Fifteen Bucks an Hour

The government is gradually increasing Alberta’s minimum wage from $10.20 in Oct 2015 and to a cap of $15/hour in Oct 2018.  Fifteen bucks an hour.  This increase is not going to land anyone in the lap of luxury–$15/hour is $3.14/hour below the living wage for Calgary which currently sits at $18.15—and yet some Albertans are fighting the increase.

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Why?

It’s unnecessary and bad for the economy  

Critics oppose the increase because:

  • It’s wasted on the kids: Not so.  Only 30% of the Albertans working for less than $15/hour are teenagers, almost 50% of the people earning less than the new minimum wage are married adults, 40% of them have kids of their own.
  • Workers can make up the difference in tips: This assumes two things: (1) it’s okay to eke out a living dependent on the kindness of strangers and the tipping protocols of restaurant owners and (2) the majority of minimum wage jobs are in the food industry.  In fact, only 20% of the minimum wage jobs are in food services.  The remaining 80% are in sales (wholesale and retail), care providers, educational, legal, and public protection support, education and paraprofessional occupations, natural resources, agriculture, and transportation and heavy equipment operation and maintenance.  When was the last time you tipped the lawn guy?
  • The increase will damage the economy: This complaint is usually accompanied by an n=1 story of a restaurant owner who’s cut staff in anticipation of a yet-to-be-implemented increase.  It ignores the fact that only 6.4% of Alberta’s work force earn less than $15/hour and creates the impression that paying these employees an additional $1.40/hour will materially impact Alberta’s economy which is simply not true.
  • Boosting the minimum wage means all wages will increase: This is correct to some degree, but guess what, earning a living wage is not a bad thing.  In fact, it will prevent what Robert Kuttner describes as a “collective loss of purchasing power [that keeps] the entire system in a downward economy spiral and a slow-growth trap.”

The “cost of doing business” mindset   

Conservatives often argue that the cure for all that ails us is the dignity of hard work.  It’s time for them to recognize that the dignity of hard work is crushed by the drudgery of working for poverty wages.

A person is not a widget.  His labour on behalf of his employer is more than a mere input into the cost of doing business, it’s his “livelihood”.  The price of a human being’s livelihood cannot be determined by market forces alone.

A business owner who insists Albertans should be happy working for less than $15/hour has no respect for human dignity.

And a business that is competitive only because it is permitted to grind out products and services on poverty wages will not be economically viable for long.

Sourceshttps://work.alberta.ca/documents/alberta-minimum-wage-profile.pdf

Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism? By Robert Kuttner

Posted in Economy, Employment, Politics and Government | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Banning Alex Jones & InfoWars: Social Media Grows Up

This just in from the better-late-than-never department.

Last week Apple, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify “deplatformed” Alex Jones’ InfoWars from their platforms and pages.  It took them years to acknowledge that InfoWars violated their terms of service and it was time to say goodbye to the angry Mr Jones.

The only holdout is Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, who says Twitter will not remove InfoWars because Alex Jones did not violate Twitter’s terms of service, specifically Twitter’s safety rules which require someone to “cross the line” into threatening violence before they are banned.

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Alex Jones

Dorsey and his supporters raised a number of arguments to support this position, none of which are persuasive.  Here’s the rundown:

Banning Alex Jones is a violation of free speech:  Wrong.  It’s the government, not corporations, that are prohibited from infringing one’s right of free speech, and even then, free speech is not unlimited.  It can be restricted by laws against hate speech, defamation, etc.

It’s wrong to allow giant internet companies to act collectively and become the de facto arbiter of speech:  This allegation is based on unsubstantiated assumptions.  There is no evidence these companies acted in concert.  There is no evidence these companies will become the de facto arbiter of speech.  But most importantly, there is no law preventing them from enforcing their own Terms of Service.  Mr Jones raised a similar argument, calling upon Donald Trump to deal with this act of “corporate totalitarianism”.  It sounds silly coming from Mr Jones and it sounds even sillier coming from those who support Twitter’s position.

