Jason Kenney Was Just Kidding about Peter Lougheed…really?

In 1999 a young Jason Kenney told the National Post that “Klein realized Alberta could no longer afford the neo-Stalinist make-work projects of the Lougheed and Getty years, and he set about to distance himself from them.”

This is an inflammatory comment of Twilight Zone proportions, particularly given the lengths to which Kenney has gone to tie his image as the saviour of Alberta to that of Peter Lougheed, the founder of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative party.

So how does Kenney justify his horrible comment?

I said what?

Kenney says he doesn’t remember linking Lougheed with the dictator whose repressive policies resulted in the deaths of millions.

 

peter-lougheed-speaking-in-calgary

Peter Lougheed

Well, it was 18 years ago, and Kenney did say a lot of things back then, especially when it came to social issues;  why don’t we give Kenney an opportunity to clarify not just this comment but all the other comments he’s made on the social issues that for some reason he refuses to discuss now.  I’m sure his supporters would welcome a town hall meeting in which he reiterates his stance on abortion (still against it?) and same-sex marriage (still against it?).

It would put their minds at ease and the rest of us would appreciate confirmation that Kenney’s position on social issues is still firmly wedged in the last century.

Oh wait, there’s another wrinkle.

I deny saying something no one says I said

Kenney’s explanation crossed over into the Twilight Zone when he said, “I have never called Peter Lougheed a socialist.  That’s ridiculous.”

Of course it’s ridiculous to call Lougheed a socialist (it’s also ridiculous to call Rachel Notley a socialist but that’s another blog for another day), but this is a red herring.

No one said Kenney called Lougheed a socialist.

Kenney is trying to convince us that we’re wrong to accuse him of saying something we never said he said.  What he hasn’t done is deny that he did say Lougheed, and his successor Don Getty, created “neo-Stalinist make-work projects”.

He said it, he can’t deny it, and he hasn’t denied it because…wait for it…it was a joke.

Can’t you take a joke?

Kenney says he doesn’t remember saying it, but if he did say it, “it was obviously in jest”.

Well of course it’s hilarious to link Peter Lougheed, the premier who introduced Alberta’s first human rights legislation and urged Albertans to “think like owners” and increased their share of non-renewable resource revenue from 17 percent to 40 percent, with a sadistic dictator who was responsible for the Ukrainian Genocide and the Great Terror.

Before you say, now wait a minute Kenney didn’t mean it that way, consider this:  characterizing an offensive comment a joke doesn’t make it okay.

Jason P Steed, a lawyer and former English prof, wrote a dissertation on humour.  It got a lot of airtime when Donald Trump was blasting the airwaves with racist, misogynistic, and homophobic comments during his excruciating presidential campaign.

Steed says no one is ever “just joking”.  People use humour to identify who they are and what they stand for.  Their attempts at humour pull some people into the in-group and push others out into the out-group.  When Trump makes a racist comment and says he’s just joking, he’s defending himself to the out-group, but he doesn’t need to defend himself to the in-group because they accept and support the racist comment.

We have no way of knowing whether Kenney was serious or just kidding (in the Steed sense or in the “wasn’t Stalin a hoot” sense) when he compared Peter Lougheed’s policies to neo-Stalinist make-work projects, but in either case Kenney has limited options to extricate himself from the mess the young Jason Kenney created for the would-be premier Jason Kenney when he made the comment in 1999.

If he meant it; it wasn’t true and he must apologize. If he was joking, that’s even more offensive and he must apologize.

In either case Kenney must stop comparing himself to Peter Lougheed in a pathetic attempt to capture the votes of progressive conservatives.

The only person fit to wear the mantle of Peter Lougheed is Peter Lougheed.

Lougheed wannabes need not apply.

Posted in Politics and Government, Rich and/or Famous | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Who is it going to be: Nenshi or Smith?

This Monday Calgary voters will elect their mayor.

