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Alberta Tories Ed Stelmach Jim Dinning

it’s cozy in there.

If you haven’t already, read Sheila Pratt‘s column from Sunday’s Edmonton Journal. It’s a great article that takes Ed Stelmach to task for hiring Suncor VP Heather Kennedy as an assistant deputy minister in the Tory Governments oilsands development secretariat. Pratt hits it right on the mark:

“This stinks so badly it makes the toxic lakes on the oilsands mines smell like garden ponds. The worst is that the government doesn’t seem to get the potential conflicts staring it in the face.

Something about the fox and the henhouse quickly comes to mind when the job of coming up with public policy to best manage growth around the oilsands is handed over to a current oilpatch executive, even temporarily.

Would you hire agriculture biotech giant Monsanto, purveyor of GM seeds, to run the agriculture department’s crop improvement program? Or hire Greenpeace to run the environment department? No, the captains of industry and active lobbyists have their own agendas and it’s not always the public agenda.

The treasury department did consult the ethics commissioner about Kennedy’s appointment, which is a signal it had a few qualms. Too bad Alberta’s ethics report is off limits to the public — even though it involved a public servant.

Maybe Stelmach doesn’t understand the mood in post-Klein Alberta.

People voted for him — and against Jim Dinning — partly because they were unhappy about the cosy relationship between business and government, because they thought the oilpatch had too much influence and they wanted a change.

Well, now they’ve got the oilpatch in the senior civil service.

This controversy was totally unnecessary if the government had thought for one moment about it.

There’s no lack of smart people in this province to do the jobs. But there’s shortage of good political judgement in Stelmach’s cabinet.

Kennedy’s appointment comes on the heels of another business cozy controversy in Stelmach’s Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville riding. The Fort Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce attempted to organize a $300 per person fundraiser where half the funds would go to Stelmach’s Constituency Association. The breaks were put on the fundraiser only after a frontpage story and editorial in the Sturgeon Creek Post called on the Chamber to halt its partisan hackery. Dave Truscott is the editor of the Sturgeon Creek Post:

“…there is a time and place for political support, and the Chamber of Commerce is not that place. As a long time member and support of the Chamber I must protest…”

“…to support a whole party or a candidate would be a mistake even if it were not against the bylaws. Governments and candidates come and go. The Chamber of Commerce represents something more enduring. It must be prepared to deal with whoever is in office.”

“I have to add that there is also something very wrong with paying so high a fee to get the ear of our premier. This smacks very much of bribery…”

Chamber of Commerce by-laws are supposed to assure that all Chambers are apolitical, non-partisan, and are not to support any political candidates.

It looks like Ed’s making Jim happy.

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