Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Your daily Redford Government screw up

Earlier this evening Infrastructure Minister Jeff Johnson (link now dead*) held a press conference where he announced that the proposed new Royal Alberta Museum in downtown Edmonton was indefinitely put on hold Wednesday after Ottawa pulled $92 million in funding.

Indeed breaking news but there are couple of small problems with what the Minister claimed: First the federal government only promised to commit 30 million to the RAM project, as can be seen here in this Alberta Government press release which reads: "The new museum is expected to cost a total of $340 million. Budget 2011 includes $180 million over the first three years for the project, which includes $30 million previously committed by the Government of Canada." and second, that 30 million dollar commitment has not been pulled. It still stands.

Another day, another screw up.

So what happened?

Paula Simons from the Edmonton Journal had these thoughts: It’s even possible, I suppose, that the Redford government, lacking, perhaps, in enthusiasm for Ed Stelmach’s legacy project, was looking for an excuse to mothball the project, and made federal funding a convenient scapegoat.

No doubt there will be lots more on this tomorrow.

* The dead link was from Alberta Premier Comms which stated that "Infrastructure Minister Danyluk" was holding the press conference even though Danyluk is not actually the Infrastructure Minister, Johnson is. I guess deleting tweets is just part of the change we can expect from this government.That and they don't even know who holds what portfolio within their own government. #fail

Well played Mr. Prime Minister. Well played.

Michael Den Tandt nails it with his latest in the Ottawa Citizen: "Harper proves his political marksmanship."

Here's the not-so-secret weapon underlying the Conservatives' incremental takeover of the mainstream of Canadian politics: they listen.
Not in Ottawa, where the Tories are hard of hearing to most voices but their own - but in the country proper. Through a combination of anecdotal reports from their MPs and relentless polling, the Conservatives appear to listen rather well, indeed.  Read more:

The base is happy. Very happy.

HT BC Blue.

Monday, October 24, 2011

After 40 years in power: This is business as usual in Alberta.

Hot on the heels of Friday's fiasco on transmission lines miscommunications comes news that certain energy firms in Alberta had the jump on everyone, including  PC cabinet ministers who had yet to the approve the deal, on an ethane incentive program worth $350-million.

From the Edmonton Journal: Energy companies learned of potentially lucrative changes to a $350-million incentive program before cabinet ministers approved it, documents obtained by the Alberta Liberals show.
Internal emails reveal that days before cabinet approved the program, aides to then-energy minister Ron Liepert were working with a Williams Energy lobbyist who was already preparing to announce the company's plan to take advantage of the incentives.
The records also show a former vice-president and lobbyist for Nova Chemicals helped redesign the program, aimed at boosting ethane production, which ultimately benefited his one-time employer.

 The timeline reveals a cozy relationship with the ministers office.
In an email dated March 17, Royer wrote to Liepert's executive assistant, Courtney Luimes: "As mentioned last week, Williams is preparing a draft ... for when the announcement is eventually made. You'll see there is a spot in there for a quote from the minister."

The request for a comment from the minister was passed to Liepert's communications director, Jay O'Neill, who is now communications director for Premier Alison Redford.

On March 21, one day before cabinet approved the changes, O'Neill drafted a quote and sent it to Luimes. Luimes responded: "He wants us to use this instead: 'I'm pleased to see that Williams is the first of what I believe will be many companies to benefit from the recent changes to our ethane policy.' " It is not clear from the exchange who "he" is.

The quote appears in the Williams news release, which also notes the company set aside money for the investment back in February - more than a month before the program was announced.

Call me old fashioned, but I like my governments to actually approve programs and the spending of $350-million before staff from a ministers office go around helping private business write their press releases by providing quotes from the minister.The rot is deep.

The documents used by the Journal for their story.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Is incompetent too strong a word?

Another day another flip flop or in this case a "miscommunication" from Alberta's ruling PC government.

Earlier today (approx 10:30am) it was announced a decision by the Alberta Utilities Commission on a controversial power line west of Sherwood Park is on hold after it received a letter from Energy Minister Ted Morton saying the the government was going to review the project. Link.

Big news, and rightly so as this seemed to be a complete reversal for the govt, and it swept across the news wires and twitter for most of the day. That is until Premier Redford announced 4 hours later (approx 2:30pm) that there was a "miscommunication" and that the AUC process on the Heartland transmission project will continue after all.

4 hours to correct a supposed 'miscommunication' on something this big that every major media org in the province was covering since it was announced? 

Something stinks, and it is not that it took 4 hrs to correct something that would have been done in minutes if it indeed had been just a simple miscommunication problem.

