Monday, October 24, 2016

Conservative leadership race gets crowded

 #cpc #cpcldr #cdnpoli

Numerous candidates have recently declared and frankly, I've never heard of many of them and don't expect them to make much waves. What they're doing is building some sort of name recognition within the party to eventually be considered for a shadow cabinet post, if they don't have one already. Lisa Raitt stepped down in her portfolio to look at making a run.

Here's the stack of candidates:

What you've seen so far are candidates mostly making waves with attention-grabbing controversial policy statements (see Kellie Leitch). She made the cover of Macleans.  She's fundraising well.

Meanwhile, Michael Chong is playing the steady long-game and Maxime Bernier is nearly full out with a pure libertarian plan that is drawing some attention but hard to sell to centrists.

I saw Erin O'Toole on CTV Power Play the other day and he was okay.  Just okay.  Don't see him as PM, but as a cabinet minister, sure why not.

Look at the internet interest of the candidates for the past 90 days in Canada (in chunks of 5 as per above list):

For Michael Chong, Maxime Bernier, Kellie Leith, Deepak Obrhai, Andrew Scheer:
Kellie Leitch dominates interest overall but Maxime Bernier dominates in Quebec.

For Brad Trost, Steven Blaney, Erin O'Toole, Dan Lindsay, Chris Alexander:
Brad Trost dominates overall but Steven Blaney dominates interest in Quebec.

For Rick Peterson, Pierre Lemieux, Andrew Saxton, Adrienne Snow, and Lisa Raitt:
Lisa Raitt dominates overall with Pierre Lemieux grabbing more attention in Quebec.

What does this all mean for leadership candidates?

  1. If you want to grab attention, it may only last a couple days, so you need to keep the momentum going.  And in our now Twitter-dominated social media politics, you need to be relentless in your frequency.
  2. Start with your base and build from there.  It's no surprise there's competition in Quebec to attract disaffected soft Bloc supporters and their harsher stances on divisive issues.  Steven Blaney declared his candidacy and has come out wanting to ban the Niqab.
  3. Get on TV.  People need to see and hear you.

All that said, I tire of this Twitteresque/140 character attention sound bite crap and prefer discussing policies that actually affect our families, i.e. economy, taxes, jobs, health care, and education.  Being that health care and education are provincial responsibility (supposed to be), economics, jobs, trade, and justice are what I think most Canadians care about federally, not the endless divisive debates on what people wear or national unity.  Just look at the U.S. Presidential Election. It's sad how it has played out. I don't want Canada to have crappy campaigns like that where issues and ideas are subservient to crash statements that divide.  The U.S. wasn't this divided since the Civil Rights Movement and Civil War.

With that, my advice to all the candidates is to talk economy and taxes and don't waiver from breaking down and presenting what your plan would do in cost savings to average families.  Should you be bold about it?  Absolutely.  Why not?!  Let the naysayers take the debate to you.


For me, the only candidate doing that right now is Maxime Bernier.  If he can maintain momentum and build beyond Quebec, he has a shot at winning.

I see the eventual front-runners to be:

Michael Chong -- who I think has the most growth potential and ability to syphon off disaffected liberals

Maxime Bernier -- he'll get the base of libertarians for sure, if he hasn't already, but growth potential is limited unless he can convince liberals that libertarian and liberal are supposed to be the same thing. Unfortunately, his English speaking ability may turn off harder Western folks who'll need some selling on that his policies line-up

Kellie Leitch -- because she's been controversial and is doing well in fundraising. Can she build her base beyond that controversy?

Lisa Raitt -- she could win it. She's moderate, relentless, smart, but her French will need work.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Conservative leadership "a yawnfest"

 #cpc #cdnpoli -
The Calgary Stampede is one of those mandatory events for politicians at all levels to don cowboy gear and swoon party-goers with pancakes and parties.  What I find odd is the poor timing of a local Calgary candidate Deepak Obhrai to enter the race when Stampede came to a close.  Or Tony Clement, who's no stranger to the circuit, announced then as well.  You'd think they'd take advantage of this top silly summer event to create some excitement and momentum.

