Rob Anderson Shayne Saskiw

pc policy veep defects to the wildrose alliance.

This landed in my inbox this afternoon:

Subject: Executive Committee Resignation
Date: Thu, 21 Jan 2010 13:56:49 -0700

Dear Members of the Executive Committee:

Mr. Shayne Saskiw, until today our VP of Policy and Resolutions, has left us to join the WAP. Although we only received his letter of resignation a few minutes ago, we have expected this move for some time and we also expect the WAP to issue a news release this afternoon. Please refer any media calls to me or to Jim Campbell.

Many of you will know that Mr. Saskiw is one of MLA Rob Anderson’s best friends and we believed that Mr. Saskiw would follow Mr. Anderson. We feel it is appropriate that Mr. Saskiw go where he might be more comfortable and we wish him luck. We always hate to lose a volunteer, no matter whether he or she is a member of the Executive or a member of a constituency board. We value our volunteers and the incredible efforts they make on our behalf -therefore, I want to express my thanks and appreciation to you for your continued hard work.

As we had anticipated this move, I have already spoken to an individual who is willing to assume Mr. Saskiw’s duties until the 2010 AGM and Convention, when the position is up for election. It is important that we put this person in place as soon as possible so that planning for the 2010 Policy Conference can continue without pause, and I hope for your approval of my proposal at our meeting on Saturday.

Again, thank you for all that you do. I am confident that 2010 is going to be a very good year for PC Alberta and I look forward greatly to seeing you all in two days.

Best regards,

Bill Smith

Mr. Saskiw’s position on the PC website is already listed as vacant.

37 replies on “pc policy veep defects to the wildrose alliance.”

Anyone know which faith this individual belongs to? Anderson and Hinman are Mormons, as was the original Alliance core around Randy Thorsteinson.

People need to be aware of how closely tied this Wildrose party is to such a socially-conservative (and loopy) religion.

Ummm. The "loopy" comment is really unnecessary. Maybe there should be a law that only allows people from non-loopy religions to participate in democracy? Or maybe we should ban beliefs or democracy altogether.

No, the loopy comment was absolutely neccesary. In fact it was the best part of the comment. Any group of Morons that believe Christ lived in the USA and that the garden of Eden was actually the state of Missouri deserve ridicule.

Sorry did I say Morons? I meant Morons. Oh wait, I meant Mormons.

Those morons.

When the 2008 Wildrose Alliance candidate list was released Shayne, who resided in the Edmonton constituency I was running in, was the first constituent to give me a call. He was with Felesky Flynn at the time, the premier tax law specialty firm in Edmonton and I promptly forwarded his name to John Murdoch saying the party leadership should try and get him involved on tax policy development. After the election I repeated the recommendation to John Hilton O'Brien and Link Byfield and added that "I think he'd be a star candidate if he ever wanted to run for us."

I don't actually know if he voted for me in 2008 or not, because his interest seemed to wane as it became clear Wildrose would perform poorly at the polls that election. Later on I learned that he was back in the PC fold, but I suspected that Wildrose might see him again if we could shed fringe party status and if there was a leadership change.

Hopefully the Wildrose leadership will offer him something like Chair of a Tax Policy task force or something.

"loopy religion"? "mormons are morons"? Are you planning a cross burning tonight? What absolute bigotry. Anyone who has friends who happen to be Mormons know full well how good and honest people they are.

If these comments are from PC supporters, I think Ill be joining the Liberals or WRA tomorrow.

What pathetic comments – shameful that someone would be so hateful.

Why is it that people love to mix religion into politics? In an attempt to marginalize the WAP, you've made yourself look quite ridiculous! For starters, Shayne does not practice a particular religion (although I believe his family came from Ukranian Orthodox roots), and the leader of the party is a Libertarian!! The WAP members are just as diverse as the PCs in their various belief systems. Furthermore, any religion that encourages it's members to live honorably with strong values should never be belittled. Shame on you!

Nah, Shayne is not a mormon. Nor is he really particularly religious. He is a close friend of Rob Anderson. Any suggestion that anything other than that, and the fact he's always been to the fiscal conservative/libertarian wing of the PCs affected his decision is going to miss the mark. Stelmache is simply being deserted by the right..

It is improper and offensive to bash adherents of a particular religion in a political commentary (and I say this from the perspective of a convinced atheist). People have freedom of conscience in this country, which includes the freedom to worship, or not, as they see fit. This does not rule out critical comment on a person's actions if they are governed by their religion, or of hypocrisy in personal or public behaviour. Bottom line: criticize actions, not beliefs.

