Independent Alberta Senator Paula Simons joins the Daveberta Podcast to discuss what it is like to represent Albertans in the Canadian Senate during the COVID-19 pandemic and the launch of the second season of her podcast series, Alberta Unbound. She also shares her thoughts on the role of the Senate in light of Alberta’s upcoming Senate Nominee elections.
The Daveberta Podcast is a member of the Alberta Podcast Network: Locally grown. Community supported. The Alberta Podcast Network includes dozens of great made-in-Alberta podcasts.
You can listen and subscribe to the Daveberta Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you find podcasts online. We love feedback from our listeners, so let us know what you think of this episode and leave a review where you download.
It’s 9:30 p.m. I’m sitting down in my living room with the intention of writing a piece about what happened in Alberta politics this week. But where the heck do I even start?
I could write about Premier Jason Kenney‘s growing focus on not alienating anti-vaxxers following his recent announcement about the potential distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations in 2021. Or I could write about how Health Minister Tyler Shandro amplified Kenney’s comments that basically amount to protecting anti-vaxxers from a vaccine that could stop a pandemic that has almost ground many part of our society and economy to a halt this year.
I could also write about Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s announcement today that there were more than 1,800 new cases of COVID-19 and 14 new deaths in Alberta. Overworked doctors and nurses also remain concerned that understaffed hospitals could be overwhelmed by the growing number of new COVID-19 cases in Alberta. And Alberta remains the only province without a province-wide mandatory mask mandate.
I could write about how in a radio interview this week, Kenney singled out the South Asian community in northeast Calgary as spreaders of COVID-19. I could also write about City Councillor George Chahal‘s response, tweeting that Kenney “should focus on those knowingly putting our frontline workers and their families at risk by violating public health orders, not the people working the jobs we need to keep our city going during a global pandemic.”
I could try to figure out what in the world Red Deer-South UCP MLA Jason Stephan means when he raised red flags about “socialist decarbonization” during a private members statement in the Legislative Assembly this week. But that might take a series of think-pieces to even attempt to explain.
Now I’m getting tired, so I’ll leave you with these thoughts and a tweet from William Shatner, aka Captain James T. Kirk, about the Alberta government’s stubborn refusal to adopt the federal CovidAlert Tracing app.
Before there were “I love Canadian Oil and Gas” posters in the window of the Premier’s Communications Office at the Alberta Legislature there were “I love Alberta beef” stickers on the bumpers of trucks and cars across Alberta.
Albertans rallied behind the wildly popular ‘I love Alberta Beef’ campaign during the Mad Cow disease outbreak that devastated the industry in the mid-2000s. Albertans flocked to grocery stores and butch shops to buy Alberta beef in support of the ranchers and cattlemen who raise the cattle.
I was reminded of the pro-Alberta beef campaign last week when the Cargill meat-packing plant reopened after weeks of closure after a COVID-19 outbreak. While Alberta’s Conservative politicians can be counted on to jump at the chance to demonstrate their love for Alberta beef, they have done little to show their support for the workers who work in Alberta’s largest meat-packing plants.
The Cargill plant has the dubious distinction of having the largest workplace COVID-19 outbreak in North America, with more than 900 workers infected and more than 500 community infections connected to the factory. Two workers – Hiep Bui and Benito Quesada and one family member of a worker – Armando Sallegue – have died from COVID-19.
Days before the plant was shut down, we are told that workers were reassured by Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw that the factory was safe, despite warnings from the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401, which represents workers at the Cargill factory.
It was revealed last week that Cargill was not complying with Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety laws when the privately-owned American corporation failed to consult with workers at the plant. It was also revealed last month that the government OHS inspections were not conducted in person but over video chat.
The safety and health of workers at Cargill, and the JBS meat packing plant in Brooks, remains an ongoing concern. And workplace safety is especially important as restrictions are set to be lifted and business are expected to open tomorrow as part of the government’s “relaunch.”
Citing concerns about infection rates, compliance with public health orders, and vague guidance provided by the government, the Alberta Federation of Labour is urging the government to delay the staged re-opening of the Alberta economy by at least one month.
“We need to use that time to develop and implement enforceable measures that will keep working Albertans safe as they return to their jobs,” said AFL President Gil McGowan in a press release today.
“If we don’t do more to address the government’s blind spot on workplace health and safety, more people will get infected, more people will die and we’ll increase the likelihood of a second wave of infection that will necessitate a return to economically damaging and social demanding lock-down measures,” McGowan said.