As I follow all the candidates on social media, the only one who made any real posting poise was Maxime Bernier.

In general, was there any real excitement about this leadership race?  Because I gotta tell ya, I'm not really feeling it.  I'm getting emails, mostly from Bernier.  No phone calls yet (I'm pretty sure I'm on some old lists.)

A big thing is that the media isn't into this race.  There's no buzz. All the other new names touted, I have never heard of.

Nik Nanos has an article similar to what I've been saying about this.

I believe the folks who've entered this race are simply positioning themselves for a top cabinet position in the government of the next person who leads the party and wins many years from now.  There's no shame in that.  It's a good, but expensive, way to keep a high profile.

It seems only natural that Peter Mackay should lead the party though, and him not doing so is causing a heightened build of tension.  He was leader of the PCs prior to the big merger and if any can read the mood of voters, it's him.  And the mood is a plurality if not majority of Canadians are still on a bit of a honeymoon with Trudeau--giving him the benefit of the doubt.

But when the dust settles, he'll release that tension at the right time.

And right now, that right time is still after the next election.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Does Stephen Harper's endorsement of Jason Kenney make a difference?

 #abpoli #cpc #pcaa

The timing was impeccable. Right in the middle of the Calgary Stampede, at a Conservative event, Stephen Harper endorsed Jason Kenney in his bid to lead the Alberta PCs to merge with the Wildrose Party.  Watch here.

There is no doubt now that the federal Conservatives are and have been actively involved in getting the two parties to merge, as was done federally 13 years ago.

Let's set something straight though--and it's in plain sight.  The Alberta PCs and their federal cousins in the Conservative Party are different.  The Alberta PCs have changed with more emphasis on the "Progressive" moniker in the last 10 years than compared to the more "Conservative" Klein-era.

Let's look at the history, otherwise, we are sure doomed to repeat it.

The PCs elected two leaders that were inside cabinet ministers of a more liberal-bent.  "Steady" Ed Stelmach, who then led the party to a huge victory, was internally dumped for Alison Redford, who also won a comeback victory, but was also internally dumped, but this time for former federal PC leadership candidate and federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice

Prentice, who insiders were hoping would successfully pull Wildrose supporters over, concocted a sneaky backroom deal involving Wildrose MLAs and even the leader Danielle Smith over to the PCs.  But Albertan conservatives didn't like it one bit.

The Wildrose under newbie Brian Jean made a surprising surge in a riding-focused campaign, and the PCs saw their first defeat in 42 years.  Methinks the dumpings weren't smart moves by the old party machine.  And it backfired.  The NDP, of all parties, won.

What's the lesson there?

We then learned that former Reform leader Preston Manning was involved in brokering this deal.  He then later apologized saying it should have been brought to the grassroots.  Of all people, he should know this.  That said, the creation of the Canadian Alliance was only to rid the tarnished Reform name to make it more palatable to Ontario PCs and then the federal PCs to successfully merge the parties.

But let's not forget that the federal Conservatives were successfully led by a former Reform Party MP and many of the Western MPs were from the Reform and Canadian Alliance parties.

They included one Jason Kenney.

Kenney was a Reform MP from back in the mid-90's and part of the "Snack Pack"--the young fresh group of Reform MPs from Alberta including Kenney, Rob Anders, and Rahim Jaffer.  One survived.

As one of my friends in the Alberta PCs keeps reminding me, "provincial politics is not federal politics" and the more I think of it, the more he's spot on.

The Wildrosers are the true cousins of the federal Conservatives, not the Progressive Conservatives. Wildrose leader Brian Jean is a former Conservative MP, where there are numerous Alberta PCs that voted for Trudeau's Liberals.  Why the federal Conservatives believe they can change and influence the Alberta PCs, can only be done through brute-force infiltration, otherwise, again, it will backfire.

It's also why the Reform Party was created in the first place. As the Mulroney PCs ignored the West and vamped up federal spending and taxes, after 12 some-odd years of Pierre Trudeau's disastrous economic policies, Mulroney offered a big change.  It didn't happen. Westerners were mad.