Here's the thing about "conservatives".

There are conservatives who believe in a simple world where everything is black and white.. where the "good old days" were how it should be.

Where maintaining marriage by coercion, where women can't leave, because they can't obtain reasonable child support, was part of the "good old days".

Where organized labour was not such a "nuisance" and business could unilaterally dictate the working conditions of it's employees, without either union or government regulation "complicating" free enterprise.

And then there are conservatives who believe in encouraging individual initiative, encouraging independance from government, but who recognize that the world today is significantly better than the world yesterday, and can yet be better tomorrow.

Where problems are complex and require compassion, but discipline in resolving. Where the "principles" of honesty and decency are not code-words for "Christian Theocracy".

And these conservatives do not necessarily get along.

And, when, over time, the majority of what I'll call "thinking conservatives" do not pander to the "simple conservatives", well, the simple conservatives get angry and, finally, break off and decide to play on their own.

Which is good.

And, you know what, more simple conservatives will probably leave after Saskiw.

Which is good.

And if the PC party, at some point, loses an election because the "simple" conservatives outnumber the "thinking" conservatives, well, I'll still sleep at night.

Because my principles are not for sale for a vote.

It's interesting that "Christian theocracy" appears to be the slur to be hurled against fiscal conservatives. Its being applied here to a fellow who isn't known for any particular religious impulse. His political beliefs simply enourage transparency and democracy in government, low taxes and limited government intervention in the lives of individuals. The fact that fiscal conservatives and libertarians have no time for Stelmache's spending like a drunken sailor nor his pursuit of unpopular measures such as those regarding power lines are what is driving conservatives to the alliance not some religious fervor. The delusions and arrogance of red tories (or simply socialists a rose by any other name..) is as ever simply stunning.

So the turncoat social conservative Rob Anderson's friend leaves. Big deal. Just shows how extreme the WAP really is.

Say what you will Chris, I've been in the party for a while, and the most irritating thing with the hardliners is a desire to resort to "simple conservatism".. which I might also call "selfish conservatism".

We still have a great lifestyle, and have for many years, been he envy of Canada and much of the world.

Yet, when times get a little tough, and spending outpaces income.. we hear about our Premier "spending like a drunken sailor".. give me specifics, Chris.

Where are the cuts coming?

And that's the thing the Wild Rosers won't tell you. They give you generalities and gobbeldygook like, "if spending was controled, we wouldn't have to make cuts."

Which is just double-speak – because if "spending was controlled", well, where would we NOT be spending what we are today?

Oh. And btw.. they also want to reduce royalies to the oil indusry, which already has one of the sweetest deals in the world. I'm not sure how that translates into "lower deficit".

Bottom line.

WRA want a world where they don't have to deal with the realities of a comlex modern society.

And, they want a world premised upon "what's in it for ME".

And don't kid yourself, when you hear a conservative talking about "moral values" and "family values", they are, as often as not, talking about "Christian family values".

And I'm a Christian.

But I don't need legislation to help me feel secure in my faith.. ie) "freedom of conscience" legislation.

And go ahead.

Call me a "red tory" or whatever.. and I love the trotting out of "socialist" as well.


So, you don't accept any medical care in Canada, Chris? You travel down to the U.S. for all of your care?

And you put your children in private school I'm sure, and would never think about going to a Canadian university.. unless of course you are some pompous hypocrit, because I'm SURE you wouldn't want to take advantage of a socialist, government funded benefit system, would you?


To those of you who read Dave's blog, and are, no doubt, Liberal and NDP supporters – while we may not agree on a lot, rest assured, not all small "c" conservatives are this stupid and narrow-minded.

Well, Mr Harvie, the membership of your party rejected a call for limiting spending growth to inflation plus population growth going forward, as you would recall from your party's November AGM. It was a measure the Alberta Altruist was not inclined to defend and distanced himself from the party accordingly. It seems you aren't inclined to do the same.

"What are you going to cut?" is the same line we heard out of Iris Evans when she was presenting budgets that grew by double-digit annual rates. IT IS UNSUSTAINABLE. It is unnecessary to cut if one budgets sustainably.

Boosting spending is not the same political issue as cutting spending – every big govt apologist wants to make it about cuts, since that argument is much easier to win politically. It's like the "starve the beast" argument advanced by some fiscal conservatives, but this time by fiscal liberals.

