Categories
Alberta Politics

Neil Young, the oil sands and shifting political loyalties in Fort McMurray

Pundits from across the country are waxing and waning over comments made by rock n’ roll icon Neil Young about Canada’s oil sands. Mr. Young’s inarticulate criticisms of the oil sands (and comparing Fort McMurray to Hiroshima) have not helped the discussion around the impact of natural resource development in Canada, but he does deserve some credit for raising awareness about high cancer rates in the northern community of Fort Chipewyan.

Oil is a dirty business. And when it spills it can make a big mess. But natural resources drive our economy and the jobs of most people living in Alberta depend on the natural resource sector, either directly or indirectly. How do we reconcile this?

With plans for increased oil sands development and federal and provincial governments focused on promoting pipeline export, a federal by-election to be called within the next six months could increase national attention on the region.

By-election within six months

Fort McMurray-Athabasca Member of Parliament Brian Jean announced last week that he will resign from parliament on January 17.  After ten years as MP for the region and as a quiet government backbencher in Ottawa, it is easy to understand why Mr. Jean decided it was time to move on.

The departure is expected to draw a crowd for the Conservative Party candidate nomination. While the Tories have dominated in previous elections – winning 73% of the vote in the 2011 federal election – some local political watchers are expecting a strong fight from the Liberals.

Could Justin Trudeau-mania put the Liberals in a position to make gains in northern Alberta’s energy capital?

Top Fort Mac Tory has “crossed the floor” to the Liberals 

A prominent Fort McMurray Conservative announced last week that he was switching allegiances to the federal Liberal Party.

In a note on his Facebook page, Jeffery Cromwell, president of the Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo Progressive Conservatives announced that he has left the Conservative Party of Canada and joined the Liberals. Until recently, Mr. Cromwell was a board member of the local federal Conservative electoral district association.

Jeff Cromwell PC Liberal Fort McMurray
A screenshot from Jeffery Cromwell’s Facebook page.
Categories
Alberta Politics

Fort McMurray MP Brian Jean resigns

Brian Jean
Brian Jean

Fort McMurray-Athabasca Conservative Member of Parliament Brian Jean announced his resignation today in a written statement to the media. Mr. Jean was first elected in 2004. He was re-elected in 2011 with 71.8% of the vote.

His departure will trigger a second federal by-election in Alberta in 2014. In late 2013, Macleod MP Ted Menzies resigned.

In late 2013, Mr. Jean faced ridicule from critics who questioned his decision to include a crossword puzzle about himself in a constituency newsletter.

Here are exerts from Mr. Jean’s resignation letter:

“In every job, there is a right time to move on. For me, that time has come. I’ve spent the past ten years fighting for the priorities of Northern Albertans in Ottawa and now I feel I’m needed more right here at home in Fort McMurray,” says MP Jean. “This decision has not been an easy one and I am extremely grateful to my family, my outstanding staff, and my constituents for their constant support. I would also like to thank Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his leadership and for allowing me the opportunity to publically serve the greatest people and place in Canada.”

“When I was first elected, I made a commitment to my constituents that I would serve seven to ten years and work towards a number of goals including: a strong Canadian economy, the protection of individual rights, the elimination of the long barrel firearms registry, fiscal responsibility of government, and responding to all constituents’ concerns. I’m extremely proud of the work I’ve done for my constituents and for Northern Alberta,” says Jean. “I’m also proud of the accomplishments achieved by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and our Conservative Government, with our success being evident in the strong performance of Canada’s economy over our time in Government. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to be a part of it but look forward to contributing in other ways to making Northern Alberta the best place in which to work, live and raise a family.”

Categories
Alberta Politics

The Brian Jean crossword puzzle

The MP Brian Jean Crossword Puzzle
The MP Brian Jean Crossword Puzzle

How well do you know your Member of Parliament? Fort McMurray-Athabasca Conservative MP Brian Jean takes a unique approach to this question in his latest mail-out to constituents.

Mr. Jean’s latest taxpayer-funded mail-out doesn’t included a crossword puzzle about the bustling community of Fort McMurray, or the wealth of natural resources in the riding, or even what the duties of an MP are. In what I can only suspect was inspired by Oprah Winfrey‘s O Magazine, Mr. Jean’s crossword puzzle is all about Mr. Jean.

Here is a sample of a few questions included in the crossword:

Eight across, four letters: “Brian’s inaugural election year: in Roman numerals.”

Four down, four letters: “Brian’s favourite colour.”

Seven down, three letters:  “How many grandchildren does Brian have”

Twenty down, three letters: “Colour of Brian’s hair”

(Thanks to a reader for passing this image along)