The winner will be expected to lead Calgary out of one of the worst economic downturns it has experienced in decades.  So, who is it going to be:  Naheed Nenshi, the confident qualified candidate or Bill Smith, the congenial but underqualified candidate?

IMG_3663

When Calgarians are asked why they’d choose Smith over Nenshi they say two things:  property taxes are out of control and Nenshi is arrogant.

The first criticism is factually incorrect.  The second is naïve.

Property taxes

Smith says residential property taxes rose by 51% under Nenshi.  He provides no evidence to back this inflammatory allegation.

Nenshi says that from 2011 to 2016 the combined provincial and municipal residential property tax increased by 14.7%, not 51% as Smith claims.  Nenshi has evidence to back it up.

I know math is hard but the first rule in math is “show your work”, so who are you going to trust:  the candidate who makes unfounded allegations or the one who’s willing to demonstrate how he came up with his numbers?

Arrogance?

When Nenshi refuses to fold like a cheap tent he’s called “arrogant”; when a businessman refuses to back down he’s a “strong leader”.

Case in point:  On July 31 the Calgary Flames met with the Mayor and city council to review their respective positions in the negotiations for a new hockey arena.  The meeting got “testy” as the Mayor and Murray Edwards, one of the Flames’ owners, interrupted each other and traded shots.  An observer said they were both “snappy”.

And yet when Nenshi is “snappy” he’s accused of being disrespectful but when Edwards is “snappy” he’s lauded as a shrewd businessman.

It’s time for Calgarians to wake up.  Nenshi is leading a high stakes negotiation with a group of sophisticated businessmen who want tax breaks and sweeteners before they sign on the dotted line.  We need a savvy negotiator not a milquetoast to ensure we don’t give away the farm.

The 5th Best City in the World

We’ve reached that point in the campaign where we need to focus on the big picture: how do we ensure Calgary comes out of the recession even stronger than before?

The Economist ranked Calgary the 5th best city in the world.*  Pause for a moment and let that sink in.

It rated 140 cities on livability by assessing relative comfort across five broad categories:  stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure.

The provincial government gets a share of the credit for Calgary’s high ranking in healthcare and education, however Calgary’s outstanding rating in stability (crime/terrorism), culture and environment, and infrastructure belongs to Calgary alone.

It is worth noting that Calgary maintained its high ranking notwithstanding burgeoning population growth (The Economist says the “big city buzz” can damage livability by increasing crime and overburdening infrastructure) and the lingering effects of the 2013 flood and the 2014 economic recession.

Nenshi’s policies will continue to support livability by investing in stability (community services, police and fire), culture and environment (rec centres, parks and libraries) and infrastructure (the Green Line and BRT).  This will attract business and investment to Calgary.

Smith’s campaign is remarkably light on policy, but the few specifics he has shared would damage Calgary’s livability by suspending planned infrastructure (the Green Line and the BRT) and cutting spending on culture (public art), which will make Calgary a less attractive place to live and work for Calgarians and newcomers.

I went to an advance poll and checked the box for Nenshi, the highly qualified visionary candidate, I hope you’ll do the same.

*The top five cities were Melbourne, Vienna, Toronto, Vancouver.  Calgary tied with Adelaide for 5th place. 

Posted in Politics and Government, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 26 Comments

Common Sense?

No one needs policies anymore.  Everything can be decided by using good ol’ common sense.

what-policy

A group calling itself Common Sense Calgary is telling Calgarians that “the same unions that backed the NDP provincially have now endorsed a slate of candidates to help continue their high-tax, high-spending, high-regulation doctrine at the city level.”  While it’s true that the Calgary and District Labour Council (an organization that’s been around since 1905) issued a flyer recommending certain candidates in the upcoming municipal election, there’s not a shred of evidence to show they did so at the NDP’s behest.

A nameless, faceless organization

Common Sense Calgary is a mystery.

Its website says it’s not affiliated with any party or candidate and it promotes “the values of honesty, transparency, trustworthiness, caring, service, and humility, and the principles of freedom, responsibility, and democratic accountability.”

