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Alberta Politics

alberta politics notes 10/29/2010

It was supposed to be a boring week in Alberta politics. What was billed as a low-key and low-substance return of the Assembly for its fall sitting may still be lacking on substance, but it is not as low-key as most political watchers expected.

More ducks land in tailings lakes
It was only a matter of time before it happened again. Our problem isn’t that the noise cannons failed to stop the ducks from landing in the tailings lake. Our problem is the existence of toxic lakes.

Opposition leader missing on emergency vote
The first day of session saw the NDP call for an emergency debate on emergency room waiting times which failed after Liberal leader David Swann and Lethbridge-East MLA Bridget Pastoor went AWOL. Dr. Swann said it was because no one told him about the vote, yet six of his caucus members were on the Assembly floor to vote for the motion.

The Wizard of Zwoz introduces the Alberta Health Act
Health and Wellness Minister Gene Zwozdesky introduced Bill 17: The Alberta Health Act this afternoon. The Alberta Health Act has been a target of health care advocates since Edmonton-Rutherford PC MLA Fred Horne embarked on a province-wide road trip to “consult” Albertans on the proposed Act. The Edmonton Journal’s Sheila Pratt interviewed many of the people at these meetings, yet none of the criticism she discovered was reported in Mr. Horne’s committee’s final report. Minister Zwozdesky’s introductory speech was quick to target opposition to the Bill, which could open the door to further privatization after the next election.

Liberal Point of Order awaits Alberta Health Act
Minister Zwozdesky probably hoped to impress the opposition with his oratory introduction but it did not take long for Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman was less than impressed. Ms. Blakeman was quick to pounce after the Health Minister’s speech, raising a point of order accusing him of improperly using the time allotted for him during the Bill’s first reading. Speaker Ken Kowalski was not amused. He rarely is these days.

Wildrose fundraises and attracts a familiar face
Speaking in front of a crowd of 800 guests, Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith held her largest fundraiser yet in Calgary this week (the question and answer period was hosted by 630 CHED host Dave Rutherford). The Wildrose Alliance announced the nomination of three more candidates this week. Against the other opposition parties leaders, Shane McAllister will stand in Calgary-Mountainview and Wayde Lever in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood. In the new Calgary-Greenway, 2008 independent/jettisoned PC candidate Ron Leech who will carry the Wildrose banner against rookie PC MLA Manmeet Bhullar. Mr. Bhullar squeaked out a win against Pastor Leech in 2008 when the local PC constituency organization was in disarray following the retirement of long-time MLA Hung Pham. Pastor Leech was originally nominated by the local PC association, but was removed and replaced by the appointed Mr. Bhullar.

Leaky Fawcett to stand in Calgary-Klein
PC backbencher Kyle Fawcett proposed an amendment to the Electoral Boundaries Commission Final Report that would have his constituency of Calgary-North Hill re-named Calgary-Klein in the next provincial election (in honour of former Premier Ralph Klein). Mr. Fawcett (known as “Leaky Fawcett” in some political circles) got his wish. Other new constituency names are Strathcona (which will be known as Strathcona-Sherwood Park) and Calgary-Montrose (which will be known as Calgary-Greenway).

A most amusing piece of legislation
Wetaskiwin-Camrose MLA Verlyn Olsen in Hansard: “Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I request leave to introduce Bill 205, the Scrap Metal Dealers and Recyclers Act. The objective of this bill is to curb the theft of metal in Alberta by providing additional tools for law enforcement.”

Party business
The member of four political parties will be gathering for official party functions over the next month. Starting today, the Progressive Conservative’s will be meeting for their policy convention in Calgary. The NDP will be holding their Annual Convention in Red Deer on November 5, 6, and 7. The Alberta Liberals will be electing a new party President, Vice-President Policy, and Secretary at their Annual General Meeting scheduled for November 27 in Red Deer. The new kid on the political block, the Alberta Party will be holding their policy convention on November 13. Here is a video from their recent Annual General Meeting:

Alberta Party 2010 AGM from Alberta Party on Vimeo.

Read more in the Alberta Politics Notes archive.

7 replies on “alberta politics notes 10/29/2010”

It’s my understanding that only about 50 delegates have signed up for the New Democrats convention this year. Don’t know if that’s a sign of their dwindling membership or just reflective of how few people want to go to a place like Red Deer.

Either way, it should be easy for the DRP or any other group with a particular agenda to overwhelm such a small convention and basically restructure Alberta’s NDP in any way they wish. Find 60 friends to take and you can have yourself a political party.

WRT “toxic lakes”, it seems to me that the existance of these lakes is a consequence of the same mentality that advocated “shoot, shovel, and shut up” as a response to BSE.

There is a complete failure of imagination regarding what to do with the byproducts of production, and a lack of commitment to assume responsibility for them. Perhaps that is now changing; I understand that there is some research underway which proposes a more developed solution than simply dumping byproducts into a “lake”. I believe that it involves reclaiming at least the toxic heavy metals from the “soup”.

It’s true that any processing of the byproducts will incurr costs, but those costs will better reflect the “true” costs of production. The current system treats those byproducts as “externalities”, that is, something that the producers “can’t” (more like, “won’t”) control, and therefore the environmenatal costs are passed on to society generally.

This dynamic is not unique to bitumen extraction processes, many other industrial processes operate under similar assumptions that the cost of “externalities” can be passed on to society generally. This ISN’T about “picking on” one particular industry (although identifying “externalities” seems to be particularly obvious with bitumen extraction), it’s about changing our attitude towards acceptable costs to be borne by society.

I think it’s high time that we, as a society, in our own right and in speaking for future generations as well, insisted that ALL industrial processes and resource extractors assume responsibility for ALL associated costs. That includes not only environmental protection, but also things like resource depletion, water usage, identifiable health costs, etc.

WRT Kyle (aka Leaky Fawcett) having the name of Calgary-North Hill changed to Calgary-Klein, Kyle said that he consulted his constituents’ and they agreed with the name change. Hmm, I am one of his constituents’ and did not hear anything about this. I think he is doing Ralph a disservice as he has opened him up to ridicule as a good majority of us remember that Ralph had a very large hand in our current health care crisis.

Fawcett seems to have forgotten that we are in the midst a heath care crisis, one that was started by Ralph and not repaired when the Province was afloat in money because Ralph admitted that he did not have a plan. Why does he think the people of Calgary want a riding named after Ralph?

Also, what gives him the right to decide on the name? Oops, sorry, I forgot, he thinks the voters in our riding are too stupid to think otherwise why on election night did he tweet, Nenshi, Calgary – Big Mistake (for crying out loud, he was supporting Barb Higgins, talk about a mistake). I am sure he is aware that Nenshi got a lot of votes in our riding. Nice move, he called the voters stupid. This will definitely cost him in the next election.

I think renaming Strathcona to Stratchona-Sherwood Park is a good move. My experience with voters and others including Elections Alberta staff was that there was a lot of confusion about using the name Strathcona for the constituency, especially when there is a tendency among many people to refer to Edmonton-Strathcona as simply Strathcona. I often ended up referring to it as Strathcona County to avoid confusion.

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