Mr Jones did/did not violate the Terms of Service:  Rather than review every company’s Terms of Service (they’re similar), let’s focus on Facebook.  It’s Terms of Service say FB will not condone conduct that violates community standards including hate speech and bullying.  FB says it will remove content that “encourages real-world harm, including (but not limited to) physical, financial and emotional injury”.  The user agrees not to engage in such conduct or to facilitate or support others in doing so.

Twitter’s Terms of Service prohibit “behavior that crosses the line into abuse, including behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another user’s voice…[or] specific threats of violence or wish for the serious physical harm, death, or disease of an individual or group of people”.  Abuse is defined as “the targeted harassment of someone” or inciting others to do so.

We could spend all day dissecting Mr Jones’ assertions that the moon landing was faked, Democrats ran a sex slave operation out of a pizza parlor, the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax and the students at Parkland are crisis actors, but in the interests of time, let’s focus on the story of Brennan Gilmore’s experience at Charlottesville.

Mr Gilmore attended the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville as part of his “civic duty to bear witness”.  He witnessed the car attack by a white supremacist on a crowd of anti-racist protesters and uploaded the video to the internet when people said the attack was an accident not intentional.

Within 24 hours the internet was awash with conspiracy theories.  Mr Jones amplified these theories by posting a “bombshell” investigation to his 2.4 million InfoWars YouTube subscribers that alleged Mr Gilmore was an operative in a George Soros plot to overthrow the president on behalf of the “dark state”.  Mr Gilmore and his family have been receiving death threats ever since.   

Under FB’s Terms of Service Mr Jones’ actions were a violation of the prohibition against hate speech, bullying, and facilitating or supporting others in such conduct.  Under Twitter’s Terms of Service Mr Jones’ actions could be considered “abuse”, namely the targeted harassment of someone or inciting others to do so.

Somewhere along the way since Charlottesville, Facebook decided Mr Gilmore “crossed the line”.  Twitter has yet to get there.

It’s hard to enforce the Terms of Service:  Critics complain that “community standards” are fluid and “hate speech” is a difficult concept therefore it’s difficult to police these sites and enforce these policies.  While that may be true in some cases, it’s not true in the InfoWars case.  Mr Jones is crystal clear about who the “enemy” is and what “patriots” should do about him/her.

Not my job:  When called upon to justify his position, Twitter’s Mr Dorsey said “Accounts like Jones’ can often sensationalize issues and spread unsubstantiated rumors, so it’s critical journalists document, validate, and refute such information directly so people can form their own opinions.  This is what serves the public conversation best.”

There are two problems with Mr Dorsey’s suggestion: (1) it’s the job of Twitter, not journalists, to enforce Twitter’s Terms of Service, and (2) journalists have enough to do to track down and document the truth without being asked to convince a conspiracy theorist to change his mind after it has been polluted by InfoWars. 

Mr Gilmore is a case in point.  He’s told journalists he is not a CIA operative for George Soros.  The conspiracy theorists say, “Well, of course he’s going to deny it.  He’s a CIA operative!”

At the end of the day

Eventually Mr Dorsey gave way on one point.  He agrees it’s not the journalists’ responsibility to clean up his mess.  Instead he adopted the suggestion made by Mike Masnick in TechDirt that social media companies should adopt a set of protocols that pass content control down to the end users.  Those who don’t want to be exposed to InfoWars can set up filters to screen themselves from the experience.

Leaving aside the obvious point that this solution renders Twitter’s Terms of Service meaningless, this suggestion makes no sense.  What’s the point of hiding InfoWars from people like Mr Gilmore when the company doesn’t hide InfoWars from the people who want to kill Mr Gilmore because they believe he’s a treasonous Soros operative?