I've also read that provincial party mergers in Alberta law works much differently than federally in that the party with the most money envelopes the "smaller" one.  I've also read that the use of the name Conservative Party of Alberta is a tricky one too.   I'm sure someone will find a legal way around this though.  These may be just stumbling blocks placed there by folks in the PCs who don't want a merger to happen.

Anyway, with Harper's endorsement of Kenney, will it make any difference to the Alberta PCs?

In all honestly, I don't think it changes the minds of those who already have doubt--i.e. the Progressives and Red Tories in the PCs.  They see this as interference and hostile.

But what it does do, is possibly strengthen the Conservatives in the PCs and Wildrose to lay down their arms and join them together if they can see that it could work.

Whether Kenney can convince a majority of the 30 delegates from each riding to do so is another matter.

If this seemingly hostile takeover does happen, and progressives are unable to stop it, it is the best opportunity for the liberalesque Alberta Party and its leader Greg Clark to gain traction from PC defectors.

And it's likely exactly what Kenney and Co. want to happen.

In the immortal words of the first PC Premier of Alberta, Peter Lougheed, "A liberal is a liberal is a liberal."

And it's going to take the progressive liberals to leave the PCs to make it conservative again.

Friday, July 08, 2016

"The nagging nabobs of negativity" - Jason Kenney enters PC race

 #abpoli #cpc #pcaa
With a leak a couple weeks ago, it was no surprise that federal Reform/Canadian Alliance/Conservative MP and former star cabinet minister Jason Kenney announced his leadership for the Alberta PCs.

So far, he's the only person who has declared and has the advantage up until October to fundraise galore.

In getting a lay of the land from friends in the PCs and Wildrose, the stalwart conservatives are happy about Kenney entering the race to "Unite Alberta", while the more liberal/progressive folks either aren't excited or are worried that he might actually win.

With the Trudeau Liberals in place in Ottawa, you'd think this would be a chance for Alberta Liberals to finally come together instead of spinning off to the Alberta Party startup.  But as many know, and that I calculated when Alison Redford won for the PCs, the PCs have had much support from long-time Liberals themselves.

Would Jason Kenney becoming leader of the PCs mark the right time for liberals in the party to go back to their homeland?

Sandra Jansen seems to think so... well, at least not be in the same caucus as Kenney.

Would Jason Kenney becoming leader of the PCs mark the right time for Wildrose folks to rejoin the PCs?

Yes and no.  There will be numerous Wildrose folks who want the parties to merge and especially those involved in the Alberta Prosperity Fund to join Kenney's journey to re-unite conservatives.

But there are still many Wildrosers who want nothing to do with the PCs and believe their leader Brian Jean has a shot at winning in 2019.  With Kenney as leader of the PCs, you'd have two former federal Conservatives as leaders of Alberta conservative parties.

Can you say, vote split?
Can you say, hello, four more years of NDP?

There isn't much time left.  The PC leadership convention is next year.  Whoever wins, will need to work hard to convince the membership that merging to create the Conservative Party of Alberta is the only opportunity forward to ensure the NDP do not continue as government for another four years.  Conversely, the Wildrose membership will need to do the same.

And Kenney has words for those who don't think uniting is the best route.

"The nagging nabobs of negativity".

So there's that, you know.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Brexit aftermath, the future of the UK and the world

 I'm a proponent of allowing the people to determine their destiny, however, the irony of Brits choosing to go it alone again rather than be ruled over by an overarching governing body is hypocritically historically hysterical.  If anyone is an expert at conquering, well, look no further.

Right after the referendum vote results, the British Pound took a major hit now at 1.7 of the Canadian dollar putting it near par with the Euro itself.  It has been reported that over £350bn has also exited the economy in one fell swoop.  Thousands of bankers and financiers are reported to be moving to Frankfurt.

These are often predictable effects of injecting uncertainty into the economy, but you can be sure that there are many George Soros' out there who sold short on the game and are even richer than before. Often, these very financiers are financing the outcome and betting on it.