Sadly, this devotion to honesty, transparency, and democratic accountability do not stretch to disclosing anything about the CSC other than the fact that its executive director, Megan Brown, was a policy advisor to the Wildrose and UCP parties and Linda Carlson, “a passionate advocate for conservative economic principles”, joined CSC’s board of directors (whoever they might be).

For all of its talk about being non-partisan, CSC is clearly against the incumbent mayor and many ward councillors.  It’s Facebook page bristles with shots at “Nenshi and his spend happy voting block [who] were busy hiking property taxes to pay for bike lanes, blue rings, Italian tile in their “Chamber of Secrets.”

The survey

CSC commissioned Pantheon Research to conduct a survey to “find out where the NDP and union candidates are at risk of winning seats, and which candidates are best placed to beat them and keep them out of city hall.”  Cue the red scare/Commie baiting crowd.

Pantheon polled 4887 Calgarians, the margin of error for each ward ranged from 4.6% to 6.1% (the margin of error for national pollsters like Mainstreet and Nanos sits around 3.1%), it provided no margin of error data for the mayoral race although a Facebook post says the margin of error in that poll was 1.4%.

But details like poll methodology and margins of error don’t matter to CSC voters.  They’re more interested in the colour coded charts which not so subtly tell them who to vote for.

Certain candidates are represented by blue bars while others (presumably the so-called NDP and union backed candidates) are represented by orange bars.  Even Naheed Nenshi who is synonymous with the colour purple is represented by an orange bar.

This colour coding works.  One voter lamented on Facebook that the “liberal” candidate (red) and the “NDP” candidate (orange) were leading in their ward.  Provincial parties do not run in municipal elections.     

Using “common sense” to make decisions means voters don’t need to waste time reading a candidate’s policies or thinking about his/her comments in a candidates’ debate.  They can simply default to the candidate identified for them by a faceless organization as the one best aligned with the conservative party’s cause, even in the context of a nonpartisan municipal election.

So, forget the fact that Bill Smith, the former president of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party, wants to scrap the Green Line after 6 years of public consultation and risk losing $3 billion in provincial and federal support, vote blue.

Forget the fact that Chris Davis, the former president of the Calgary-Elbow Progressive Conservative constituency association, who is running in my ward muddies the difference between an operating budget and a capital budget when he disparages the City’s public art process, vote blue.

Most importantly forget the fact that municipal government is the only level of government where party politics aren’t relevant.  The Mayor is elected by Calgarians, not a political party, he has one vote out of 15 and cannot force his will on Council.  He does not have a party whip to smack recalcitrant counsellors upside the head if they vote against his proposals.  Councillors, unlike provincial and federal cabinet ministers, are not appointed by a party leader, they are not beholden to anyone but the people who elected them.

Forget all that.  Don’t think.  Vote blue.

Posted in Politics and Government | Tagged , , , | 23 Comments

How Do We Talk About the Edmonton Terrorist Attack?

A police officer is stabbed and four people are injured when a man drives a U-Haul into a crowd of pedestrians in Edmonton.  The suspect is identified as 30-year-old Abdulahi Sharif.  An ISIS flag is found in the vehicle.

Edmonton’s mayor, Don Iveson, Premier Notley and Prime Minister Trudeau issue statements condemning the attack and asking the public to remain calm while the police continue their investigation.

Right on cue Twitter lights up with comments blaming the attack on the federal, provincial, and/or municipal government and calling on the government to get rid of all Muslims and ban Islam.  Ann Coulter weighs in and one bright light tells the terrorist to contact Justin Trudeau to claim his $10 million windfall.

The urge to respond to such xenophobic rhetoric “in kind” is overwhelming but gets us nowhere.  If ever there was a need for public discourse in a civil society it’s now.

Public discourse  

How do we increase public discourse?

Political philosopher Michael Sandel has some excellent suggestions.*

Step away from distracting provocations:  Some politicians (eg Donald Trump) have a “dark genius” for distracting their followers from their failures with headline grabbing provocations;  we need to recognize these distractions as meaningless and not be dragged down the rabbit hole.