Your whole meme seems to be that Wildrosers can't appreciate nuance. But since when has the PC party been the picture of cosmopolitan sophistication that deftly handles all fine shadings of grey? The royalty review was anything but finely tuned. It was a populist sledgehammer. Wildrose seeking business input does not mean business ruling the roost, it means LISTENING to all stakeholders.

Any group of Morons that believe Christ lived in the USA and that the garden of Eden was actually the state of Missouri deserve ridicule.

First you do not understand Mormonism and your quote here pretty much proves you are talking badly for the sake of it.

Ignorance does not make you some how better anymore than it looks good when conservatives in the US go after all Muslims. In fact it is outright embarassing.

See I do not accuse my progressive friends of having secret agendas or that they are EVIIIIL. I just know that we both want what is best but we go at it from a different angle. I realise that is unsexy for some but it is better than a smear campaign based on little more than decorated hate.

I saw that the policies that were coming out of the Alberta government were too left and were inconsistent with my own personal conservative values and beliefs.

Just what we need — a truly conservative alternative to all those lefty PCs!

Let's get this discussion back on topic. Albertans, of all people, should recognize that loopiness is not faith-specific.

Dave are you responsible for the any anti-you-name-it religious dogma that's spewed here? As in, do you have to take into censoring some of the posts here?
Or is religion fair game?

Funny PC ad there "Smarten Up". I especially like how you looped a clip out of context to make it look like Dr. Swann was suggesting a never ending litany of national programs.

Dishonest much?

Still, I wouldn't have used the phrase "national energy policy" if I was Dr. Swann…

I have little of import to say about either Saskiw's defection or the random diatribes at the beginning of the comments.
However, I'd like to thank R.G. Harvie for stepping forward and articulately defending centrist, red tory conservatism. It feels like political debate in Alberta gets so obsessed over who can be further right than the next person, and it feels like centrist conservatives are afraid to speak up and defend what they believe.
In all my experience in Alberta, including considerable door-knocking last election in Westlock-St. Paul, I'd say that most Albertans are closer to the centre than the far right, with the notable exception of evangelical activists. Small businessmen want a fairly low tax model, but they're willing to pay taxes so that their kids can go to a good school, and so their parents can get a hip replacement if needed. I'm not a PC supporter, but I'd vote for them any day over the WAP.
And so I'll lay down the challenge for any WAP member to answer exactly what they'd like to cut. Which taxes? Which hospitals? Which roads? "Sustainable budgeting" sounds nice, but if we all agree that there's a fiscal problem in this province, then tell me frankly how you'd like to fix it.

What would i cut personally? Probably something like the following which is based on a perusal of last year's budget.

You could eliminate 84% of the Ministry of Culture and Community Spirit. I'd graciously preserve the museums and historic sites but the rest of the department would be an easy cut. That would save 270 million.

I'd also halt the building of the projected 1.2 billion dollars worth of government facilities which aren't attributable to health, education, water quality, roads etc. The province can make do with its existing office space.

I see little need to plough money into carbon capture over three years that was supported to the tune of 800 so you can save approximately 200 million right there. No reasonable person believes the possibility of a two degree change is climate is the fanciful end of days scenario that David Suzuki believes in.

I'd cancel the 178 million spent on affordable housing.

That's about 2 billion. After that you'd have to start getting into the line items of the various departmental budgets and cutting.

As for the suggestion that any sort of fiscal conservative or libertarian line of thinking is based on "what's in it for me?", the truth of the matter is that it's quite the opposite. The clamour for the government to fund this, to pay for that, to take care care of the next thing is the expression of 'what's in it for me?' I dislike it and am of the view that this impulse infantalizes the individual and leaves them dependent upon the government, when they should properly arrange their own affairs.

The demand for government programs is JFK's "what can your government do for you?" given expression by various fears and jealousies that have plagued people over a period time. My personal inclination is to live my life with minimal intrusion from the government. I'd much prefer the government to accomodate that and tax me accordingly.

Have I used the health system, education system etc? Yes, I'm paying for it. I don't see why I should pay for things twice over based on the position that I think its quite possible for the government to leave us to make our own arrangements for our affairs as independent adults. I'm not really given the option of opting out of the taxes associated with paying for services, I'm sure we could all revaluate how one could remain properly idealogically pure when that option is presented.