Mr Dorsey says, “We’re committing Twitter to help increase the collective health, openness, and civility of public conversation, and to hold ourselves publicly accountable towards progress.”

It’s time for Mr Dorsey to stop making excuses and put his money where his mouth is.

Sources:

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180808/17090940397/platforms-speech-truth-policy-policing-impossible-choices.shtml

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/08/21/fake-news-charlottesville-215514

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-august-8-2018-1.4777255/aug-8-2018-episode-transcript-1.4778330

Posted in Crime and Justice, Culture, Social Media | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

Money or Mission? A Simple Test of Policy

In a discussion about politics in America, Michael Lewis, the author of The Big Short and Moneyball, said the rift isn’t between Republicans and Democrats, it’s between the people who are in it for the mission and the people who are in it for the money.

This “mission” or “money” distinction is a good way to understand and evaluate the political rhetoric Albertans will be hearing from the UCP in the runup to the 2019 election.

Mission or money? 

Jason Kenney has asked his supporters to lay off their hateful, racist, homophobic rhetoric (yes, it’s a big ask) and focus on the “NDP’s failed policies”.  Assuming Kenney succeeds in muzzling his supporters we should brace for a tsunami of misinformed, if not downright dishonest, attacks on NDP policies.

Kenney

Jason Kenney’s message to his supporters:  Tsk tsk 

These attacks will include strawman arguments that allege:

  • the progressive tax punishes the rich and therefore hurts the economy
  • regulatory oversight of business is excessive, chases away capital investment, and therefore hurts the economy
  • unions and the new minimum wage inflate wages, negatively impact competitiveness, and therefore hurt the economy,
  • privatization of education and healthcare is more efficient, saves tax dollars, and therefore helps the economy while giving Albertans greater “choice”

All of this will be wrapped up in a shiny blue “Bring Back the Alberta Advantage” bow.

The partisans will lap it up.

Partisanship

A recent editorial in the Globe and Mail (Aug 4, p O10) stated “…the absolute partisan doesn’t only believe strongly in her party’s values; she loathes people who don’t.  What’s more, she hews to those values not because she finds them valid, but because the party has decreed them.”

For decades Conservatives have decreed the path to prosperity is through balanced budgets, lower taxes, privatization, deregulation and a minimal welfare state.  This belief is set in stone, consequently there is no need to provide evidence to support this position and any evidence to the contrary can be dismissed out of hand…because, well, because Jason says so.

Partisans may be deaf to contrary points of view, but Albertans with an open mind will be interested in additional facts.

Writers like Robert Kuttner have outlined the advances made in the US, the United Kingdom and Europe in the post war period with the election of “activist” governments that regulated private capital, broke up monopolies, protected and empowered unions and created a social safety net that provided public healthcare, public education and social security which ushered in a period of great stability and opportunity.*

Kuttner says this period of broad prosperity and democracy began to erode in the 1980s when conservative politicians like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher adopted economic policies that emphasized deregulation and privatization, curtailed the power of unions and drastically reduced social welfare programs.

These destructive changes came with the promise of unparalleled prosperity which failed to materialize as income inequality increased and the world became even more insecure.

They don’t care  

Okay, let’s assume Kenney and the UCP are banking on the fact that most people don’t have the time or the inclination to research the economic and political history of the western world;  a simple way to assess the merits of the UCP attacks on NDP policies is the application of Michael Lewis’s “mission” or “money” test.

Assume “mission” means most Albertans and “money” means a select few who will benefit financially and ask:

  • if we return to a flat tax on income who benefits, most Albertans or the top 10%?
  • If regulatory oversight of businesses is relaxed who benefits, most Albertans or shareholders of companies with less rigorous environmental, health and safety, and financial reporting obligations?
  • If unions are weakened and the minimum wage is decreased who benefits, the 300,000 Albertans making less than the minimum wage and the 90,000 unionized Albertans working in healthcare, education, government and the private sector or business owners making higher profits?
  • If education and healthcare are privatized (paid for with public tax dollars but delivered by private corporations) who benefits, most Albertans or owners of businesses profiting from the new business model and the small segment of the population who can afford to access private services?

