Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ralph Klein 1942-2013

I have been searching for the right words to write to express what the Klein family and Alberta lost yesterday with the passing of Ralph Klein and almost a full day later I still can't come up with anything truly worthy of the man and his legacy. So instead I will link to some of the many wonderful articles written about the man who wanted only to be called Ralph and say thank you for all that he did for this province and say a big thank you to his wife Colleen and the Klein family for sharing him with us. You were one of a kind Ralph and you will be missed.

Gunter: We lost a great Albertan.

The Globe and Mail: Canadians remember Ralph Klein as tributes pour in.

Sun: Ralph Klein was one of us.

Corbella: Just call him Ralph, the peoples premier.

Thompson: Impossible not to like Ralph Klein.

Calgary Herald: We loved him.

Stockwell Day: Ralph Klein was genuine, kept his word.

Calgary Sun: Remembering Ralph

Colby Cosh: The deceptive shape of a shadow.

and a couple that pay tribute to the man and note just how far off track Alberta has gone since Ralph retired in 2006. 

Flanagan: Deficit and debt fighters of today should learn from Ralph Klein.

Braid: Klein's debt fighting legacy at risk.


Rest in peace Ralph, Alberta missed you even before you were gone.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Alberta Budget 2013. A few thoughts.

  1. Render obscure, unclear, or unintelligible.
  2. Bewilder (someone).
It has been 3 days since the Alberta Budget was handed down and I still can't figure out what the actual numbers are. But that wasn't a mistake, that was the intention of the Redford budget 2013-14 and I am clearly not alone in that belief.

Graham Thompson called it "arguably the most opaque, obscure and cynical budget yet delivered in Alberta."

Don Braid wrote: "translating this one (budget) is like trying to decipher the Inca alphabet (clue: they didn’t have one.)"

and Derek Fildebrandt from the Canadian Tax Payer Federation tweeted: "I have never seen an attempt to obscure facts and numbers from the public as blatant and serious as this."  (perhaps this is why they tried to keep him out of the lockup)

It is a mess. Nobody can peg an actual deficit and having Doug Horner unsure about the meaning of the word deficit and a Premier who is actually claiming that we don't have a deficit is clouding the matter even more for the average Albertan trying to get a handle on what the hell happened.

The bottom line is as Horner says “we’re in a deficit.”  including an almost $500 million dollar operating debt of which Redford promised just 4 months ago "We will continue to ensure that our operating budget is balanced." and we will be $17 billion in debt by the year 2016. That is if you assume their numbers are correct and the PC track record has not been good in that regard and now Redford has had to break almost every election promise that she made not even 1 year ago.

Oh and fair warning to those that are not happy with Premier Redford about this because apparently if you were one of those who believed Redford's promises of a balanced budget and no debt, that she used to win the election, prepare to be called names and mocked if you believed her or if you believe in such extreme ideologies as honesty or fiscal responsibility for now and the future.

With a fiscal record so bad and now with a trail of broken promises it is easy to see why Redford and the PCs have attempted to obfuscate with their budget to throw the public off the reality of the situation but unlike other years they really had no choice this time; their hand was forced as there is no longer an easy way to hide their incompetence . No longer can the PCs rely on the Sustainability Fund to cover for their fiscal incompetence as they did 5 previous times running deficit budgets; the PCs drained the once near $18 billion dollar fund to almost zero and the jig is up.  Oddly enough that Sustainability Fund which has covered the PCs for the last 7 years was started by Ralph Klein, that same Ralph Klein that progressive conservatives including Redford herself have been slamming lately for being fiscally irresponsible by balancing our books and getting us out of debt and of course giving us that PC butt saving Sustainability Fund.

While I am on Ralph here is one of the laws his gov't wrote and was law in Alberta until the PCs rescinded it in 2008:  "actual expense for a fiscal year shall not exceed actual revenue for that year." 

A far cry from what is in Redford's 2013-14 budget, or at least I think so. It is so hard to tell.

So as we await the start of week 1 of the budget showdown in the legislature, I look forward to not only the great debate but also finding out what heck that thing actually said and what it means to Alberta.

BTW the often politicized Provincial Affairs Bureau, the ones that spin for the government and now on a regular basis flat out attack other political parties for partisan purposes, got an increase in funding.  They may claim otherwise because of the creative bookkeeping trick of rolling 2 budget 2012-13 line items together, killing one of them but using that inflated total to claim that there was actually a cut this year, but the truth is the PCs taxpayer funded propaganda arm is this year getting nearly 17 million dollars to spin you when last year they were given a budget of 15 million

So if your local hospital or school has been delayed or if you have already been told that there is no money to give you a wage increase this year, take heart that the PCs consider you so important that they are spending even more money this year to tell you just how good that they and their policies are.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Politicizing Flanagan.The Alberta Edition.

One would expect that the Liberals and the usual crowd of Harper haters would try to politicize Professor Flanagan's comments on child porn for partisan reasons but would you expect so called conservatives to do the same?

Well welcome to Alberta where some conservatives in the PC party have done exactly that and it is making them look silly in the process.

First up Justice Minister Jonathan Denis who on the Rutherford Show today, or as the Alberta Government likes to refer to it; "Wildrose radio", had this to say:  

"Interesting comments from the Wildrose today, hey". ( Note how Denis changes the topic and instigates the smear) I also think the Wildrose has some explaining to do because you know, if you go back, he has been publicly described as a mentor, trusted confident, tenured close personal friend, guided Miss Smith's entire political career ( reading from talking points or just a great memory for old quotes?); I think this goes to more of the core of the party than she would let on."  

There is no way to call this other than what it is; a blatant and calculated attempt to smear an entire political party because of its association to an individual. An utterly ridiculous assertion  made even more pathetic because it was made by someone who also has an association with the same individual. Yes it is true, the same person that Denis used for his smear attempt is the same one with which he coauthored an op-ed piece in the Ottawa Citizen withHypocrisy thy name is Jonathan Denis

Since we are on the topic of campaign managers Susan Elliot, the PC campaign chair in the last election and who has a previous history of attacking conservatives, decided to also get into the act by tweeting this smear nonsense:

"Did Danielle know before the 2012 election when she hired Flanagan? 2009 story: #ableg #pcaa #abpoli"
Yes, because everyone knew about Flanagan's 2009 comments before today, which is why we heard the PCs use them against the WRP during the election. Oh wait, we didn't see the PC's use those comments did we. (and you know we would have had they in fact known about them) So in other words Elliot is 'upset' that the WRP didn't know about comments that neither the PC party, their operatives or her had any idea had existed before today. Seems logical to me. Not.    More like just another example of how the PC's will say and do anything to stay in power.

There of course were others as well. My friend Stefan Baranski had to get his smear attempts in and the ableg Twitter feed was awash sock puppet accounts with 2-10 followers as well as some of the usual WRP haters who were busy smearing away. Including a certain attention seeking one who gave a textbook example of smear (and possibly libel), blamed someone else, was proven wrong, played the hurt bunny routine rather than admit she was wrong, and even though she claims to be against hate, bullying, lowering the political discourse etc etc went straight into the gutter   (you know, all the stuff she claims to be against) in an attempt to smear someone else. As the kids say on the Twitter it was an #epicfail.

Typical and expected from this crowd of haters but from conservatives who will be crying next week about how the Wildrose are bottom feeders and are lowering the political discourse in Alberta, not so much. 

But that is now how 'conservatives' in Redford's PC party like to operate.