Will the UK recover from this economically?  Yes, but only if it's own overarching nanny state style of government gets out of the way and let's its economy build and grow from private market forces, not controlled by central planning bureaucrats from Brussels, or providing corporate welfare to industries needing a boost to compete.

The EU model, determining which countries get what industries, is nearly the same as saying where all the immigrants should work and live, is it not?   Are we all trying to mimic China's model to compete with them or are we better than that?

When the UK joined the EU, it was smart for them to keep the Pound and it still is now.  It's the one of the strongest currencies, if not the strongest, and it's value will return to what it was if not higher as bankers buy up a pile of it in the next days and tourism picks up even more for Canucks like us who thoroughly enjoy visiting our original mother country.

Having been to England, Rome, New York, Toronto and many other cities, what is apparent is thinking that immigration has ruined the core culture is nonsense.  London is quite British.  Rome is quite Italian.  I didn't get the sense that the culture was lost, if not enhanced.  Celebrating diversity strengthens a country.  Going to any Canada Day event will prove that fact.

While after joining the EU, the UK saw unprecedented immigration.  It's flattering, is it not, when groups of people want to be a part of your country?  Although leaving the EU doesn't make the UK any less diverse, it sends a message that perhaps enough is enough for now.  The same angst and xenophobia is highlighted in the Donald Trump presidential campaign and he's exploiting those very bursting intolerable generational cleavages for support.  On the other side of the coin, the social-democrat Bernie Sanders campaign is filled with Millennials and Gen-Xers who protest against the corporate influence on government, while only wanting more government influence of their own lives through free health care and free tuition, among a grocery list of other entitlements, but equally demand a lowering or eliminating of military funding, corporate bail-outs, and such.

I believe that people want freedom and to live and raise their families in a healthy economy that has good jobs and a nice work-life balance with a social support system that is there for those that truly need it.  Few I know celebrate when costs increase or taxes go up on good, income or small business, or they don't get a deserved raise in salary--no matter what the culture is.

On a 'crownly' note, even the Queen essentially gave Canada its independence in 1982 not having to sign any more bills sent to her and we adopted her as our own Queen of Canada.  I'm wondering if she is preferring this Brexit arrangement to her reign in the rain.  I would think so.  It's hers.

The graphs show that as the older the voter got, the more likely they were to vote to leave while at the same time, won't be around as long to see what happens.  There's irony there too.  The UK Baby Boomers who are now retired saw the 20 year or so EU experiment fail in their eyes as more immigration occurred, while economic powerhouses like the UK and Germany were found having to bail out poorer nations, at the same time as their own predatory bankers and racketeers played havoc on Greek and Italian Baby Boomer costly entitlement pension schemes.

Steady UK PM David Cameron took a risk and lost this one, and now he's Primexiting in October.  His party caucus will look to find a uniter to right the ship and may actually find more success as the UK insulates and puffs up its chest--more seemingly conservative than not.

What's more interesting is the calls for Ireland to unify into one whole island country and for Scotland to have another Braveheart vote for freedom only to have them to want to join the EU.  I'm still trying to make sense of that one, but the Scots have a socialist/labour tendency, yet methinks its more of an ongoing historical protest vote against Westminster than economic ideology.

It's hypocritical to be for free trade, free enterprise, and freedom from government regulation, freedom from government-backed corporate monopolies, freedom from predatory lending, freedom from human exploitation, but not embrace freer immigration, more cultural and sexual diversity, and the rainbow array of different goods and services that come with all of it opening new markets.

The same goes the other way too.

Now, what I'm about to say is likely out of the bound of normal political discourse, and some may think, "Hatrock, you're crazy."  So be it, but the historical facts are there.  We are not taught in school nor does the mainstream media feed much of economic history to us.  But as citizens, we must be aware and know how private and central banks work.  One doesn't have to look much harder than the 2008/9 financial crisis to see what happened and how it exposed the supposed stable economic system that western nations dominated by the U.S. and U.K. is not based on straight-forward nomenclatures.  It's not socialist and mostly run by government, nor is it capitalistic mostly run by banks and corporations.  It's the inverted perversion of that whereby governments and central banks favour the private banks and big corporations through laws and regulation, bail-outs, and those interests influence the politicians through donations and vote support.  We all know this though.

