmonton, Alberta with Greta ThunbergClimate Strike in Edmonton, Alberta with Greta ThunbergClimate Strike in Edmonton, Alberta with Greta ThunbergClimate Strike in Edmonton, Alberta with Greta Thunberg Climate Strike in Edmonton, Alberta with Greta Thunberg Climate Strike in Edmonton, Alberta with Greta Thunberg Climate Strike in Edmonton, Alberta with Greta Thunberg Climate Strike in Edmonton, Alberta with Greta Thunberg

Categories
Daveberta Podcast

Episode 37: Return of the Leg and in the Federal Election Red Zone

Along with guest co-hosts Lianne Bell and Chris Henderson, Dave discusses what to expect from the United Conservative Party and New Democratic Party when the Legislature reconvenes on May 21 and how the cabinet and opposition critics will match-up this session. We also talk about how federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative leader Andrew Scheer could fare in the October 2019 federal election.

And we answer some great questions from our listeners, ranging from what implications will the immanent federal election campaign have for Alberta politics to how to encourage your MLA to focus on issues that were not brought up during the election campaign?

The Daveberta Podcast is a member of the Alberta Podcast Network powered by ATB Financial. The APN is asking podcast listeners to participate in their annual listener survey, so please do so if you are so inclined.

You can listen and subscribe to the Daveberta Podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotifyStitcher, or wherever you find podcasts online. We always love to feedback from our listeners, so let us know what you think of this episode and leave a review where you download.

You can also comment on the blogFacebook or Twitter or send us an email at podcast@daveberta.ca.

Thanks again to our talented producer, Adam Rozenhart, for making us sound so great.

Thanks for listening!

Photo: Lianne Bell and Chris Henderson as we recorded this episode of the Daveberta Podcast. 

Categories
Alberta Politics Daveberta Podcast

Episode 4: The Alberta Party (again), leaked UCP policy, and predictions for 2018

Daveberta Podcast Alberta PoliticsThe Alberta Party leadership race (it’s finally a race!), the United Conservative Party’s leaked policy document, predictions for 2018, and hot gossip from the Alberta Legislature are just some of the topics covered in the latest episode of The Daveberta Podcast with Dave Cournoyer and Ryan Hastman (recorded in the Harry Strom Memorial Studios on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018).

Dave also talks about the 10 year anniversary of the edstelmach.ca incident.

Listen and subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play, and wherever you find podcasts online.

We’d love to hear what you think of the podcast, so feel free to leave a review where you download it and share the podcast with a friend. Also feel free to leave a comment on this blog, Facebook or Twitter or send us an email at podcast@daveberta.ca.

We’d also like to send a huge thanks to our producer, Adam Rozenhart, for his help in making this podcast a reality.

Thanks!

Categories
Alberta Politics

Trump Never Had A Chance

Guest Post by Chris Henderson

Seemingly every day, someone tells me that they’re worried Donald Trump will win the election. Aside from the natural anxiety that comes with a  potentially catastrophic (yet still remote) possibility, I really don’t believe Trump winning is even remotely realistic. Here’s why:

1. Trump has no ground game.

Every modern election is won on ground game. Candidates can’t rely on speeches and cable news appearances. They need an army of people and tools to reach out to millions of voters throughout the election, collect data and guide campaign decisions. This matters. It defines your strategy and it helps you convert voters on the margins – the ones that you need to help you win swing states.

Building this infrastructure is essentially the modern-day purpose of the US primary nomination system. Parties believe that the successful nominee will emerge with (and because of) a sophisticated and mature ground game infrastructure to head into the general election. Trump didn’t do this. He coasted on a unique mix of populism and the anger of 13 million voters to help him rise to the top of a diverse and crowded GOP nomination field. He went into the General with no ground game, he has failed to build one since. In fact, he’s been piggybacking on the (comparatively weak) Republican infrastructure to get him through. That was a bad strategy in the first place and now after the GTBTP (Grab Them By The *cat emoji*) debacle, that resource appears to be out of his reach.

2. This is not a professional campaign operation.

Professionalized politics starts at the very top – with the candidate. A candidate sets the tone, drives the policy and starts the strategy. They attract and retain talented staff to make it all real and turn it into votes. The campaign staff create diverse and smart opportunities for the candidate to go out and represent and augment that strategy and policy. While a candidate is in charge of the campaign, a professional staff will set limits. Professional campaigns do not allow candidates to rant on Twitter at 3am. They don’t allow a candidate to skip debate prep. They don’t film half-apologies at midnight. They don’t allow a candidate to spend a week fixated on a single non-campaign issue. They don’t allow the rest of the party to abandon its Presidential candidate. They don’t outright insult and alienate people like Mitt Romney and John McCain. Trump’s campaign is completely bereft of all of these qualities.