The safety of Albertans returning to work should be paramount. Whether they are nurses, physicians, healthcare workers, grocery store employees or truck drivers who have stayed on the job, or workers returning to their jobs at childcare centres, restaurants and hair salons, they should not only be provided with proper personal protective equipment but should be guaranteed paid sick leave and job protection.
Premier Jason Kenney recently travelled to Fort McMurray to survey damage caused by spring flooding in northern Alberta’s oil capital, but he does not appear to have been spotted anywhere near the COVID-19 infected southern Albertan meat packing plants.
A centrepiece of Kenney’s first year in the Premier’s Officer has been his enthusiastic and aggressive support oil and gas workers, though his deference to Imperial Oil after a similar COVID-19 outbreak at its Kearl Lake work camp puts that into question. Another outbreak was declared today at the Horizon Oil Sands work camp operated by Canadian Natural Resources Limited.
Dreeshen announced financial support for cattle farmers impacted by meat processing delays caused by the COVID-19 outbreak at then plants, but the government has been unwilling to criticize the large meat-packing corporations or workplace conditions that contributed to so many dying and ill workers.
At the very least, the Alberta government should launch a public inquiry chaired by a retired judge who can conduct a fulsome public investigation into what is going on at Alberta’s meat packing plants. Anything less than a full public inquiry could let the corporations and politicians involved off the hook for the decisions they made that impacted workplace safety at Alberta’s meat-packing plants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Albertans have shown their love for and take pride in Alberta beef. Now it’s time to demand our political leaders show their support for the workers who actually package it before we eat it.
You can listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you find podcasts online. We’d love to hear what you think of this episode, so feel free to leave a review where you download, comment on the blog, Facebook or Twitter or send us an email at email@example.com.
Also, it would be a big help if you could leave a review where you download this podcast and share this episode with a friend.
We are always thankful to our hard working producer, Adam Rozenhart, who helps make each episode of the Daveberta Podcast sound so great.
Ryan leads this week’s ‘So you want to be a candidate‘ segment with useful fundraising tips for Albertans wanting to run in next year’s election. And we answer a few great questions from our listeners.
According to reports from Postmedia, when asked about Gay-Straight Alliances, Kenney told the editorial board of the Calgary Herald and Sun that he would allow schools to inform parents if their students join a Gay-Straight Alliance.
Gay-Straight Alliances are student-initiated clubs meant empower students to create safe environments in their own schools. A study from the University of British Columbia found that Canadian schools with GSAs may reduce the odds of suicidal thoughts and attempts among both sexual minority and straight students – which is why having schools track their involvement in these clubs and informing their parents is not just creepy but could be dangerous.
As Postmedia columnist Paula Simons wrote today, ”…why should publicly-funded schools treat GSAs differently than they’d treat any other student-led club? Why, that is, unless deep deep down, we still do believe that it is, in fact, a shameful, dangerous thing to be gay — or to associate with gay friends.”
Now that Kenney has secured the leadership of the PC Party, he is now effectively running for the leadership of the Wildrose Party – which he wants to merge his party into.
Kenney is known for his social conservative views and he shied away from publicly commenting on social issues during the PC leadership race. But now that he is running against Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean for the leadership of a new conservative party, we are beginning to see his open appeal to the party’s social conservative base.
While Kenney’s comments are directed toward social conservative voters he will need to win the leadership of a new conservative party, they are reckless. Allowing schools to “out” students to their parents would undermine the ability of Alberta students to create clubs that are proven to help make school environments more safe and welcoming for some of their classmates.
Crouse drops out of Liberal leadership race, Lukaszuk in?
The only candidate running for the leadership of the Alberta Liberal Party has dropped out two days before the nomination deadline.
St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse announced on his website that he was withdrawing from the race for personal reasons. Crouse’s candidacy would have been a big catch for the Liberal Party, which currently only has one MLA in the Alberta Legislature.
Rumours are swirling that Crouse’s departure could make way for former Tory MLA Thomas Lukaszuk to potentially enter the Liberal Party leadership race before the March 31 deadline. The former deputy premier and 2014 PC leadership candidate publicly trashed his PC Party membership card after Kenney won the party leadership on March 18.
The race is being held to choose a replacement for past leader Raj Sherman, another former Tory MLA who crossed the floor to the Liberals in 2011. He resigned as leader in January 2015.