The "system" that the world operates has been clinched down by bankers, big corporate interests, the military industrial complex and their political puppets for over 200 years, were strengthened by world wars and smaller wars as well, and will continue to do so unless the system is overhauled by a near but unlikely global revolution (sorry Anonymous and Wikileaks).  The very corporate oligarchical interests that many protesting socialists and anarchists rile against are given special treatment by the very anti-capitalistic political systems they support.

Many asked 20 years ago.  After the EU, then what?  What is it that the world political systems are "progressing" toward?  Does the EU then become part of another umbrella political body?  Is that body ultimately the highly corrupt UN itself?  A UN that brokers IMF deals with African warlords?  An IMF that is funded by central banks like the Federal Reserve cartel that prints bank notes and floods the economy with constant monetary inflation.

Meanwhile lower and middle class folk struggle to get ahead with menial wages behind inflation. While government supports supply management of farm sectors increasing prices for basic food, and housing supply costs force mass mortgages for predatory lenders, at the same time, the government increases taxes on everything, including on taxes themselves, as they grow their own bureaucracies and administrations powered by public union fat cats who only have their own private interests at heart.  It's no wonder household debt is higher than ever.  Who wins?  Banks gaining interest payments and governments gaining higher tax revenue to solve problems they and their corporate friends create.

Why would a small businesses want to be swallowed up by a big corporation?

Why would a family want higher costs, taxes, and interest payments or having government tell them how they should raise their kids?

Why would British folks want to stay in the EU then?

Why would Scottish, Irish, or Welsh folks want to stay in the UK?

Maybe people are just sick and tired of being ruled over.

And choosing freedom over control.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Uniting the "right" in Alberta

. #cdnpoli #abpoli #wrp #pcaa

With the rumblings that former Harper gov't minister and current CPC opposition MP Jason Kenney deciding to announce whether he's making the jump to run for the Alberta PC leadership in order to forge the merger between the Wildrose and PCs, I will tell you this based on history, which is known to repeat itself.

Kenney is already doomed.

He likely doesn't see himself winning the CPC leadership and if he won, Trudeau would beat him anyway, so he might as well get his leadership fix in Alberta where there is a big vacuum.

No candidate from any party who has advocated for merging with another party has actually won the leadership.  In some cases, the opposite is true.

When Stephen Harper won the Canadian Alliance leadership, he forged ahead saying, "The Canadian Alliance is strong and the Canadian Alliance is here to stay."  I know, I was there at the Edmonton convention doing stage security for him when he said it.  PC MP Peter MacKay was milling about that convention. Of course, Harper's declaration was true when Joe Clark was leader of the PCs.  When Clark stepped down, Peter MacKay won the job at the delegated convention with a napkin promise to David Orchard that he wouldn't merge the PCs with the Alliance.  Soon after, the 90% of PC delegates voted to merge and in 2003, the Conservative Party was born, Harper then ran for the leadership and won and the rest is history up until last year.

In Alberta, after decades of not righting a wrong, the PCAA has also now smartly moved back to a delegated convention.  With the vote in one year, Kenney needed to have already quietly integrated his minions into many riding associations.  If he starts now, that's barely enough time. Then again, a day is a lifetime in politics and I don't think any of the other folks thinking of running for the leadership of the PCAA are that well organized either.

That said, when federal parties get involved in provincial circles, it's an awkward situation, especially here in Alberta when the CPC has so many political cousins in both the Wildrose and PCs.

It would seem natural and logical that those involved in the Alberta Prosperity Fund who want to merge the two parties would learn from their history and simply follow what the federal PCs and Canadian Alliance did 14 years ago.  (Wow, has it been that long?)

This takes a willingness from those at the top to have a third-party broker a deal for an agreement of an initial set of common policies besides "beat the NDP at all costs" between the leadership of both parties over a few days.

I don't know what the rules are on naming a provincial party, but it would also seem logical that this merged party obviously be called "The Conservative Party of Alberta".