At end of day, Albertans need to ask themselves whether the UCP attacks on NDP policy are based on a desire to improve the “mission”—a better government for most Albertans—or improve the “money” for those who demand prosperity regardless of the social cost.

*Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism? By Robert Kuttner  

Posted in Economics, Politics and Government | Tagged , , , | 22 Comments

The Art of Civil Discourse (or why your comment didn’t get published)

Commentators on The Soapbox are generally a well-behaved lot, however Ms Soapbox has noticed an uptick in off the wall comments lately and would like to review why some Soapbox comments are published and others die on the wrong side of the firewall.

The Soapbox has never had rules telling commentators what to say or not say.  Instead Ms Soapbox hoped that commentators would pick up the tone of the blog and frame their comments accordingly.

Here’s a short quiz to determine if this approach was successful.

Question 1:   Comments that echo a politician’s talking points (eg “take back Alberta” and “restore the Alberta Advantage”) will NOT be posted because:

  1. They are devoid of meaning
  2. They are not supported by evidence
  3. They are slogans
  4. All of the above

Answer: (4) If a commentator wants to engage in dialogue about a political position they should raise the point and provide facts and thoughtful argument to support their position, without this they’re simply partisan cheerleaders.                      

Question 2:  A “squirrelly” comment is one that:

  1. Is tangentially related to the topic
  2. Directly on point (or in lawyer-speak “on all fours” with the topic)
  3. Speculates about Ms Soapbox’s ideological leanings and suggests her time would be better spent gardening.

Answer: (3) Posts are intended to encourage conversation about the main theme and tangentially related issues; comments about Ms Soapbox’s purpose in life or her political affiliation are as helpful as a squirrel running across a dog’s path.  The dog shouldn’t chase the squirrel, and neither should we.             

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Warning:  Do not chase this animal

Question 3:  An “ad hominem” comment will NOT be published because:

  1. It doesn’t discredit the argument
  2. It is irrelevant
  3. It’s the last resort of someone who doesn’t have a decent counterargument
  4. All of the above

Answer: (4).  Ad hominem comments are a waste of everyone’s time.    

Question 4:  Racist, anti-semitic, homophobic, misogynist, or Islamophobic comments will be published:     

  1. True
  2. False

Answer: (2).  Such comments will not be published even if you swear on a stack of bibles you are pure of heart because your comment indicates otherwise.   Think of it as the “Todd Beasley UCP candidate test”.

Question 5: The Soapbox is a kumbaya blog, contrary opinions are not welcome:

  1. True
  2. False

Answer: (2) The political spectrum is broad, no one has all the answers, and reasonable people disagree.  Readers who respectfully disagree with Ms Soapbox and each other and back up their positions with facts and rational argument will be published.  

Question 6:  Every comment should be published as a matter of free speech:

  1. True
  2. False

Answer: (2) FALSE, FALSE, FALSE!!! The free speech argument has been misused on social and main stream media to justify the publication of misinformation and hate speech.  Everyone has the right to their own opinion, but they don’t have the right to force Ms Soapbox to publish their opinion on her blog.  If your opinion is that important to you start your own blog. 

Question 7:  Conspiracy theories will NOT be published because:

  1. They are red herrings that distract readers from the main point
  2. They add nothing meaningful to the conversation
  3. They cannot be addressed rationally
  4. All of the above

Answer: (4) Conspiracy theories are popular with people who are frightened by economic and social change.  It is impossible to refute a conspiracy theory with evidence (an example would be paranoia around the NDP’s modernization of the school curriculum) and there’s no point trying.  Comments based on conspiracy theories will not be published (why fuel someone’s deluded fantasy).    