“We must also ensure that a new, united party will be built on a solid foundation of conservative principles and policy. The left-liberal clique that managed to slowly highjack the PC Party must never again be allowed to seize control of Alberta’s conservative movement.”
Fildebrandt’s manifesto reads like a call to create a rebranded Wildrose Party without the moderates, centrists and liberals who once found a home in the old PC Party. Driving this ideological agenda, Fildebrandt would undoubtably be a prominent leader in the new Conservative Party, one that a province-builder like Peter Lougheed might not even recognize.
Kenney’s hostile takeover of the PC Party appears unstoppable at this time. Along with support from former prime minister Stephen Harper, the Manning Centre, and Wildrose Party members, he appears to have secured a majority in the leadership delegate count.
Kenney’s supporters have succeeded in driving out a number of high profile political moderates from the party.
Former cabinet minister Sandra Jansen quit the leadership race after being harassed and threatened with violence. She later joined the NDP and is expected to be appointed to cabinet sometime this year.
Party president Katherine O’Neill has done an admirable and thankless job trying to lead the PCs through the turbulent period. Under siege from conservative hard-liners and Kenney supporters, O’Neill represents urban, centrist and moderate views that could lead to a PC Party revival. Too bad she is not a candidate for the leadership.
One year and eight months after losing the election, the big blue tent that led the PC Party to 44 years of electoral success has collapsed but not folded. The party was ripe for Kenney’s hostile takeover but any plans to dissolve the party will have to address vendor contracts, party constitutional issues, local and provincial board approvals, legalities around fundraising and bank accounts, and fairly strict legal parameters. Despite his campaign to “unite” the two political parties, it is legally impossible to merge political parties in Alberta.
All this is occurring at the same time as Rachel Notley’s NDP government looks more moderate and centrist by the day. And with pipeline approvals and some projections of a recovering economy, the NDP might be the sensible option on Albertans’ ballots in 2019. But attacks on the NDP, and on Notley personally, will be harsh.
Last week marked six years since Ed Stelmach announced he would step down as Premier of Alberta. Faced with a revolt by right-wing cabinet ministers and the rise of an insurgent Wildrose Party, Stelmach surprised the province at a Jan. 2011 press conference, where he issued a stern warning about the direction and tone of politics in our province, which is shockingly relevant to today:
“There is a profound danger that the next election campaign will focus on personality and US style negative, attack politics that is directed at me personally.
The danger is that it could allow for an extreme right party to disguise itself as a moderate party by focussing on personality – on me personally.
This type of U.S. style wedge politics is coming into Canada, and it comes at our peril.”
The PC leadership race has largely been devoid of any other real issues or policy discussions and focused almost entirely on Kenney’s takeover bid. Starke’s plan was extremely light on details but here’s what we know: he is open to a coalition between the two parties but he would keep the PC and Wildrose parties separate.
It is unclear if this means the two parties would not run candidates against each other, but that might be one way of salvaging the estimated $1.5 million currently sitting in the bank accounts of PC constituency associations that would be forfeit if the party was dissolved into the Wildrose Party.
Today’s announcement was likely aimed at dislodging the significant lead Kenney has secured in the delegate selection meetings, but it feels like a desperate last grasp by Starke.
There had been speculation for months that Jean could avoid a messy leadership challenge by running for Mayor of Wood Buffalo in October 2017 instead of fending off a challenge from Kenney, but this appears to settle it. As leader of the Wildrose Party, Jean has been unofficially campaigning for months to bolster his bid to leader the conservative movement in this province by holding town hall meetings with supporters.
Jean took the reigns of his party from the edge of the political abyss after most Wildrose MLAs crossed the floor to the PC Party in 2014. He led the rural-based party to a swift recovery in the 2015 election but has faced challengeswithin his caucusand party ever since. His party has also been stuck in the mid-30 percent range in public opinion polls over the past year.
It is unclear whether Jean and Kenney would be the only two candidates to run for the leadership of a new Wildrose-dominated conservative party, or whether a third or fourth contender would enter the contest to lead this currently non-existent party.
I was confident that this race would be one of ideas and hope for Alberta’s future and I expected it to be a well-run and principled campaign. Instead, it has devolved into vitriol, anger and division. As such, I can no longer participate in this race in good conscience, nor ask my family, volunteers and supporters to do the same on my behalf.
We have seen the reputation of the PC Party damaged so badly over the course of this campaign that our credibility may be beyond repair.More concerning, we have seen volunteers, organizers, leadership candidates, members of the Board of Directors, our party President and even some PC caucus members harassed and threatened. It is clear that there is no room in this race for competing ideas and we have seen more anger and division in the last 3 months than in the half-century legacy of this party.