Then, the leadership would need to go back to its membership and vote on this deal, then have a new leadership race.

And that's the difference here with thinking you can have a saviour come in and bring it all together.  The PCs just tried to do this with Jim Prentice and that ended up being an epic failure--even when he lured over Wildrose leader Danielle Smith and a pile of that caucus.

You can't tie a merger deal with the personality of a candidate and the people don't give a rats ass which MLAs have flipped/crossed the floor.  Remember the DRC?

Give the members the decision to merge the parties based on a common policy set and worry about personalities in a leadership race afterward.

And I just had a thought who might win that leadership.

He did it federally.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Alberta Wildrose Wildfire

 #abpoli #wrp :
 During the terrible Alberta/Ft. McMurray wildfires, Wildrose leader and MLA for the area, Brian Jean, stood out among the party leaders. As he faced the loss of his own home, opting to sleep he and his family in a tent rather than take up indoor space for other evacuees, his photos and video interviews were telling of a man who has faced so much sadness while remaining humble to lead.

His and the party approval rating understandingly shot up.

While the two conservative parties are about as far apart on merging as it can get, and with his uptick, Jean then welcomed all conservatives to the Wildrose and would even consider changing the name of the party. (I always thought party names like Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance, Alberta Alliance, Wildrose Alliance, and Wildrose were conjured up without much thought from a tiny committee and will always remain temporary names.)

Meanwhile, on the PC side, no one we know has yet to declare their intention to run for the leadership. It's a dark vacuum there.  It's as if no one wants to touch that tainted soup.  All the PCs have going for them is their feisty interim leader Ric McIver who went rightly toe-to-toe with the house speaker, and getting tossed.


For the Wildrose caucus, enter attack dog MLA Derek Fildebrandt, who for his seemingly innocent Facebook reply to a supporter somehow failed to read the poster's comment about Ontario Premier Wynne, coupled with his heckle in the house to "bring [Saskatchewan Premier] Brad Wall here" during Wynne's visit to the Alberta Legislature.  So Jean tosses him from caucus ... Fildebrandt apologizes... then not too long later, he welcomes him back.


9 Wildrose MLAs retweet a release associating the NDP carbon tax to Holodymor, the Great Ukrainian Famine of the 1930's under Stalin suggesting that Ukrainian farmers at the time didn't have the incentive to produce under the socialist regime.  Bullocks.  What a terrible argument.  Godwin would be proud. Being that my grandfather luckily left Ukraine in 1926, we just don't see the connection here.  They of course apologized.


Not a single Wildrose MLA made it out to a Pride Parade because they were too tired.  I think many of us are tired of this still being an issue.


While all that support for Brian Jean and the Wildrose increased during and after the horrific wildfires, it was soon quashed by a lack of prudence and tact among his very own caucus members.

And people wonder why party leaders need to reign in their members more and control messaging.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Harper still tops among Conservatives

 #cdnpoli #cpc

An EKOS poll has Conservatives still picking Harper over the others.  Either members haven't moved on or they are setting a bar for the other candidates to live up to.

One would certainly hope that the next leader would be even better than Harper, let alone Prime Minister Trudeau.

In the poll, what bothers me is the other potential candidates that are missing, particularly Michael Chong and Michelle Rempel although over 1/3 of respondents didn't want to pick any of the given names.

28% Stephen Harper
23% Peter MacKay
17% Kevin O’Leary
17% Other
5% Lisa Raitt
5% Don't Know/No Response
4% Maxime Bernier
2% Kellie Leitch

So even if that 17% Other was split among Chong and Rempel, they'd still be above Raitt, Bernier, and Leitch.  With MacKay likely not entering this race, and O'Leary having a political ceiling, whomever this "Other" is, can take it.

In this sense, with one year to go, this EKOS poll is simply telling us that it's anyone's race, few see it's worth entering, it's wide open, and no one really cares right now.

