Friday, April 20, 2012

On that Globe and Mail endorsement....

The Globe and Mail editorial board endorses Redford and The Albertaardvark editorial board calls bullshit.

Not on the endorsement itself because they can do what ever they like, on the BS that they use to justify it. It reads like someone in Toronto read a PC campaign pamphlet and wrote this up, with no idea of the reality on the ground in Alberta. As a blogger I would be embarrassed to post this kind if drivel and here is so much wrong that I don't know where to start; but instead of trying I might as well do little fisking since it's been awhile.

Globe and Mail italicized in blue
Ardvark editorial board comments in black

After four decades in power, their traditional base fractured by defections on the right, Alberta’s governing Progressive Conservatives suddenly find themselves underdogs in Monday’s election, trailing the Wildrose Party. There is a mood for change in Alberta. The question is, which party best represents change: The upstart Wildrose under leader Danielle Smith, with its populist brand of conservatism? Or, odd as it may sound, the Conservatives under Premier Alison Redford?

Yes, there is mood for change in Alberta but is not just change for changes sake, which in itself is never a bad thing with any government in power for long periods of time, it is because the PC's have been a bad government and their record has been terrible, including the disastrous 6 months under Redford. Redford isn't change, or at least real change.They are just as inept and secretive as they have always been and one has to look no further than the Gary Mar situation or how she handled the no-meet committee situation.

The answer is surprising. As a change agent, Wildrose is remarkably change-averse.

Yes, a party less than 5 years old with a fresh vibrant leader and new ideas is not change. Got it. Thanks G&M.

The party shows no leadership with regard to Alberta’s critical oil-sands industry. Its main policy document barely mentions the oil sands (and then only to complain about public funding for two “anti-oil-sands documentaries”). Ms. Redford, by contrast, is more positive; her Canadian Energy Strategy would facilitate the shipment of oil-sands oil to Asia, the U.S. and Central Canada; she also promises to help fund oil-sands extraction technology. 

For the record the Wildrose green policy book has 10 pages dealing with energy/resources while the PC's has 2, but that is a side issue; this is Alberta. Energy is tied into almost everything that we do here in one way or another, to claim the Wildrose has no ideas or has shown no leadership on this issue is asinine. As for Redford's NEP lite, getting our oil to other markets is not exactly a new idea and her promise to fund that technology comes at a cost of 3 billion dollars that was not in her 2012 budget.

In health care, the Conservatives are also more constructive and imaginative. They promise 140 family care clinics, where not only doctors, but nurses can provide services, an innovation that will relieve the pressure on emergency wards. They also talk about “fast-track” emergency rooms, where obvious ailments will be diverted for quick treatment. In response, Wildrose promises wait-time guarantees, failing which the procedures will be done out of province or in private facilities – sort of a hangman’s approach to health care. 

After reading this paragraph it was clear that the Globe and Mail had no clue as to what is going on out here if they are using the clinics and 'fast track' promises as a selling point for Redford. The clinic idea was announced by Redford last month BEFORE the election call and was only to be 3 clinics in a pilot project to see how the idea would work. Fast forward 1 month later and before any of the 3 opened their doors or could have possibly be evaluated, it has morphed into 140 and will radically alter health care in this province in spite of a direct promise from Redford to follow "all 21 recommendations" of the HQCA. BTW the main recommendation was:  'that the government undertake no further major re-structuring of the health-care system without a clear rationale, a transition plan and consultation'; which is just one reason why the Alberta Medical Association is against Redford's 140 clinics. You would think that the Globe and Mail might just mention that Alberta's doctors are against this but why ruin an agenda with silly facts like this or that Alberta has not only a doctor shortage but a nursing one as well, so who is going to staff these 140 clinics, or how much will they come up with the 700 million that these would cost? I am aware that the PC's claim that they will cost us nothing as they will reallocate existing health care money to the clinics but that leaves out the big question as to what they will cut in order to find that 700 million. As for the fast track idea, well that was written off almost as soon as it was announced because it is essentially what our hospitals are already doing. That days biggest joke was that Redford invented 'triage' but it really is no laughing matter as the head of emergency medicine said of Redford fast track plan "so out of touch it's startling"

Clearly, these policies do not account for the surge in Wildrose support. This is a party that failed to elect a single MLA in the 2008 election. Now, polls suggest it will form the next government. So what, then, is behind its rise? 

In 2008 Albertans were foolish enough to believe the PC's and the change from within that they promised would occur with that fresh new leader Ed Stelmach. It is the same promise again from the PC's with Redford but this time Albertans are not buying it. BTW which Wildrose polices is the G&M referring to? If mentioned they were glossed over or dismissed outright yet the G&M "Clearly" claim that they could not possibly account for the raise in support. It is a cheap blogger trick and should be beneath the G&M but yet clearly wasn't.

Some of it may relate to its adoption of “Alberta first” or “firewall” rhetoric. Despite Alberta’s enormous, and growing, economic might in Canada, and its considerable political influence nationally – with a Conservative government led by a Calgary MP – Wildrose has still found fertile ground with the insular little Alberta narrative.

 I guess endorsing Redford also means that the G&M also gets to use the PC fear mongering too; "firewall"? There is no firewall mentioned ANYWHERE in any Wildrose policy, that is the same stuff that the Liberals and Toronto media have been trotting out for years to scare people about PM Harper. Stay classy G&M. If looking at the feasibility of a provincial pension plan or police force is a firewall, which is where this smear came from, than I think the G&M had better look a lot closer to home because both Ontario and Quebec have their own provincial police force, and Quebec it own pension plan.   How 'insular" is that?