For the record here is Mortons letter to the AUC, written 2 days ago, that seems about as clear as it can be in what it says.

So far, and in spite of promises of change, we have had a broken promise on fixed election dates, a fall session which was cancelled one day then rescheduled the next and eventually shortened to 2 days next week and 6 days in November/December, the appointment of what looks more like a Gary Mar cabinet filed with good ol' boys, Gary Mar being appointed as Alberta's trade rep to Asia and being paid a salary greater than that of the premier, and a 'miscommunication' flip flop on power lines in just 4 hours. Meanwhile the smell of pork from 40 years of being in power still wafts through the air.

Is incompetent too strong a word to describe what is going on?

For what it's worth: The Government of Alberta still has this totally wrong information up on its website 1 full day after the heartland fiasco Friday.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Our Media: Move along. Nothing to see here.

 Update: It appears as though the government of Ontario lets anyone run licence plates for a fee. They don't give out address info ( the name and a phone book or google should do that easily enough) but the owners name is given out. As noted on the comments: They should call it the "stalker search" or better yet, the 'need to know the name of that hot blond' you saw driving the other day search.

And so with that I eat my words as there really is nothing to see here other than privacy laws that offer no privacy as long as the government gets their $18 bucks for the search.

Remember how Canadian media went nuts over the 'phone hacking' story that came from the UK?

Where are the multiple stories and live tweets over this?

From today's Toronto Star: "Leung would only give his first name, but the Star was able to find his full name by putting a trace on his licence plate."

"Over the past few weeks, the Star has tracked the makes and plates of dozens of cars in the neighbourhood."

The Star openly admits that it traced dozens of licence plates, which can only be done through Ontario Ministry of Transport computers, and we have almost complete silence from the Canadian media. I guess that phone hacking was much more important for our media to cover, and live tweet, than it is when a home grown media outfit like the Toronto Star uses private information protected under legislation and most likely illegally obtained through Ontario government sources. ( I can't see ANY way that it was done legally.)

If only there was some way to tie Rupert Murdoch to this; then I could guarantee you that our MSM would be all over it.

Update: My tweet to the author of the Star story Antonia Zerbisias:

. @AntoniaZ Who's your licence plate info source? Would be interesting to run some plates from around certain 'clinics'. #oops #cdnpoli

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Alberta PC's: Getting by with a little help from their friends.

With the PCAA being in power in Alberta for the last 40 years; is it any surprise that this type of crap routinely happens?

A top municipal official in St. Paul, Alta., used the city's email system to solicit votes during the Conservative leadership race in a bid to ensure a local MLA remained in cabinet, a CBC News investigation has found.
Ron Boisvert, the town's chief administrative officer, also helped organize a golf tournament in June to raise campaign funds for MLA Ray Danyluk. Boisvert participated in the tournament at the town's expense, along with the mayor and two councillors.

Another town (Cardston) gives the PCAA a sweetheart deal on a golf tournament.

Premier’s Golf Tournament:
Council discussed the request of Pat Shimbashi with the P.C. Party to have the Town of Cardston host their fund raising golf tournament in Cardston on September 15, 2009.Moved by Cou. Bengry to waive the green fees and cart fees for the P.C. Party GolfTournament on September 15, 2009.  Carried

Just business as usual in Quebec Alberta politics.

When nobody at the municipal or even at the provincial level see nothing wrong with this type of thing; it is seriously time for a change.

Update: More Municipal Councillors use taxpayer dollars to attend a PCAA fund raising golf tournament.
May 30, 2008 Battle River - Wainwright Progressive Conservative AssociationGolf Tournament is being held.632 /08 MOVED by Councilor Fossum THAT up to 4 Councilors be allowed to attend the Battle River - Wainwright Progressive Conservative Association golf tournament.

CBC video:

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Alison Redford: Alberta's 14th Premier.

Early this morning Alison Redford was elected leader of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta and will become Alberta's 14th Premier.

I know that this makes at least a couple of federal Liberal candidates very happy, along with an assortment of other loons, but considering the total number of PC party members who voted yesterday is down by a whopping 66,000 voters from the 2006 second ballot vote, I have to wonder how many longtime rank and file PC members are even happy with the result and the PCAA itself.  The funny thing with 'instamembers' is that once they have voted, they don't stick around to do the work needed (at all levels) for a party to be successful.

Congratulations on your win Alison, but considering the dwindling number of party faithful who voted and the fact that 48 PC MLAs endorsed Gary Mar believing that he was better to lead the party than you were, you do have your work cut out for you. ( But not as much as Raj Sherman, you have more Liberal support than he does.)