Question 8: Fear mongering comments like “what is the NDP hiding?” or “why is the NDP pushing through legislation that will destroy our way of life?” will NOT be published because: 

  1.  They belong in Question Period
  2. They are unsupported by facts
  3. They add nothing to the debate
  4. All of the above, except (1)

Answer: (4) Fear mongering comments are annoying and unproductive.  Ms Soapbox can’t keep them out of Question Period, but she can keep them off The Soapbox.    

Question 9:  Is it OK for commentators to attack each other?

  1. Yes
  2. Maybe, depending on how ridiculous the comment is.
  3. No, life is too short to waste on silly stuff

Answer: (3) Ms Soapbox tries to nip nasty comments in the bud but sometimes her readers get ahead of her (don’t you guys ever sleep?) and an antagonistic comment and snarky reply will show up on The Soapbox.  In this case, Ms Soapbox will remove both comments.  Let’s not get personal.        

 Bonus Question:  The optimum length of a comment is: 

  1. Twice as long as the original post
  2. The same length as the original post
  3. Half the length of the original post
  4. I don’t know

Answer: (4) Generally speaking a comment shouldn’t be longer than the original post because everyone, including Ms Soapbox, will lose interest, but there are exceptions.  Bottom line:  if the comment is interesting and informative it will be published, but there’s no guarantee it will be read.         

Do we need Blog Rules? 

Albertans will go to the polls in 2019.  The run-up to the election will be intense.  Politicians and their supporters will be tempted to engage in behaviors that create what author Michiko Kakutani calls “the new nihilism”, a feeling of loss—loss of faith in our institutions, loss of respect for the rule of law, and the loss of respectful debate with people who don’t think like us.

A blog can’t fix everything in our new post truth political environment, but Ms Soapbox believes that by asking readers to treat each other respectfully, especially we disagree, we will preserve our ability to engage in civil discourse.

Posted in Politics and Government | Tagged , | 45 Comments

Fildebrandt’s Freedom Conservative Party: Joke or Threat?

It is said that Jason Kenney is a shrewd politician but recently he made a mistake that might prove fatal.

We didn’t catch it at first, what with Kenney going into whack-a-mole mode smacking down one bozo eruption after another, however Kenney’s mistake became clear when he dismissed Derek Fildebrandt’s  announcement that he’d created a second conservative party in Alberta, the Freedom Conservative Party (FCP), which would go head-to-head with the UCP in any ridings where the NDP didn’t stand a chance.

Bad Boy

Fildebrandt has had a bad boy reputation since he set foot in the Alberta legislature.  He was an abrasive Wildrose MLA who thought nothing of going after Wildrose leader Brian Jean.  He was loyal to Jason Kenney throughout the UCP leadership race but was kicked to the curb when his lack of judgment caught up with him.

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Mr Fildebrandt, leader of the FCP, former UCP and Wildrose MLA

Kenney forced Fildebrandt out of the UCP caucus and he became an Independent after he was caught renting out his government-subsidized condo on Airbnb and double dipping on meal expenses.  Things came to a head when he was found guilty in traffic court of leaving the scene after backing his vehicle into another car and killing a deer on private property without the owner’s permission.

Kenney said as a result of Fildebrandt’s “pattern of poor judgment and unethical conduct” he would not be allowed to rejoin the UCP caucus or run for the party in the upcoming election.

Fildebrandt says he would have been content to run as an independent but for the UCP’s top-down meddling in the nomination process which he says “is happening across the province, in many constituencies, some of which have broken into the news, many of which have not”.

Bozo eruptions or top-down meddling

The bozo eruptions are coming fast and furious.

The UCP says the bozos acted inappropriately and don’t deserve to be on the ballot.  The bozos say the UCP is manipulating the nomination process to clear the way for women and minority candidates.

