Alberta Politics

liberals: tories blowing too much smoke while driving a leaky gravy train through the dark that will derail because of smoke and mirrors.

Raj Sherman Metaphors
The playbook.

The world of opposition politics in Alberta can be an unforgiving place where, in many cases, well-meaning politicians linger until they either give up and leave politics all together or join the long-governing Tories.

In the past, the opposition NDP has typically held the title as masters of media release metaphors (including some odd and obscure metaphors), but a recent media release from the Alberta Liberal Caucus may claim the 2012 summer title. The metaphors packed into this Liberal Caucus media release are almost too much to bear:

Raj Sherman Liberal Party leader Election 2012
Raj Sherman, the metaphorical leader of the Alberta Liberal Party.

Too much smoke blowing from PC gravy train

Edmonton – Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman says the province is doing little more than using smoke and mirrors to clean up the spill from the latest gravy train derailment.

The PC government feigned surprise and concern over the hiring and practices of Merali, brought to light by freedom of information requests, belies the fact he was hand-picked by cabinet in March to be the province’s financial controller.

“Once again, the PCs are blowing smoke at Albertans,” says Sherman. “This is the same premier, minister, and cabinet who, just a few short months ago, offered Merali control over all of the public purse.”

In an effort to mitigate growing public outrage, AHS announced yesterday that Merali will not receive an additional severance package and an outside firm would be hired to conduct an audit of his expenses.

Sherman says the PCs are in damage control mode by cutting out the Auditor General, limiting the review only to Merali’s expenses, and reporting the findings to the minister.

“This just proves the PCs want to control any additional blowback,” says Sherman.

The government has had problems controlling the Auditor General in the past, instead electing to handle similar scandals internally:

– October 2009 Report (p.256) from Alberta’s Auditor General found lack of oversight, poor process, and overpayment for executive termination.

– April 15, 2010 – AHS defends payments to previous Regions’ CEOs and executives as “legacy” agreements—contractual obligations that AHS inherited to which it was bound to comply—and highlights new process for executive contracts.

– November 24, 2010 – In the now infamous “cookie incident”, AHS agreed to a settlement totaling $735,630—including severance, variable pay, and contingent liabilities to Dr. Stephen Duckett.

– August 6, 2012 – AHS board announces no severance for Chief Financial Officer Allaudin Merali and a forensic audit of his expenses. The Auditor General has been asked to review AHS current policies and practices.

“The PCs are content to let the gravy train chug along silently in the dark” says Sherman, “but when a leak comes to light, it’s quickly cleaned and running back on schedule.”

Sherman believes the government is too compromised by its past involvement to handle the issue with any legitimacy. He is calling for a complete Auditor General’s review of AHS and the former Capital Health Region’s finances, with a report directly to the Legislature.

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7 replies on “liberals: tories blowing too much smoke while driving a leaky gravy train through the dark that will derail because of smoke and mirrors.”

Brilliant. We may be in for an entertaining few years.

On the other hand, I am puzzled as to why you would think Salome’s dance to be obscure. Does John the Baptist mean nothing to Catholic school graduates?

I believe that the Dance of the Seven Veils is found, not in scripture, but in the Opera Salome by Richard Strauss, which was based upon an original play by Oscar Wilde. From there, it migrated into the popular imagination, of at least our grandfathers’ imaginations:

With secularism, and the ready access to more stimulating material, the story no longer has the “zing” it once had and has been dropped from the popular imagination.

Matthew 14 gives this account, which does not mention a dance of the seven veils: “But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod so much that he promised on oath to grant her whatever she might ask.”

Youtube has any number of versions of the dance within the context of the Opera. However, the dance of the 7 veils is not featured in the religious curriculum of Catholic schools.

David – I must have not been paying attention when it was covered in Religion class…

There was another NDP media release from 2010 or 2011 that I was looking for last night that used “rose-coloured glasses” and another metaphor in the title or in one of the quotes. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find it.

The opposition may go overboard in their attempts to get our kept media to report their views. But it’s the uselessness of that media that is the real story. CBC’s Charles Rusnell appears to be the only investigative journalist in the province. The rest of the media are simply part of the Tory party-big business-media compact that maintains a particular status quo in the province. The Parkland Institute, the PIA, and the Pembina Institute deserve a lot of credit for the good work that they do on shoestring budgets. But they are invisible to most Albertans.

Let me jump on the bandstand before it pulls out of the station….

Mixed metaphors aside, what I’m perplexed about is the fact that Mr Merali was accepted as the Provincial Controller before he took the job with AHS. That points to a potentially bigger failure on the government’s part… and was only avoided by Mr Merali’s own decision to jump at a more lucrative job that came around later.

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