As I step down, I know other candidates in this leadership race will carry on the fight. I will remain a proud member and volunteer with the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta. Going forward, I will put my support behind Richard Starke and I would ask my supporters to do the same.
One of the things that has changed over the past ten years is the proliferation of podcasts available on almost any topic. On Karen’s podcast, I recommended a handful of podcasts that I listen to on a weekly basis. Here is an expanded list of podcasts that I would give my seal of approval:
The Expats: This great podcast launched by local bon-vivant Adam Rozenhart features interviews with Canadians expatriates about their experiences living overseas. Their latest episode about the limitations on expat voting is particularity timely ahead of the October 19 federal election.
Radiolab: This podcast is a longtime favourite of mine. Hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, Radiolab focuses on topics of a scientific and philosophical nature. This podcast is a pleasure to listen to.
The Board is committed to establishing and maintaining a safe, inclusive, equitable, and welcoming learning and teaching environment for all members of the school community. This includes those students, staff, and families who identify or are perceived as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit, queer or questioning their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. The Board expects all members of this diverse community to be welcomed, respected, accepted, and supported in every school. – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity policy, Edmonton Public School Board
Speaking as the executive director of the Meadowlark Christian School Foundation in 2011, Ward C candidate Orville Chubb told Edmonton Journal columnist Paula Simons “it’s not that we are anti-gay in any way, shape or form… We just need to be able to articulate the moral element to all Christianity … and our Christian community is not able to accept that homosexual acts are not immoral. If you don’t feel comfortable with your children in that kind of milieu, don’t send your students here.”
The Meadowlark Christian School offers an alternative program within Edmonton Public Schools for “families who wish their children to be educated in the evangelical Christian tradition.”
Responding via email, Mr. Chubb wrote that his comments about being “able to articulate the moral element to all Christianity” was either a misquote or he had misspoken.
“I believe I was speaking to the issue of freedom of speech and Christianity’s view that everything has a moral overlay,” wrote Mr. Chubb. “The balance of the quote was the opinion of the majority of the parents of the school.”
“My position now, as it was then, is that you cannot legislate belief. I am a firm advocate for freedom of speech and conscience,” wrote Mr. Chubb. “I staunchly defend those who are discriminated against in any way.” Mr Chubb also noted that he participated in the committee which implemented the policy.
The current chair of the public school board says she’s proud of the work that the board has done to ensure that all students, staff and families are safe, welcome and respected in every Edmonton Public School.
“We made the decision to move forward with a policy because there is nothing more important to us than ensuring that every school is a place were students feel accepted,” said Ward G trustee Sarah Hoffman. “We have received positive feedback from the community and our accountability pillars show that students are feeling safer in our schools.”
The outgoing trustee for Ward C, Christopher Spencer, was quick to respond to Mr. Chubb’s comment. “On a factual matter, the largest Protestant denomination in Canada supports gay marriage and welcomes gay clergy, so it is incorrect to say that all Christians think that homosexuality is wrong,” said Mr. Spencer.
Mr. Spencer said more ministers and pastors contacted him in support of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity policy than those who were opposed to the policy.
“As for the notion of some sort of gay-free school, segregation in education based on sexual orientation or gender identity seems as awful to me as segregation based on race, and it must not be allowed to happen in a public institution committed to the needs of all children,” said Mr. Spencer.
Mr. Chubb said he will support the current stand-alone policy and regulations but would include the right for a parent to express moral perspectives on any issue, including those informed by a religious perspective.
The strange comedy of errors that has become Edmonton’s Downtown Arena project continued this week as City Council scrambled to fill a $100 million gap in a funding plan they approved months ago.
Despite repeated claims by Mayor Stephen Mandel that provincial government money would fill the $100 million gap, anyone who has paid any attention over the past year will know the province had no plans to provide funding for Edmonton’s Downtown Arena project. Premier Alison Redford, Finance Minister Doug Horner, and Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths have been consistent in their public comments on the topic: “no.”
In response to the lack of never-promised funding in last month’s provincial budget, the Mayor and seven Councillors voted to withdraw a $45 million loan to be paid back through future Municipal Sustainability Initiative funding that the city could receive over the next twenty-years. In response to the decision, Edmonton Journal’s Paula Simons reminded her readers this week, “[t]he clear intent of the original council resolution was that no deal would go ahead without $100 million in new provincial money.”