Examples include:

  • The UCP removing David Campbell from the ballot after MLA Leela Aheer applied for a restraining order to protect herself from the man she found terrifying. Campbell, a former Wildroser, said the UCP manipulated the nomination process to clear the way for Aheer to win.
  • Todd Beasley who was pulled from the ballot because of his Islamophobic Facebook rants. Beasley said he’s not a racist and the UCP is manipulating the nomination process.
  • Prab Gill, a sitting MLA, who resigned following an independent investigation into allegations of ballot-stuffing at his nomination meeting. Gill disagreed with the investigator’s findings but agreed to abide by them.

Fildebrandt is using Kenney’s crack down on bozo eruptions as proof of top-down meddling.

He promises the FCP will be a real grass roots democratic party where party members “hold the pen on policy” and MLA candidates will be selected by constituents, not backroom party insiders from the “old Tory establishment”.

Is the FCP for real?

Kenney dismissed the Freedom Conservative Party as “political vehicle designed to gratify a discredited MLA’s ego”.

This is a serious mistake because a tiny rump party with a handful of seats can lead the government around by the nose if the governing party fails to win a majority.

Look at the BC NDP government’s alliance with the BC Green Party.

BC, like Alberta, has 87 ridings.  The BC Liberals needed 44 seats for a majority.  They got 43.  The BC NDP got 41 seats and Andrew Weaver’s Green Party got three.  Those three seats allow the Greens to control the NDP government.  There’s nothing like the threat of a no confidence vote to encourage cooperation.

Alberta will go into an election in the spring of 2019.  The UCP will do well but not as well as they expect (NDP support is growing, even in Calgary).  If the UCP win, it’s possible they will form a minority government.  If they form a minority government and the FCP win a handful of seats, the UCP will have to appease the FCP to stay in power.  And this puts Fildebrandt in the catbird seat—he will hold Kenney’s future in the palm of his hand.

It would be a mistake for Kenney to ignore Fildebrandt and the FCP.

It would be an even greater mistake for progressive Albertans to pull back their support of the NDP because they think the FCP will split the conservative vote, allowing the NDP to win.

While it would be be entertaining to watch Kenney and Fildebrandt fight over the steering wheel, the damage a Kenney/Fildebrandt government would do to Alberta as it ricochets through the next four years would be heart breaking.

Posted in Politics and Government, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 41 Comments

Girls Just Want to Have Fun…at the Calgary Stampede

“When the working day is done.  Oh girls, they wanna have fun.”—Cyndi Lauper

After a rough few weeks Ms Soapbox and her family dug out their cowboy hats, found some denim shirts and went stampeding.

Ms Soapbox decided to retrace the steps of the all-time Stampede champion, Premier Rachel Notley, who has been spotted stampeding all over town.

Where to start?  How about the Zipline?  Rachel climbed up a 14 story tower, strapped herself into a zipline harness and whizzed across the Stampede grounds at 50 kmp.  The line zinged like a lightsaber.  When she was back on terra firma she declared it was “kinda cool”.

Ummm…nopeMs Soapbox fell off a curb at the Stampede last year and sustained a hairline fracture to her patella.  Ziplining was out of the question.   Wandering around the grounds sounded good.

Maybe something involving animals?  Rachel officiated at the wiener dog races at MLA Brian Malkinson’s Stampede Breakfast.  Three little dogs charged out of the starting gate, two got distracted and ran back to the starting line while the winner hopped over and around hay bales to take first place.  It’s not clear from the video footage whether the other two dogs understood they were haring off in the wrong direction.  (I’m sure there’s a lesson for the UCP in there somewhere).

stampede donuts

Ms Soapbox and family are photobombed by mini donuts

Ms Soapbox and her family opted for the Dog Bowl.  We cheered until we were hoarse for rescue dogs who dazzled us with feats of speed, agility, and cuteness.  We wandered over to the Ag Barn to check out the Clydesdales (which get bigger every year) and the miniature horses (which were tiny, sturdy, and delightful).