Alberta has its own share of headline grabbing “commie scare” politicians who peddle a picture of a broken Alberta that only they can fix.  It makes for a rousing stump speech but is nothing more than a distraction from the fact such politicians have no real policies other than taking a combative stance vis-à-vis the federal government, other provincial governments, and Albertans who aren’t convinced that the only way to move Alberta forward is to tear it down.

Seek out a compelling alternative and engage in ethical discussions:  It’s easy to slag government policies by saying governments should be run like a business but framing the discussion in free market terms fails to acknowledge that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to monetize ethical and moral issues.

Sandel says policy discussions framed only in free market terms cannot address questions like:  What does a just society look like?  How do we address income inequity or social inequality? Do we have a moral responsibility for each other and if so, how does this responsibility shape our tax policies, our healthcare policies, our environmental policies, and our immigration policies?

From Twitter to Tocqueville

Politicians who refuse to discuss ethical and moral issues because they’re “not relevant” do not deserve the public’s trust.

Why?  Because they’re dumbing down the electorate.  An unthinking electorate responds to dog-whistle authoritarian governments.

People who go on to social media demanding the government incarcerate and/or deport Muslims and ban Islam are telling this and future governments that it’s okay to violate Muslims’ Charter Rights.  Timothy Snyder, in his book On Tyranny says agreeing to forfeit someone’s human rights before the government teaches the government what is possible.

Yelling at these people on Twitter won’t change their minds; but engaging them in public discourse may help them understand what they’re really doing.

Sandel says the ability to reason together, to argue and listen to those with whom we disagree are civic skills–Tocqueville called them “habits of the heart”–that need our full attention free from the distraction of “blinking buzzing devices” that pull our eyes down to that tiny screen.

A terrible thing happened in Edmonton last night.  We owe it to ourselves and each other to try to understand what happened and why it continues to happen by engaging in public discourse, the habits of the heart.

*See Anna Maria Tremonti’s excellent interview with Michael Sandel which aired on CBC’s The Current on Sept 25, 2017  

Posted in Crime and Justice, Politics and Government, Terrorism | Tagged , , , | 23 Comments

The Politicians are Coming…

Paul Keating said, “Politicians come in three varieties:  straight men, fixers and maddies.”

Oh, please let there be a fourth kind of politician–a thoughtful visionary.   

Calgarians go to the polls on Oct 16 to elect a mayor and 14 councillors.  Candidates are out in full force and anyone who cares about the future is button-holing them at every opportunity.

Last week Ms Soapbox attended a Town Hall meeting at the Rosscarrock Community Association.  Only 39 people (!) showed up but the candidates performed as if the place was packed to the rafters.

The Candidates

Four people want to represent Ward 8:  Carter Thomson, who operates One Way Food & Deli, Karla Charest, an IT consultant, Chris Davis, a lawyer who works primarily with developers, and Evan Woolley, the incumbent.

Ms Soapbox wondered whether one of them would turn out to be a thoughtful visionary.

Taxes

Everyone was against tax hikes and reckless spending.

Davis said he’d manage the budget by limiting tax increases to inflation (COLA).  While this sounds good in theory it would have left Calgarians underserviced from 2010 to 2017 when the average annual inflation rate was 1.6% and Calgary’s population grew by about 3% year after year.

Woolley pointed out that the budget was set during the boom in 2014 and increases had dropped significantly since then.  This year’s increase is 1.5% which is less than inflation which sits at 2.39%.

skylinewoolley

Evan Woolley

Woolley was the only candidate to focus on the real issue:  what services do we want and what are we prepared to pay for them?  

A vision for Calgary   

The candidates were asked about their positions on the Flames arena proposal, public art, bike paths, affordable housing and seniors who want to stay in their homes.  The candidates’ answers illustrate their vision (or lack thereof) for Calgary.