As for 'family values' or 'religious laws' I'm afraid you're again assuming all fiscal conservatives are social conservatives and truly that's not the case. If it were up to I, Edmonton could be a colder version of Amsterdam and Las Vegas rolled into one. As long as people respect each other's property rights and persons I have no interest in interferring with their private actions, lives or entertainments. Its really none of my business and I don't much care.

@ANON 1:59

If you feel the ad is out of context or misleading, I recommend you view the whole clip online here.

It's near the end, but the whole thing is worth watching. David Swann clearly calls for an NEP and a litany of other national programs. He makes a fool of himself.

Thank you for your response Chris. While I disagree with it, I appreciate that there can be a mature discussion of values and policy without reverting to slamming one party or another.
Now, if you could tolerate me going on further about this, I have some concerns and questions about the libertarianism you're talking about. I think I understand the aversion to the sense of entitlement you're perceiving, the attitude of "the government should solve my problems". While it does exist, from my experience I would guess it's the exception rather than the rule, especially in Alberta.
My issue is what I perceive as the libertarian glorification of the individual as the end all and be all of society; that government's role should be to maximize the freedom of the individual. This idea leaves no room for community, society or country. The second half of your JFK quote is "[ask] what you can do for your country." Are we all in this for ourselves, or should we be concerned about others in society? If it's the former, then government is viewed as an illegitimate obstacle to the individual doing their own thing. How can government be expected to make hard decisions that benefit the whole of society, like healthcare, infrastructure development, post-secondary research? If every citizen is first and foremost concerned about increasing their 'freedom' by reducing the taxes they pay, how do these public projects get done?

Gotta love how Harvies' classification of Chris as a "simple conservative" is pretty much confirmed by Chris' absurd list of proposed spending cuts.

Yep, eliminating 85% of a ministry in one swoop probably shouldn't be a problem. People definitely will not miss the Jubilee Auditoriums, white elephants that they are! Nor would anyone miss affordable housing funding, despite the cavalcade of municipalities and community groups that have been pushing for it for the last decade or so. Sheesh.

It seems that the longer Ms. Smith refuses to clearly define her party's positions, the more her followers are taking to the web and doing that work for her.

Since she'd probably rather not have media dig up such "nuanced" quotes as the cuts proposed here, she had better get on with the real work of being a party leader.

Saskiw, along with Rob Anderson, are both right-wing radicals and quite frankly I'm glad they're no longer members of the party.

Both of them are opportunist weasels.

I just finished reading the comments on daveberta about the defection of Saskiw to the Wildrose Alliance. That kind of political rhetoric and religious bigotry must stop.
Clearly and competently illustrating the Wildrose Alliance principles and policies as reverting to the past, regressive- returning to previous conditions and draconian- less developed and more harsh or severe.
That is the more constructive approach.
And confirming the principles of is the beginning.
Open minded, broad minded and tolerant of all viewpoints. Bringing all progressive politicos into the big tent.
Progressive meaning moving forward not backwards, favouring reform- reorganize, change and improve; correcting faults and inconsistencies, especially the ineffective and the unjust and protecting personal freedom.
Socially generous and culturally oriented. Ridding the political world of the unacceptable.

Aden, I do feel there is some role for government in society. I do likely differ from others in the degree to which it is necessary. Generally speaking I'm in agreement with Adam Smith that the role of government is to regulate markets, defense, policing, foreign relations, engage in dispute resolution through the courts and otherwise providing necessities which cannot be accomplished through private means. Roads, bridges and other infrastructure being the common example.

I don't see a conflict between attempting to maximize the individual's liberty and the good of society. I think Thatcher quite rightly asked "what is society but a collection of individuals?" I don't percieve it as being distinct from that.

Chris – perhaps you should should read what Adam Smith actually wrote.

The underlying ideology of all neocons (i.e.: WAP and far right conservativism) is grounded in Social Darwinism.

There is no place for community or caring for others in "the survival of the fittest".

There is an inability to understand the role that arts and culture play in a civilised society or indeed, the benefit they contribute to the well-being and advancement of society.

This is living in a world that can only be understood and "appreciated" in quantifiable terms – there is no place for "quality of life" in such a world.

According to the most recent information from the UN, more than 50% of the total personal wealth on this planet is in the hands of 0.00000000009171875% of the population of the planet. 587 billionaires hold more personal wealth than the combined personal wealth of the lowest income 3.2 billion.

And the fact is, whether one is in that top 587, or the bottom 3.2 billion, is pretty much an accident of birth.