3. He’s checkmated himself with his own rhetoric and bluster.

Donald Trump has built a campaign on a style that attracts a large number of voters who, by and large, are disenfranchised with the direction of America and the type of people who have been traditionally tasked with leading it. That’s fair enough. And it was a smart strategy to win the GOP primary, especially with Obama in office. Applying that strategy to the General election has brought him within close to striking distance of a chance at winning.

Here’s his biggest problem. He needs more than this relatively reliable cohort to win. He needs to capture the votes of more moderate, independent voters who are mailable or undecided. With the stark nature of the offence in his GTBTP video, he needs to work harder to access those particular voters. But what he needs to do to access those voters threatens to alienate his original base of voters, which he also needs in order to win. They don’t want to vote for a guy that apologizes for “locker room talk.” That puts Trump in an impossible position that a talented, experienced candidate and team might be able to navigate out of – but, as discussed, Trump doesn’t have that.

4. He’s only been ahead for a fleeting moment in this election.

Take a quick look at polling aggregators. Only once – after the GOP Convention – has he ever been polling better than Hillary Clinton. And that peak was followed with his steepest decline of the last year. His polling has been over the place, but it hasn’t crossed Hillary Clinton’s horizon. And, at this point, it seems extremely unlikely that it will. Only the most charismatic, skilled politician could make up that structural polling deficit. He doesn’t have either.

These are all critical problems. Each of them would need to be rectified in order for him to be victorious in this election. No single debate performance, Clinton scandal, rally speech or publicity stunt can save him from these serious systemic problems.

Breathe easy – Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States.


Chris Henderson has been working on campaigns since he was 11 years old. He once successfully convinced Dave Cournoyer to shave his beard. Today, he is a Strategist at Calder Bateman Communications.

Categories
Alberta Politics

alberta politics notes 11/11/2010

Alberta Party Conference in Red Deer
The upcoming Alberta Party policy conference in Red Deer is getting attention from the political class, including provincial Tories who are nervous about the links between the new party and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi‘s campaign team. On the Saturday evening of the conference, Mayor Nenshi’s Campaign Director and Chief of Staff Chima Nkemdirim and campaign Communications Coordinator Richard Einarson will be participating in an political discussion panel (which will also include Mayor Stephen Mandel‘s Chief of Staff and Campaign Manager Patricia Mistuka, Councillor Don Iveson‘s campaign manager Chris Henderson, and the new Mayor of Grande Prairie Bill Given).

No room for good ideas?
Proving that the current political climate in Alberta is not always friendly to thought-provoking ideas, Battle River-Wainwright PC MLA Doug Griffiths is feeling a lash back by the political establishment within his party and the opposition. After trying to start a public discussion about how a provincial sales tax could  reduce government dependency on natural resource revenue, Mr. Griffiths became the target of his own colleagues who shot down his idea at the recent PC Party convention and by the Wildrose Alliance, who have used Mr. Griffiths’ comments as a fundraising-focused attack campaign.

Maybe it is something about Battle River-Wainwright, because this is not the first time an idea coming from that constituency was shot down by the political establishment. At the 2008 PC policy convention, that constituency association brought forward a motion supporting fixed elections dates. The motion passed at the policy convention and was soon after introduced as a private members bill (Bill 203: Election Statutes (Fixed Election Dates)) in the Assembly by St. Albert PC MLA Ken Allred.

Mr. Allred’s private members bill was attacked by Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills PC MLA Richard Marz, who claimed that the creation of fixed election dates would allow public sector unions to schedule strikes near election dates (because as all Albertans know, it is those evil public sector Unions who have been standing in between the PC Party and majority governments for the past forty years… oh wait…). The fixed election dates bill was tabled to be discussed six months later. Two years later, the bill remains tabled and there is no sign that any debate will reassume.

On a similar note, Edmonton-McClung PC MLA David Xiao hopes to start a discussion on mandatory voting in Alberta. While the idea probably has enough merit to deserve the opportunity to be debated and fully discussed, it is likely doomed to reach the waste bin of ideas to combat electoral disinterest.

Liberal Environment Policy
Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman released the Liberal Caucus environment policy yesterday, which includes a hard cap on greenhouse gas emissions by 2017 and a provincial groundwater inventory and water quality monitoring program.


Water
The fight over access to fresh water may be one of the next big fights on the political horizon as Premier Ed Stelmach has said that new water storage will need to be created in Southern Alberta to help increase industrial development.

As part of a country-wide speaking tour, Council of Canadian chairperson Maude Barlow was in Edmonton in October and warned against the creation of water markets that could open the sale fresh water from Alberta to corporations and overseas markets. Ms. Barlow believes that water should be held in a public trust and has outlined her beliefs in a new book, Blue Covenant: The Global The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water

Read more in the Alberta Politics Notes archive.