Tag Archives: Homelessness

6 reasons why Alberta history will be kind to Ed Stelmach

Five years ago today, Ed Stelmach began the process of quietly stepping out of the political spotlight by announcing his resignation as Premier of Alberta after nearly five years in the office.

The mild-mannered farmer from the Village of Andrew dedicated more than twenty-five years of his life to municipal and provincial politics and led the Progressive Conservative Association to win one of its largest electoral victories in its forty-four years as government. Despite this win, his party’s Calgary establishment never forgave him for defeating their choice for leader in the 2006 leadership race.

On January 25, 2011, facing dangerous ideological divisions in his party and caucus, Mr. Stelmach announced his decision to resign. On October 7, 2011, he was replaced as premier and party leader by Calgary MLA Alison Redford.

While there were certainly controversies and missteps during his time as premier, Mr. Stelmach made a number of significant decisions that have had a positive effect on our province. Considering my history with the man, some readers may be surprised to learn that I believe history will be kind to Alberta’s thirteenth Premier. Here’s why.

Six reasons why Alberta history will be kind to Ed Stelmach

1) Mr. Stelmach reinvested in public services and infrastructure. After years of neglect, his government tackled the province’s growing deferred maintenance budget by investing billions of dollars into public infrastructure.

The Municipal Sustainability Initiative and the $1 billion GreenTrip Fund provided to municipalities allowed for the expansion of public transit in Alberta’s fast-growing cities. A series of 5% increases to the health care budget helped to stabilize the see-saw of unpredictable funding allocated by his predecessor, Ralph Klein.

2) The creation of the Capital Region Board helped de-escalate the tensions and narrow the deep divisions between the dozens of municipalities in the Edmonton region. While tensions still exist in some corners of the capital region, Mr. Stelmach helped usher a détente‎ by forcing the municipal politicians to use a process for resolving grievances and planning the future.

3) The creation of the Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness set a bold plan in motion to eliminate homelessness in our province by 2017. While homelessenss will not be eliminated by 2017, the provincial plan along with plans to end homelessness in CalgaryEdmonton and other cities, thousands of Albertans have been successfully housed through programs like Housing First.

4) The introduction of the Lobbyist Registry helped shine a spotlight into the shadowy world of political lobbying and horse-trading. Although not foolproof, the registry gives Albertans a chance to see who is being paid to influence their elected officials on a daily basis.

5) During his first year in office, Mr. Stelmach concluded a deal with the Alberta Teachers’ Association in which the province agreed to contribute $2.1 billion towards the $6.6 billion unfunded pension liability. In exchange, Alberta’s 34,000 teachers  agreed to a five-year contract. This is a stark contrast to his predecessor and successor, who waged war on Alberta’s public sector workers, their pensions and their unions.

6) In the spirit of former Premier Peter Lougheed, Mr. Stelmach moved the Tories back to the centre of the political spectrum. While he did not stay to face them in an election, he recognized that to compete with the right-wing Wildrose Party, then led by Danielle Smith, he needed to move his party to the middle, rather than the political right. While this angered his opponents both inside and outside his party, this decision may have helped save his party from political defeat in the 2012 election. Had he remained leader of the PC Party, he might still be Premier of Alberta today.

While he never enjoyed the same level of personal popularity as Mr. Klein, I suspect the actions Mr. Stelmach took while in office will have a longer lasting positive impact in this province than those of his immediate predecessor.

(This post is an updated version of an article first published in 2013)

Peter Goldring MP Edmonton

Bizarre MP Peter Goldring admits to wearing a secret video camera pen to work

Edmonton-East Member of Parliament Peter Goldring has spent much of his Ottawa career in pursuit of odd-ball political issues.

A holdover from the loony days of the Reform Party of Canada, Mr. Goldring has already announced his plans to retire when the next election is called. But even in his final year as an MP, he remains a firm member of the bozo wing of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Peter Goldring Marriage

Marriage advice from MP Peter Goldring (click for larger image).

The latest news from Mr. Goldring is the strange revelation that he wears a pocket pen with a hidden video camera inside it while at work on Parliament Hill, and especially while driving (referring to a charge he faced in 2011 for refusing a breathalyzer test when he was pulled over by police in Edmonton).

This is not the first time Mr. Goldring has brought up the topic of body cameras. He suggested in November 2014 that his fellow MPs should wear body cameras to guard against allegations of sexual misconduct and “prevent besmirchment when encounters run awry.” He was quickly forced by the Prime Minister’s Office to retract his statement.

As a constituent in Edmonton-East, I am always anxious to discover what strange topic Mr. Goldring decides to focus on in his mail newsletter or column in the community newspaper. In one of his latest columns in my community league newspaper, Mr. Goldring offered advice on marriage and disputed “the myth of high divorce rates.” About 90 per cent of the column was an excerpt from a speech made by a Saskatchewan MP Maurice Vellacott.

“If people were to realize these facts and that most marriages do make it, they would be less skittish about tying the knot,” Mr. Vellacott’s proclaimed in the speech.

Peter Goldring MP Edmonton Body Camera

Artists rendering of Peter Goldring wearing a body camera (image by @mike_kendrick)

Previous columns and newsletters from Mr. Goldring have defended “in all thy sons command” as a grammatically superior phrase in the national anthem and protested an obscure private members’ bill in the Quebec National Assembly. And in November 2014, his constituency office mailed out what can only be described as a ‘Peter Goldring-themed’ 2015 calendar, with each month outlining an achievement in his 17 year political career.

Mr. Goldring is perhaps most well known across Canada for his advocacy to bring the British Caribbean islands of Turks and Caicos into Canadian Confederation. This is an idea that might feel appealing when the temperature is close to -30C in Edmonton, but comes with some obvious geographic and practically difficulties. For starters, in 2009, the United Kingdom suspended the local government and took direct control of the overseas territory because of corruption allegations.