I'll maintain that history dictates that whoever wins, won't be prime minister--which gives meaning to the leadership race following the next election.  That's when you'll see candidates like Peter MacKay and Rona Ambrose entering, knowing they now have a legitimate chance at actually becoming prime minister.  For Rona, she will be able to stand on her well-remembered time as the current interim leader, and she full-well knows she's currently gaining experience, building knowledge, and creating a national campaign network and future war chest to run for Conservative leader in 2021.

The risk, however, is if the leader elected in May 2017 becomes well-liked and runs a smooth campaign in 2019 to not only build on 99 seats, but in the four years following, becomes a palatable official opposition leader in order to be accepted as a credible prime minister, especially in a minority government.  If that leader loses the 2023 election, then you have to jump up to nine years from now for the next opportunity.

But one thing we do know in Canadian politics, to become prime minister, you need to have deep roots politically.

For Ambrose and MacKay, those roots go way back, even from now.

Friday, April 15, 2016

NDP Budget Alberta-style

With oil revenue dropping from $9 billion to just over $1 billion, no government, no ideology, no party, especially one that hasn't even been in power for a year would be able to quell out of the dire deficit situation.

The things I liked in this budget are the small business tax cut from 3% to 2%. Let's admit there's at least that.

Let's also admit that the problem with this budget stems from the colossal expense of health care, which is well over half the budget and will continue to rise as the bulk of the population ages.

With that, there needs to be a fundamental change in the way health care is delivered and funded, otherwise, the big baby boomers now retiring will eat away at the future of their children and grandchildren.  That said, it's already happening.

Over twenty years ago, if you read the book "Boom, Bust, and Echo", you'll know that the baby boomers made up a bulk of the population and during their time of highest income earning, they still paid much less in taxes than their children do now at that same time of earning, but they spent and built up our corporate and government social bureaucracy to a point of non-sustainability into future generations.

The plan under the Lougheed PCs in the 70's was to not depend on natural resource revenue for operations and infrastructure, but to make the Heritage Savings Trust so big, the gov't could use the interest to pay for the very things that recent PC and now NDP governments were trying to save.

We all know that the Klein government of the 90's slashed and burned to get to zero, but left the province with horrible infrastructure and a health system that appeared to be beyond the point of repair.  Coupled with front-line worker wage cuts to teachers and nurses, in the long-run that policy didn't really get us anywhere.  I maintain that paying teachers and nurses more salary isn't going to destroy our society or budget for that matter.

But the PCs under Stelmach and Redford didn't fair any better and continued to spend spend spend, with little real improvement.

Come on, people, look more closely.  The Alberta health system bureaucracy is massive.  They have spent a lot on technology yet still do not run as efficient as they could.  Top bureaucrat wages and benefits are insane.  The number of full time lawyers that work for Health alone eats up millions.

Don't buy into the B.S. that there aren't areas in the government where efficiencies and common sense can't be found.

Why can Germany offer free health care at 10% of the cost per capita?

Yes, terrible oil prices are certainly having an effect on Alberta, but federally as well, with tax revenues down across the board.

And so here we are.  Massive budget deficits, and a carbon tax on fuel that won't do anything to quell carbon output which won't do anything to quell global warming.

The answer isn't to raise taxes on the very middle class that are trying to create jobs and raise families in good communities.  Once you raise taxes on fuel, the costs of everything go up because everything depends on transportation--you know, like FOOD, SHELTER, and CLOTHING.  And a few hundred in subsidies aren't going to equal this out with lower income folks.  They will still pay more over a year, not just in fuel, but on everything.

In the longer term, the government will realize that their carbon tax policy will have an overall net negative effect on the economy.

But in four years, they won't be around to see it anyway.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Canadian political update - NDP Leap, Trudeau pipelines, CPC Race, and more!

There's so much going on it's difficult to clear away the mud.

The NDP party had their convention just down the street from me and there were big splashes made by the members.

1.  Adoption of the Leap Manifesto, which wants to move Canada from carbon-based energy toward alternatives

2.  The sacking of Tom Mulcair as leader

I believe the two go hand-in-hand.  There was an obvious concerted effort to move the NDP back to the left from where Angry Friendly Tom took them toward the bigger centre during the last federal election, although that's not really why they lost.  The Leap Manifesto which is the brain-child of author Naomi Klein, and Stephen Lewis' son, Avi "calls for an overhaul of the capitalist economy to wean the country quickly off fossil fuels. Among other things, it calls for no new pipelines, which Notley told delegates are crucial to revive Alberta’s resource-based economy." (source).