Flames arena:  Woolley said Calgarians must benefit from any public spending on the arena and it should be part of a bigger vision for Calgary that would see a sports arena developed along side of condos and businesses.  Davis said Calgarians thought the City’s offer was “a pretty good deal” and the City still had time to negotiate with the Flames.  Charest and Thomson preferred the original NEXT site.

Public art:  This question was triggered by the public uproar over the Bowfort Towers installation next to the TransCanada highway (for those who haven’t see it, it’s a $500,000 structure comprised of four upright steel beams cradling Rundle rock).

Woolley and Davis support public art as a way to make the city attractive to people and corporations but Davis questioned whether too much was being spent on it.

Woolley was comfortable with 1% of taxpayer funded capital projects being set aside for public art, noting that developers could spend 4% of their capital costs on public art in return for bonuses to increase project size and density.

Charest was against public art saying it wasn’t a civic responsibility.  Thomson thought the process for selecting public art was flawed.

Affordable housing:  This was a no brainer.  Everyone agreed Calgary needs to increase its stock of affordable housing and ensure it’s built to the highest safety standards.

Seniors aging in place:  Woolley suggested secondary suites and small condos with shops at street level would allow seniors to remain in their neighbourhoods.  Davis was willing to consider alternatives for seniors.

Bike paths and walkability:  Woolley is an advocate of bike lanes (there are 105 car lanes and only 4 bike lanes).  He said the world is changing and while cars will continue to dominate, young people are looking for alternative modes of transportation including bikes, Uber and Car2Go.  Davis questioned whether spending $15 million on walkability was a wise investment; he’d freeze the development of bike lanes awaiting more information on their usage and costs.  Charest would nix bike paths because “no one wants them” and Thomson said pedestrians and cyclists could share sidewalks if they were widened.

Conclusion

Karla Charest and Carter Thomson deserve credit for throwing their hats in the ring but it’s clear the only competition for Evan Woolley is Chris Davis.

Davis described Calgary as falling short of its potential.  He asked us to send a message to people who think you need a Ph.D to run the city because “ordinary citizens” can do it just fine.  The reference to ordinary citizens is disingenuous coming from a fellow with an LL.B.

Woolley said Calgary is ranked the 5th best city in the world by The Economist. (Woolley says its #1).  He asked the fundamental question we all need to ask:  What kind of city do we want to be?

Davis is focused on the status quo; Woolley is looking to the future.

Evan Woolley is the fourth kind of politician–a thoughtful visionary.  Ward 8 couldn’t ask for anything more.

Posted in Politics and Government | Tagged , , , , , | 28 Comments

Go to Scotland, learn about Canada

Ms Soapbox and her eldest daughter “Missy” just returned from a 10 day trip to Scotland.  We explored Edinburgh (refined and dignified), Glasgow (gritty and boisterous) and the Highlands (majestic and dangerous).

Castle

Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness

Along the way something magical happened.  We learned about Scotland, but we learned even more about Canada.

Cherish your history

The Scottish are understandably proud of their history, having survived invasion after invasion since the first century.  Consequently, we expected our tour of the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh to be heavy on ancient Scottish artifacts and light on everything else.  However, the first exhibit we saw was a magnificent First Nations Thunderbird costume.  Our guide started the tour with the Thunderbird because it was an exceptional object that had been created by one of the oldest cultures on earth.

This reverence for Canada’s First Nations was echoed by exhibits in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow.

It was not lost on Ms Soapbox that the Scottish show more respect for Canada’s First Nations than many Canadians.     

Be honest about your past

Scotland recently recognized its role in the slave trade–Scottish tobacco merchants became incredibly wealthy by participating in the triangle of trade that carried consumer goods and human cargo back and forth between Britain and Europe, the Caribbean and America.

Canada is only now coming to terms with its treatment of First Nations, Metis and Inuit.  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is but a baby step toward addressing the consequences of decades of mistreatment and neglect.

Change is inevitable

Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland.  It was once the centre of the world’s shipbuilding industry, having over 150 shipyards.  After WW2 the industry could no longer compete in a changing market place and Glasgow gradually transformed itself from a dying city to a dynamic one focused on financial services and tourism.