Louis_Riel

Louis Riel

On the historical front, Mr. Goldring has been a fierce critic of Métis hero Louis Riel, who the MP describes as a “villain.” Mr. Riel was executed by the Canadian government in 1885, roughly 59 years before Mr. Goldring was born. It is unclear if the MP considers any other historical figures to be his arch-enemies.

On the issue of homelessness, Mr. Goldring considers himself an expert. In October 2014, he suggested that the methodology used to count the homeless population in Edmonton is wrong. He used himself as an example, saying that he considers himself to be without a home in Ottawa.

In the field of international diplomacy, Mr. Goldring has demanded that Canada declare war on the Nuclear-armed Russian Federation over the latter country’s military action against Ukraine and described last year’s Scottish Independence Referendum as “a sham.”

First elected in 1997, Mr. Goldring has served as member of the Reform Party, Canadian Alliance and Conservative Party, excluding a brief time as an Independent MP while fighting a drunken driving charge. He has been re-elected five times.

His success truly speaks as a testament to the strength of the Reform, Canadian Alliance and Conservative Party brands in Alberta.


With Mr. Goldring’s retirement, New Democrat Janis Irwin, Liberal Daniol Coles, Green Heather Workman, and Conservative Kerry Diotte will face each other in the next federal election in the new federal riding of Edmonton-Griesbach.

Rejection of Gay-Straight Alliances motion shows some Alberta MLAs need a reality check

Be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly urge the Government to introduce legislation, like Manitoba’s and Ontario’s, requiring all school boards to develop policies to support students who want to lead and establish gay-straight alliance activities and organizations, using any name that is consistent with the promotion of a positive school environment that is inclusive, welcoming, and respectful for all students regardless of sexuality, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

It was a simple motion introduced on the floor of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly on April 7, 2014 that would help create safer environments for students in schools. Nineteen Liberal, New Democrat, and Progressive Conservative MLAs voted in favour of the motion, but it failed after 31 PC and Wildrose MLAs stood up and voted against it.

Kent Hehr MLA Calgary-Buffalo

Kent Hehr

Motion 503, introduced by Calgary-Buffalo MLA Kent Hehr, was not a piece of binding legislation, it was a symbolic message of that all students, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, can be welcomed and accepted in Alberta’s education system.

Creating safe and supportive environments for all students, including LGBTQ youth who may face discrimination in and outside of school, should be something that is encouraged by MLAs.

Mr. Hehr’s motion undoubtably would have made some social conservatives uncomfortable, but it would have ultimately helped drag some of Alberta’s more stodgy school boards into the 21st century. The motion would not have forced any school board to form student-led gay-straight alliances, but it would have compelled the elected boards to accept the existence of the groups if students in their schools chose to organize them.

Alberta MLA Vote Gay Straight Alliances Vote Motion 503

A map showing the constituencies represented by MLAs who voted in favour (blue) and against (red) Motion 503. White indicates MLAs who were not present for the vote. (Click to enlarge)

Passage of this motion would have sent a strong message that tolerance and acceptance are priorities Alberta’s provincial legislators.

Anti-bullying minister Sandra Jansen voted in favour but Education minister Jeff Johnson voted against it.

Missing from the vote were Premier Dave Hancock and NDP leader Brian Mason, who both later said they would have voted in favour had they been in the Assembly. Wildrose opposition leader Danielle Smith was not present for the vote and it is not clear if she would have voted differently than her party’s MLAs.

The divided PC government caucus also missed an opportunity to send a clear message that they embrace 21st century values by singling out the opposition Wildrose as the only party to unanimously vote against the motion – and remind Albertans of the infamous Lake of Fire.  And for the Wildrose, a vote for the motion, even by one or two of that party’s MLAs, would have done a lot of demonstrate the party is more moderate on social issues than its opponents claim.

In total, 36 MLAs were absent from the vote (minus the Speaker, who abstains from votes of the Assembly).

Voted in Favour: 19
Deron Bilous (NDP)
Laurie Blakeman (LIB)
Neil Brown (PC)
Pearl Calahasen (PC)
Cal Dallas (PC)
Alana DeLong (PC)
David Eggen (NDP)
Kyle Fawcett (PC)
Kent Hehr (LIB)
Ken Hughes (PC)
Sandra Jansen (PC)
Heather Klimchuk (PC)
Jason Luan (PC)
Thomas Luksazuk (PC)
Rachel Notley (NDP)
Don Scott (PC)
Raj Sherman (LIB)
David Swann (LIB)
Teresa Woo-Paw (PC)
Voted against: 31
Moe Amery (PC)
Rob Anderson (WR)
Drew Barnes (WR)
Gary Bikman (WR)
Robin Campbell (PC)
Ron Casey (PC)
Christine Cusanelli (PC)
Ian Donovan (WR)
David Dorward (PC)
Wayne Drysdale (PC)
Jacquie Fenske (PC)
Rick Fraser (PC)
Yvonne Fritz (PC)
Hector Goudreau (PC)
Jeff Johnson (PC)
Linda Johnson (PC)
Maureen Kubinec (PC)
Genia Leskiw (PC)
Bruce McAllister (WR)
Everett McDonald (PC)
Diana McQueen (PC)
Frank Oberle (PC)
Bridget Pastoor (PC)
Dave Rodney (PC)
Bruce Rowe (WR)
Shayne Saskiw (WR)
Richard Starke (PC)
Rick Strankman (WR)
Kerry Towle (WR)
George VanderBurg (PC)
Greg Weadick (PC)