May I see some ID please?

My jaw is just now beginning to rise after catching this story on the evening news. Isn’t it reassuring to know that our Premier objects to pre-teens working in bars. I wonder where provincial bureaucrats would have gotten the idea that something like this was ok in Alberta.

~Manatee

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Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

How is this for an inconvenient truth? The more the climate changes, the more Alberta politics remains the same.

Last week the Stelmach government unveiled its ‘solution’ to the climate change crisis, bill 3, and was promptly accused of “legislating a trajectory of continued emissions growth” by the Pembina Institute. Today scurrilous Environment Minister Rob Renner, using a page from the Klein government playbook, announced he is taking the show on the road to hear from ordinary Albertans about what the next steps in combating climate change should be. Opposition members called today’s announcement “a delaying tactic” and a “PR exercise”. I call it the most fasionable co-option of Albertan participation in the production of rubbish public policy under democratic pretensions since taxpayers spent half a million bucks to find out that health and education were still a priority.

~Manatee

Ed who?

Well, I’ll be buying that PC membership now. If Morton receives an endorsement from Oberg — or even Norris — I’ll be very nervous indeed.

The one thing that impressed me, though, was Ed Stelmach’s strong showing. With Hancock’s support, he might even be a contender. If he could get Oberg and Norris’ support as well, and if those three could actually deliver two thirds of their voters, Stelmach would be in a position to knock Morton off in the first round of the second ballot. Morton’s supporters would almost certainly go overwhelmingly to Stelmach over Dinning, giving him the votes needed to win.

It’s a longshot with two big ifs, but I wouldn’t be surprised. This race has been described as being driven both anybody-but-Dinning and anybody-but-Morton, and that anybody is now Steady Eddie Stelmach.

~Gnomes

I, for one, welcome our new backroom, corporate overlords

Lest anyone was losing sleep over the news yesterday that Ted Morton was in striking distance of becoming the next King of Alberta, a second poll released today puts the Dauphin, Jim Dinning, back in his comfortable lead, with Morton a distant third.

I have refrained so far from buying a membership, but as Manatee pointed out, their bizarre rules mean that if things aren’t going Dinning’s way Saturday evening for a clear December 2 second-ballot win, I can spend the $5 required to become a member in good standing of the Alberta Tories. If Dinning does secure a comfortable lead tomorrow, I will use the $5 to buy a sandwich. And what a good sandwich that would be…

~Gnomes

Don’t it make my brown eyes blue

I’ve been thinking about jumping on the bandwagon and signing up for an Alberta Tory membership. Everybody’s doing it. If you belong to a union, the first one is even free. From the left, from the right, Alberta Alliance, First Nations, pack up the babies and grab the old ladies. We all know that it’s the only vote that really counts in this province. The new leader of the Alberta Tories is the next premier, and will have a strong chance to set the agenda for the next decade or so. I’d like to have a say in who that is, for as distasteful as the good choices are, the bad are positively horrid.

Alberta CrestSome critics within the party have expressed the view that people who don’t actually, you know, support the Tories in general elections should not be voting for the party leader. I say, if they want to make rules to that effect, go ahead. Even a simple oath of support in the membership application would be enough to turn me off. When the Tories implement reforms to make my vote in general elections count (read: proportional representation), I’ll be delighted to sow my democratic oats that way instead. Until then, it’s open season.

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Defence of reason

Ted MortonI certainly expected no less from Ted Morton than his regressive Bill 208, but I was quite surprised to hear that the federal Conservatives are considering a similar Defence of Religions Act, presumably aimed at keeping their socially conservative supporters and MPs in line by attempting to specifically allow discrimination specifically against same-sex couples.

I dearly hope the title of that act was something salacious cooked up to sell papers over at the G&M, because if that’s the sort of language being tossed around in Ottawa backrooms these days, I will be deeply worried. Defence of religions? Where do they think they are, Battleground Homosexuality? Let’s keep that kind of ignorant hostility on the Internets where it belongs, please. A party in government has no excuse for adopting language which buys into the offensive and wrong characterization of religious persons and gay and lesbian persons as two disctinct, opposing groups. Remember that the first same-sex marriage in Canada took place in a church before a minister. Exactly which religions were the Conservatives planning on defending?

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Gnomes’ new leaf

It occurred to me a few weeks ago that modern political discourse, this blogger’s meagre contributions to it included, rarely transcends empty partisan rhetoric, even by those claiming to be nonpartisan. Full of sound and fury, it signifies nothing. I wasn’t sure why this was the case, why I always assume the worst of those I dislike, why I am driven to elaborate and exaggerate their failings while finding it incredibly difficult to admit their strengths or even to support them in things I agree with. With this epiphany in mind, I sought to find common ground and empathy, even – nay, especially – with those against whom I have been most adamantly set.

Ted MortonAnd then I read the paper. More and more, when one reads about the Alberta PC leadership race, one reads the name “Ted Morton.” Once dismissed as a fringe candidate, his faction is proving itself organized and mobilized, and perhaps, just perhaps, capable of winning. Here is a man with whom I can find no common ground. His message, to me, is nothing but thinly-veiled hatred. Hatred of the rest of Canada, from whom we must isolate ourselves, hatred of our judicial system and the rights it guarantees, and let’s just not get into Bill 208.

In trying to discuss the issue intelligently, I find words fail me. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t write an entire paragraph on the prospect of a Morton win without using the phrase “worst human being ever.” So what can be done? Is there no choice but remaining above the fray or falling into vitriolic argument?

~ Gnomes

Ministry of Truth

I was appalled four years ago to see my provincial government spending tax dollars on a public ad campaign against Kyoto. It is bad enough that our first-past-the-post system causes many people to be effectively unrepresented, but for the party in power to spend public funds to not merely implement but further promote its agenda is a fundamental affront to basic democratic principles. The government is elected to enact the will of the people, not to shape it.

Reading about the recent million-dollar ad campaign planned to promote the now-abandoned Third Way health care reforms, it is clear that state-funded self-promotion has become standard practice for the Alberta Tories. To hear Health Minister Iris Evans defend the ads based on the market research gained during the process adds further insult to injury. Surely, if one wishes to learn what the public are thinking, there are better ways to gauge it than by their reaction to the latest propaganda campaign.

~ Gnomes

The ides of March are come

Suddenly it’s not so good to be the king. While his courtiers denounce the grave injustice and ingratitude of it all, Klein is set to join Jean Chr├ętien and Margaret Thatcher in the ranks of those leaders whose own party prompted an accelerated conclusion to a successful career. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

And what a ridiculous show the Tories are making of it, too. Not by Klein himself, who responded predictably and appropriately, but by his loyal followers. You hear that, Dinning? Loyalty. Look it up! How dare anyone suggest that this man, after all of his great works, be made to suffer such indignity! After all he has done for us!

This is a province, not a pasture, despite the similarity. If Klein’s party is beginning to think that he is done, then he is done. He doesn’t get to mill around for a couple more years on his record, handing out bundles of cash. Yet the notion that the party members are appropriately exercising their democratic rights seems lost amid a sea of lamentations that Klein deserves his throne.

And what should rise from the past but the gaunt spectre of Preston Manning, suddenly making the reign of King Ralph look like it might be the good old days. For those counting, that’s three rounds in the revolver for the game of Russian roulette that is the leadership race.

~ Gnomes