In a display of common sense against what has become Mayor Mandel’s increasingly embarrassing obsession, five Councillors – Don Iveson, Ben Henderson, Linda Sloan, Kerry Diotte, and Tony Caterina – voted against the motion to dedicate future Municipal Sustainability Initiative funds to the proposed Arena.
Problematic for many reasons, this decision still leaves a $55 million gap in funding and Daryl Katz – the billionaire owner of the Edmonton Oilers – said he is not interested in renegotiating the financial arrangement agreed to months ago. Mayor Mandel claims this loan will convince the provincial to fill a smaller $55 million funding gap – something the province has said it has no interest in doing.
The Municipal Sustainability Initiative was created by Premier Ed Stelmach’s government in 2007 to provide funding to municipalities for public infrastructure projects. Municipalities have discretion over how this provincial money is spent and they have typically been used to fund public transit, libraries, community halls and utility infrastructure. Using these funds to build a new hockey arena to house a privately-owned business like the Edmonton Oilers would use funds that could be used for other much-needed community infrastructure projects.
A concern for City Councillors should be that, like all funding transfers from other levels of government, there is no assurance that the Municipal Sustainability Initiative will exist over the next twenty-years. Its continued existence is based on three factors the City of Edmonton has no control over: population growth, provincial revenue, and the continued desire of provincial politicians to continue the program.
Also problematic for the provincial government is the ongoing is the investigation by Alberta’s Chief Elections Officer into allegations that Mr. Katz violated the Elections Finances Act by donating more than $400,000 to the Progressive Conservative Party in the 2012 provincial election (the individual donation limit is $30,000).
In a last-minute addition to the agenda, councillors were given a top-secret briefing by city administration on negotiations with the Katz Group over a new downtown arena.
When councillors finally emerged from their closed-door meeting, they were grim. Without revealing any details of their private discussions, Bryan Anderson and Kim Krushell, two of the most passionate supporters of the arena project, moved and seconded a motion, written in the sort of code that could only be deciphered by longtime arenaologists.
Here’s the exact wording: “That in response to the Katz Group’s recent request for additional public funding, administration is directed to respond to the Katz Group that City Council remains committed to the negotiated framework approved by City Council on October 26, 2011.”
No more concessions for Daryl Katz and the Oilers. Councillors were united in their new-found resolve. Only Kerry Diotte and Linda Sloan voted against the motion — and that’s only because they thought last October’s deal was too rich. Read more…
Meanwhile, Mr. Katz’s employees, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, are signed up to earn $42-million and $36-million over the next seven and six years playing for the last-place Edmonton Oilers. Mr. Katz’s hockey company may operate in an alternate bizarro universe when signing paycheques, but these types of sky-high salaries make it difficult to feel sympathetic to his company’s plea for more financial concessions by Edmontonians.
This week Edmonton’s City Council is holding hearings and holding a vote to purchase the lands underneath the proposed Katz Group Arena on 104th Avenue north of downtown Edmonton. This vote will take place despite the $100 million which is still missing from the funding formula that has been negotiated by Mayor Stephen Mandel, the City Administration, and billionaire Daryl Katz‘s Katz Group. The current funding formula would have the City of Edmonton fund an approximate $450 million towards the mega-project.
“It’s a terrible deal,” says U of A sports economist Brad Humphreys. “They’re still short $100 million and I don’t see it going very far until they come up with the remainder of the funding.”
What’s more, by allowing Katz to forgo the $100 million upfront funding commitment in return for a 30-year lease at $5.5 million per annum, Humphreys says the city has further softened the financial burden on the Oilers owner.
“I notice in the reporting to date, people are saying Katz is paying $165 million, which is $5.5 million over 30 years. But that’s not right. That calculation ignores the time value of money, which believe me, is coming out of the taxpayers’ pockets.”
The federal government has given no indication that it is interested in entering this kind of financial venture, which has led some arena advocates to look to the provincial government to fill the gap. It is a risky venture for the provincial government to become involved with.
During the Progressive Conservative leadership campaign, now Premier Alison Redford said in a media release that she opposed any government funding for the Edmonton arena, direct or through a dedicated tax.
It has been speculated that provincial funding already allocated through the Municipal Sustainability Initiative could be allocated to the Katz Group Arena, but such a move could come at the cost of much needed public transit and community infrastructure.