Canada’s dependence on natural resources, particularly oil, will become problematic as the world shifts to renewable energy.   Politicians who insist that the path forward is to go backward have not learned that change is inevitable and it’s better to be prepared than left behind.

The arts

In addition to remarkable architecture, Edinburgh and Glasgow are packed with museums, art galleries, science centres, and public art.  This gives them a vibrancy that attracts tourists and charms the locals despite the gloomy weather.

The Scots cherish their artists, writers, and poets.  The tallest statue in Glasgow’s George Square isn’t a member of royalty, a politician, or an industrialist; it’s the poet and writer Sir Walter Scott.  Scott is credited with softening the harsh view Britain had of Scotland (in Scott’s day Britain outlawed the wearing of tartan and playing bag pipes) by creating an extravaganza to honour King George IV on his first visit to Scotland.  The highlight of Scott’s program was the King dressed in tartan being greeted by a crowd of tartan clad admirers.  That was the end of Britain’s ban on tartan and the start of the tartan fashion fad.

The Scottish admire all forms of art.  The street artist Sam Bates (a.k.a. SMUG) created a spray can mural of St Mungo, Glasgow’s patron saint, on the side of a building.  St Mungo is depicted in contemporary dress and could easily be mistaken for a homeless person.

Since the 1980s the statue of the Duke of Wellington has worn a traffic cone hat.  City staff remove the cone and pranksters put it back.  A few years ago, the City decided to elevate the statue so the pranksters couldn’t replace the cone.  When Glaswegians learned about the plan they signed petitions and staged protests until the City backed down.

Duke

Duke of Wellington with traffic cone hat

Canadians, like the Scots, believe the arts and culture are important, however Albertans are less whimsical and more grumpy about what qualifies as “art” and whether their hard earned tax dollars should be spent (wasted) on it.

Being Canadian

Ms Soapbox and Missy were constantly asked where we were from.  When we said we were Canadians we were greeted with warm smiles and stories about “a certain American president” who doesn’t understand that climate change is real and “bloody Americans” who have a melt down when a tour bus is delayed due to roadworks.

We learned many things.  Scotland and Canada share the same ancient geology (Scotland was a part of Canada before continental drift), and that the reason we can’t understand the people of Cape Breton is because they speak Gaelic, and that John A MacDonald, our first prime minister, and James McGill, the founder of McGill University, were born in Glasgow.

Oh, and they love Clark’s Canadian maple syrup.

****

It’s not every day that the people of a foreign country can show you how to improve your own country while at the same time make you feel good about who you are.

Posted in Vacation | Tagged , , , , | 29 Comments

How Truth Dies

The UCP leadership race just began and already we’re being asked to choose between two conflicting versions of the truth.

Jason Kenney says Brian Jean is a poor financial manager because Jean created a $337,000 deficit in the UCP caucus budget–apparently Jean embarked on a “massive hiring spree” to run a “shadow leadership campaign” at the taxpayers’ expense.

Brian Jean says nonsense, there is no deficit and accuses Kenney of “mud-slinging and innuendo”.

wildrose-leader-brian-jean

Brian Jean

Who do we believe? Either there’s a $337,000 hole in the UCP caucus budget or there isn’t.

The erosion of truth

In his book On Tyranny, Yale professor Timothy Snyder offers an analysis of what happens when the electorate is barraged by competing versions of the truth (aka lies).  

Snyder’s focus is national politics, but his observations are relevant at the sub-national or provincial level too.

Here’s how Snyder’s analysis applies to the erosion of truth in Alberta politics.

Presenting inventions and lies as facts  

Jason Kenney claims that “95 per cent of PC members vote yes to unity”.  His Twitter avatar is a 95% button that proclaims “95% of PC members vote yes to unity.”  He shows up at town hall meetings with charts and graphs stating that 95% blah blah blah unity.