So, back to the point. If you want to talk about being guided or inspired by social philosophers, what about Hobbes, or Bentham, or J.S.Mill? Or can we conclude that you haven't read them (either)?

If you subscribe to the notion that "we are the government" – that is, the government exists to serve our will, then how can "we" paying the money needed to accomplish our will (taxes) be an "evil" thing?

If my house needs a new roof, then I have to pay for a new roof. I may not like having to do that (perhaps I'd rather use that money for a new pick-up truck) but it is necessary.

Or if I want my children to attend a post-secondary institution, then I'm going to have to pay for that (more every year thanks to "fiscal conservatives").

I don't have to do that – what the hell – let them get there and earn their tuition. That's what I had to do – and besides, it will be a good life lesson for them.

Or – if I'm in a position to give them an advantage that I didn't have, why would I not do that?

"Maximizing the individual's liberty" means, as Hobbes so accurately put it, that the life of all individuals is "nasty, brutish, and short".

A muffin is a collection of molecules; is a collection of molecules different from a muffin?

I would say it is.

"A society is a collection of individuals" is an incomplete description of a society. A society is a collection of individuals with shared values, mores, norms of behaviour, and fundamental beliefs.

When a society reaches the level of complexity that ours has reached, there are also a plethora of laws, as the extent and diversity of the society has reached a point where shared values and norms are no longer sufficient.

The problem with the ideologues is that they are incapable of understanding or appreciating the fact that complexities of our society are not resolvable in "black and white" terms. There are no quick and easy answers ("If only we had less taxes and less government interference, then everything would be wonderful!").

No, this is not rocket science, it's far more complicated than that.


As for Art, Culture etc, these activities can still go on. It won't end. Not all of this is the responsibility of government. This is instead the domain of free people to take on for themselves.

It is not up to me via government to fund some art project. It is the responsibility for those who enjoy and appreciate it to take responsibility for it and seek private sources of funding and to carry it out as they see fit not how some bureaucrat sees fit with all their silly politically contaminated funding conditions. If I want to enjoy that art project, I will happily pay for it. But I absolutely reject having the government making that decision on my behalf.

Is this "Darwinistic"? Your darn right it is. And there is nothing wrong with it.

Saskiw was well within his right to leave his position with the PC Party.

One of the reasons he was elected to the post in the first place was that he brought a new, fresh face to a tired, old executive. The downside of that, in the eyes of party brass, was that he actually believed that he could help the membership influence government policy. Normally, that kind of "silly" idealism is quashed by the promise of some provincial appointments if you keep your mouth shut and to what the party office tells you.

Shayne, fortunately, has a mind of his own and obviously didn't by into the notion that "policy isn't set by the members, its set by the guys with the bucks". Good thing, since the guys with the bucks have all but abandoned the PC ship.

Good on Shayne for realizing that, as a political vehicle, PC Alberta is broken beyond repair. I read a fitting quote somewhere: "The demise of the PC Party of Alberta is richly deserved and a pleasure to watch". So true.

Chris, the famous JFK quote was, "Ask NOT what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country".

Hardly a paean to government program entitlements!

Well, here’s something that can be cut.

The collective PDD Boards of the province, which take care of people with developmental disabilities such as autism, have a budget of $700 million dollars. About 20% of that is spent on administration.

The other 80% of the budget is spent on contracting services to charities and for-profit organizations, which do the actual care. These agencies have their own administration expense, which totals around 7% of their contract. The rest of their money is spent on hours of direct service to persons with disabilities by frontline staff.

PDD has spent the winter and spring trying to cut about $13 million from the budgets of the agencies. They made their agenda pretty clear in a letter to Calgary agencies: they know that the agencies cannot get any leaner, and expected that savings would be realized by cutting the number of hours of actual service to clients by front-line staff.

Industry insiders whisper that the $13 million is the amount needed to cover an unfunded pension liability for PDD managers. Frontline workers, of course, have no pension benefits.

I think we could save more than a paltry $13 million. We could save about $90 million, by paring the PDD bureaucracy back to the level of the front-line agencies. Heck, we’d be able to save money and improve front-line services at the same time.

There are about 250 agencies, boards and commissions (abc’s) funded by the Province — each of which operates like the PDD boards. Together, they control half of the provincial budget.

If we can repeat this with each of these politically-appointed boards, we’d be out of a deficit in short order. In fact, we never would have had one.

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