Provincial involvement in the proposed Katz Group Arena could also create expectations by other municipalities that the provincial government should fund other professional arena mega-projects. This could be the case especially in the City of Calgary where the aging Scotiabank Saddledome could need be replaced or undergo major renovations in coming years.
Premier Redford has said that she wants the provincial government to deliver a balanced budget by 2013-2014. Diverting $100 million toward the proposed Katz Group Arena to fill a funding gap that was a result of poor negotiations on the part of the City of Edmonton does not exactly send a clear message of fiscal responsibility to Albertans. This would open the Progressive Conservatives to increased attacks by the NDP and Wildrose, who have already taken hardline positions against public dollars supporting the proposed Katz Group Arena.
“I’d rather see that $100 million used to reverse this year’s education cuts, or used for publicly accessible infrastructure like LRT. I’ll put kids before a billionaire team owner any day.”
There is also the possibility that provincial funding for an expensive mega-project like the proposed Katz Group Arena could hurt Edmonton’s chances of securing future funding from the province for legitimate public works projects, such as future LRT expansions. The provincial government is already funding the construction of the Anthony Henday ringroad and is currently undertaking the restoration of the Federal Building, the creation of a new Centennial Plaza at 99 Avenue and 108 Street, and providing funding to expand the LRT.
With the provincial government already pouring funds into these large infrastructure projects in Edmonton, there is the very real possibility that the province will have no interest in becoming financially involved in a mega-project like the proposed Katz Group Arena.
That no other level of government wants to become involved in funding the proposed Katz Group Arena should be a hint to Edmontonians and their City Councillors that they should take a closer look at the “deal” that their Mayor and Administration have negotiated.
If you read one article today, please read Paula Simons well written column on how billionaire Daryl Katz and the Katz Group were able to score major concessions from the City of Edmonton during their campaign to secure public funds to build their new downtown arena.
Simons: Katz Group power play scores major concessions from city
Call it the art of the deal — raised to the level, not of a Donald Trump, but of a Leonardo da Vinci.
Back in April, Edmonton city council agreed that it would only support Daryl Katz’s proposal for a new downtown arena under a long list of very strict circumstances. Among them? The motion required the Katz Group to put up at least $100 million toward the capital cost of the arena. It put a strict $125-million ceiling on the city’s direct cost for building the facility. And it specified that no deal would go ahead until another level or levels of government had somehow made up the remaining $100 million funding shortfall.
There is still no public hint of that magical $100 million, from either the Alison Redford Tories or the Stephen Harper Conservatives.
Yet at a hastily called meeting this past Friday, with three councillors out of town and one on a medical leave, city council voted to buy the land that Katz has optioned for a new arena. (Bryan Anderson, who’s recovering from surgery, missed the vote. So did Ben Henderson, who was stuck on a plane. Karen Leibovici and Linda Sloan were out of the country on holiday, but voted over the phone.) Of those councillors who did vote, only Sloan, Tony Caterina, and Kerry Diotte opposed the purchase.
Read the rest and if your stomach is feeling queasy when you reach the end of the column, phone or email the Mayorand your City Councillor, and tell them how you feel about the decisions they are making by rushing the decision to provide public funds to pay for a downtown arena for Mr. Katz and his company.
A late evening tweet from Progressive Conservative Party President Bill Smith was the first official announcement that Premier Ed Stelmach would formally resign as leader of his party in September 2011. The Premier announced his intentions to resign last week, but did not specify an exact date.
September 2011 is a milestone year for the PCs. On September 10, 1971, Peter Lougheed was sworn in as his party’s first Premier in Alberta and the PC has kept that line partisan-pure ever since. I imagine that party members has mixed feelings about the date. On one hand, forty years of majority governments is an impressive achievement for any political party. On the other hand, it is also risky to draw too much attention to this kind of longevity when a thirst for political change is in the air.
I am sure that many PCs wish their fortieth anniversary as government to be an occasion to celebrate a fresh new face as the leader. Some PC members have started an online campaign to recruit the outspoken 30-something MLA Doug Griffiths, but so far the only candidate to officially announce he is running for that party’s leadership is 61-year old former Finance Minister Ted Morton. Current Deputy Premier Doug Horner, son of Premier Lougheed’s Deputy Premier Hugh Horner, is expected to enter the PC leadership contest in the next few days.
The Tories are not the only party seeking a new leader. With both the Alberta Party and Liberal Party also looking for new leaders in 2011, there is a lot of opportunity for the PCs fortieth anniversary to be much more interesting than anyone could have imagined.