This is not true.  Yes, 95% of the PC members who cast a ballot voted to merge, but only 55% of PC members showed up, 45% stayed at home, therefore the percentage of PC members who voted yes to unity is 52% not 95%.

Bearing in mind Kenney’s loosey goosey understanding of percentages, one should be wary of his claim that Jean created a $337,000 hole in the UCP caucus budget.

But is Jean telling the truth when he says there is no deficit?

Jean argues there’s no deficit because deficits are measured at year-end not three-quarters of the way through the year.  This is only partially true.  Actual spending versus budgeted spending is measured at year-end and at the end of each quarter because smart businessmen want to avoid a nasty surprise at year-end.

The real truth here is math is hard, especially for politicians who torture numbers until they say exactly what they want them to say.

Snyder describes a number of other tactics used by politicians to bend the truth.

Shamanistic incantation

Tyrannical leaders use endless repetition to make fiction plausible (eg Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers) and transform individuals into stereotypes (“Crooked Hillary”).

Both Jean and Kenney are quick to berate Alberta’s “accidental NDP government” (insulting all the voters who intentionally marked the NDP box on their ballots).

They characterize every NDP policy from the royalty review to the curriculum update as “ideologically driven”.  They promise hand over heart to repeal every NDP policy when the UCP forms government.

The repetition of “accidental government” and “ideologically driven” obscures the fact that the royalty review was led by well respected experts and endorsed by the energy sector and a 30 year old curriculum cannot prepare our children for jobs in the 21st century.

kenney-size_-xxlarge-letterbox

Jason Kenney

Albertans trying to decide between Jean or Kenney need to ignore mindless incantations and demand concrete action plans.  Otherwise they’ll end up electing a UCP leader whose chances of success as Alberta’s premier are as likely as Trump building that damn wall.

Magical thinking

It’s impossible to cut taxes, eliminate the debt, and maintain existing social services–unless you’re Brian Jean.

He promises to cut the budget by $2.6 billion by reducing the number of managers in the system.  He’d start with Alberta Health Services (AHS).

The AHS org chart shows one CEO, 13 VPs and 54 people or entities reporting to the VPs.  Assuming Jean fires half the VPs and half their direct reports he’ll save around $4 million.  If a $4 million reduction is the best he can do with a department that’s almost three times larger than the next biggest department it’s difficult to see how he’ll reach his target of $2.6 billion without dipping down into the front lines of education, transportation, seniors, etc.

Kenney promises to restore the Alberta Advantage and put Albertans back to work by cutting taxes on oil companies, restoring coal to its former glory, eliminating the carbon levy, and suing the feds for imposing the federal carbon tax in 2018.

Reducing taxes won’t raise the global oil price or bring back oil companies who’ve left the oil sands in favour of cheaper US shale plays.  Ottawa will phase out coal by 2030 and there are no guarantees that Alberta will win in a law suit against the feds.  So what’s Plan B…never mind, it’s magical thinking.

Misplaced faith

Magical thinking leads to decisions made on faith, not logic.  Snyder says Trump is a prime example, Trump convinced his followers that only he can solve America’s problems (“Believe me”).

Jean and Kenney continue to tell Albertans their lives are ones of quiet desperation.  And only they can fix it by fighting Trudeau to ensure Alberta’s oil gets to foreign markets (the fact that Trudeau has already approved two pipelines is irrelevant).

They describe Alberta as a hapless victim, a wasteland of empty buildings and derelict cars.

They ignore the fact that Alberta is leading the country out of recession.  Factory sales are up 18%, retail sales up 9%, average weekly wages up 1.7%, GDP up 2.9% (and rising) and unemployment down 7.4%.

Given these facts why do Jean and Kenney continue to spout their nonsense?

Snyder puts it like this.  Nationalistic politicians are not interested in the real world.  Their focus is power, victory, defeat and revenge.

Hey, it worked for Trump, it might work for the leader of the UCP.

Sad.

Posted in Alberta Health Care, Economics, Energy & Natural Resources, Politics and Government | Tagged , , , , | 53 Comments