But Wildrose’s growth began, not coincidentally, when the province was hit hard by falling energy prices in 2008-9. Government spending had jumped, public sector pay greatly outpacing the rest of the country. Then, the Alberta government saw a projected $8.5-billion surplus evaporate, and instead posted a $1.4-billion deficit. The government responded to the recession by joining the worldwide consensus in favour of stimulative spending. 

The timing may be correct for the start of the, 2008-09 but they fail to mention the numerous other issues that many people had at that time with the government Ed Stelmach, oil royalties, the 30% pay raise, land use laws, and a gov't that appeared to run out of ideas.

The Conservative record on fiscal policy, then, is the central issue in the current campaign. 

Thanks Toronto for telling Alberta what the "central" issue of the campaign "is" and get it completely wrong. How did Alberta ever make it this far without you. Oh and I would say it is the incompetence, arrogance and abandonment of anything remotely conservative by the present government that is the issue; fiscal policy is part of that but hardly the 'central issue'.

Wildrose has been campaigning with a “debt clock” and has launched fierce rhetorical attacks over Conservative “mismanagement.” Its leader, Ms. Smith, is an effective communicator and a fresh face, but there’s little fresh in Wildrose’s response on fiscal policy; many of its ideas come from the halcyon era of King Ralph. In the 1990s, Progressive Conservative premier Ralph Klein was a leader among Canada’s first ministers in deficit reduction. His government introduced balanced budget legislation in 1995. By 2004, he was able to announce that Alberta was “debt-free” and, awash with energy royalties, his government awarded Albertans a $400 “prosperity bonus” (popularly known as “Ralph bucks”). 

Imagine that, Albertans happy with a government that does not spend more money than it has. Pure insanity! (you have to remember the G&M is from Ontario and the concept is totally foreign to them out there. They did did endorse McGuinty after all) Also notice how they mention that Ralph passed balanced budget legislation but fail to mention how Stelmach, with Redford in his cabinet, rescinded that law?

For its part, Wildrose promises to restore the balanced budget legislation, and – yes – to pay Albertans energy dividends, now called “Dani dollars.” The party projects these payments as totalling $12,000 for an Alberta family of four over the next eight years. As for Alison Redford, she has been the Premier for only six months, but is answerable for one budget, which saw nearly every ministry receive increases; health-care spending went up by 7 per cent. More restraint should have been shown. 

They get something correct, more restraint should have been shown but this gov't cannot seem to cut anything, ever.

Even with such increases, defended as necessary in a province that leads the country in population growth, the Conservative budget still projects Alberta’s deficit will be eliminated in 2013-14, with a $5.2-billion surplus in 2014-15. This will be achieved without any new taxes, or even any user fee increases. Instead, Alberta will accomplish it from an expanding tax base through population increases and resource royalties expected to nearly double from 2011-15.

 We lead in per capita spending, even with that population growth, but do not lead in results/value for money. We have heard the deficit promises before and the reality is that the PC's have not lived up to them. The Stelmach gov't promised that we would ALREADY be out of deficit and "back in the black before the Redford budget was even written, and the promise of a 400 million surplus by next year has been blown out of the water with Redford's 7 billion dollars in un-budgeted election spending promises. As for the numerous claims about no tax increases, that has also proven to be nothing but a lie as the education portion of our property taxes has already been increased

The Conservatives have signalled their intent to save more, not just by replenishing the rainy day Sustainability Fund that was used to maintain Alberta’s debt-free status, but possibly also to build up the Heritage Fund. As a TD analysis of the budget put it, “having to make a choice between saving for tomorrow or spending today is a challenge that other provinces in Canada could only dream of.”
Wildrose’s message of change, then, is concerned less with what Alberta can be, than with what Alberta was. It is a political response to a fiscal dilemma that has all the trappings of a failure of confidence. Canada needs Alberta to step up, not step back. The Conservatives have ruled for a very long time, but they have a new leader and are the party that speaks for the best kind of change. It is time for a big Alberta on the national stage. 

Yes Redford did more than signal an intent to put more money into those funds she made a promise. A forgotten one because if she was to put the promised 4-5 billion dollars/year into the Heritage and Sustainability funds, how would a 5 billion dollar surplus be possible in 2014-15 as she has also promised? It can't be both, unless you are the G&M and then anything Redford says is gospel even if reality says otherwise. The next part of this paragraph again goes into the big bag of PC rhetoric and pulls out the loaded terms 'can be' vs 'was', 'step up' or 'step back' as if there really was a time machine that could take us back. The reality is there is ONLY the future and if that future is a choice between the fiscal responsibility of Klein vs the incompetence of a McGuinty (who the Globe and Mail also endorsed) than I think the majority of people would go with Klein way.  BTW the WIldrose promises not only balanced budgets and also contributing to both the sustainability and Heritage Trust funds but also a surplus as well. More inconvenient truths left out of the Globe and Mail fluff piece endorsement of the tired PC government and Redford. 

It is clear that the Globe and Mail are not the biggest fans of the Wildrose, in fact they were forced to change 2 very misleading headlines ( which they did without ever acknowledging the changes or their bias error), and  I get that coming from a Toronto paper, but shouldn't Canada's so called "paper of record" at least make the effort to provide its readers with the facts rather than just crib from the PC Alberta website? I know as a blogger I would be embarrassed to publish this void of reality nonsense.


Candace said...

Well said!

Frances said...

Actually, one of the three 'pilot' clinics has already caused the closure of a nearby 'private' clinic that was providing similar services. Net gain to that community: nil. Net loss to the rest of us: the extra cost of the bureaucracy to run the new clinic according to government standards.