So here we have an NDP party in Alberta that moved to the middle with populist anti-PC policies and won big time and now a premier who is defending the need to build pipelines as they realize resource and corporate tax revenue from this industry "ARE CRUCIAL" to building the economy, providing jobs, and spending on social programs like, you know, free health care.

Of course, we knew this all along.

But by "we", I don't mean the federal NDP members who voted for this manifesto.

So with this huge rift in probably the most major policy direction a party can decide on, Alberta, including the NDP here (or maybe just the premier and finance minister) are isolated from most of the country once again.

Why did Tom lose but Rachel won?

Back on the point why Tom lost and Rachel won.  Despite there being similar disdain for the status quo between the Alberta PCs and Harper's CPC, and despite both Tom and Rachel taking their party campaign promises toward the mushy-middle, there are two points that differ:

1.  In Alberta, the usual middle occupied by the Liberals and also the Alberta Party were no where near to a capable political threat to anyone, allowing the NDP to grab centrist voters.  Where federally, the strong Trudeau Liberal campaign engulfed the increasing vacuum from the left (see next point), and tired blue liberals who'd been voting Harper instead of Ignatieff and Dion previously.

2.  The Notley NDP campaign was flawless, where the Mulcair campaign was flawed and it bled support to Trudeau.

With debate zingers from Notley to Prentice like "math is hard", that feisty Albertan character is well liked by all.

Federally, the NDP war room was non-existent and eventually took a beating from both sides without response.  There were no feisty zingers from Tom, just awkward smiles.  Thomas (as he was formally known) Mulcair became NDP leader because of his Quebec pedigree, his respect as a tactful parliamentarian, and because of his angry moniker.   At his core though, Tom is a Charest Liberal, not a socialist and even Dippers know it.  

Many early soft NDP supporters were hoping Tom would continue to ride the coattails of the lovable, late, great Jack Layton, who, EQUALLY took the party toward the promise-land of the policy centre, but Tom's campaign didn't seem genuine, nor was it effective, unlike Jack's triumph to Official Opposition for first time in party history.

In this sense, Rachel successfully pulled from the Book of Layton and won huge, whereas Tom didn't execute and the NDP were reduced back to where they traditionally were known for--third party socialists.

Because of that, it left the door open for the actual socialists (or anti-capitalists as they like to negatively call themselves sometimes) to retake the party, which they did last weekend in Edmonton of all places.

Weak NDP = Conservatives remain in opposition

For Conservatives, this just sucks.  Having a stronger NDP ensured competition with the Liberals in order for CPC candidates to "shoot up the middle" in a pile of ridings to take the crown.  And because of that, this will further ensure the reestablishment of the long-standing Liberal hegemony as the seemingly most successful political party in the history of democracy.

And further to that, prime minister Justin Trudeau, in true Liberal form, is successfully playing both sides on this great debate.  Sustainable environment populist selfies on one-hand, and back room handshakes on Energy East pipelines on the other.  Politically, it's a novel, diplomatic approach, but time will tell if it plays out successfully, or if it continues to be bashed back and forth like a shuttlecock.

Conservative Leadership Race

Now moving from the centre to the right, the Conservative leadership "race" got an injection of libertarianism with the expected announcement from former cabinet minister and current Quebec MP Maxime Bernier that he's seeking the leadership.

Meanwhile, more popular candidates like former PC leader and CPC justice/defense minister Peter Mackay and Trump-Canada's Kevin O'Leary continue to remain in the mainstream spotlight, while Calgary MP Michelle Rempel continues her social media journey in the wilderness gaining interest with her Calgary-ghost town jobs fair.

All that said, very very few folks I know are talking about the CPC race, likely because their immediate attention and desperation is on Notley and Trudeau to make nice and let Energy East happen...

not on great leap backward rainbow manifestos.