There’s always foodRachel and her Notley Crew flipped pancakes for 4000 Calgarians at the Premier’s Stampede Breakfast at McDougall Centre.

Yes, pancakes are a Stampede tradition, but after three hours on the grounds the Soapbox crew needed “real” food not flapjacks so we picked up a food map and headed for the kiosks flogging chicken on a stick, pulled pork, macaroni and cheese and Ms Soapbox’s personal favourite, pyrogies.  Nothing says “stampede tradition” like pyrogies, sausage, onions and sour cream straight out of a soggy carton eaten in the shade of the Banks of the Bow bronze sculpture accompanied by the howls of a strange small child who stepped on Mr Soapbox’s hand…twice.

Entertainment!  Rachel packed a lot of entertainment venues into her Stampede week—the highlight (for me at least) was when she joined the Maritime Bhangra Group on stage for Bhangra lessons.

The Soapbox entourage chose something a little more sedate.  We purchased tickets for the 50th Anniversary of the Young Canadians Grandstand Show.  They danced on stage and we boogied in our seats until the fireworks pffted to a stop and we staggered out into the smoky dark trying to remember where we’d parked the car.

Rachel Notley says in Alberta we know where we’re headed and how to get there.  This week she demonstrated it’s okay to have a little fun along the way.

Ms Soapbox agrees.

Happy Stampede, Alberta!

Posted in Celebrations, Culture, Humour, Politics and Government | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Overheard at Rachel’s Cocktail Party

It was packed, absolutely packed, at Rachel Notley’s cocktail party at Hotel Arts in Calgary last Wednesday.

The event was billed as an evening of cocktails and conversation with Rachel Notley and her caucus.   Tickets were available with a minimum $250 donation and the place was jammed.

Ms Notley gave a short speech highlighting the good things the NDP government is doing for Calgary, including building the long overdue Cancer Centre, finishing the Ring Road and funding the Green Line.   She talked about the collapse of oil prices, the Fort McMurray fire, tariffs, and opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.  She described what her government had done to stabilize the economy and strengthen the social safety net in anticipation of better times which by all accounts are returning.

She praised Albertans’ resilience and said we’re ready to face the future with confidence and optimism.

cocktail-drinks

But you don’t really care about all that do you, you want to hear the gossip…  

Overheard…

Wow, I didn’t expect to see you here!  Federal and provincial Liberals and long-time conservatives showed up in droves.  Had they abandoned their parties or simply realized that now is not the time for brand loyalty?  As one long time liberal put it, “A brand is something you wear on your backside.  I’m supporting Rachel because she’s accomplished a lot”.

Check out at all The Suits:  Business men and women in dapper suits came straight from work.  These were the same people who’d had a Defcon 1 meltdown when the NDP came to power in 2015, terrified about the loss of their long-standing relationships with PC politicians.  They’ve got new contacts now; the economy is improving and they’re not afraid to show their support for the NDP.

People ask me if I’m a socialist.  I’m a capitalist: A venture capitalist with significant holdings in Canada and the US explained why capitalists should support the NDP.  He said the focus should be on the size of the pie and how the pie is divided; he warned that a capitalist who fights to keep the last 10% of the pie (by opposing an increase in the minimum wage for example) risks losing the other 90%.  Look at the mess in the US, he said, not smart.

Trickle down economics doesn’t work:  If it did, both Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan would have received a Noble prize for alleviating poverty.

The NDP message is divisive:  Really?  How?  It divides the rich from everyone else (said the superrich conservative).  If there’s a better way to describe the impact of Kenney’s 10% flat tax than saying it benefits those making more than $128,000/year while chopping the healthcare and education budgets by $700 million, we’d love to hear it.

Alberta needs a provincial sales tax:  Every other province in the country has a PST.  It’s a reliable and sustainable source of income.  Agreed, but it’s political suicide;  or to put it another way, Albertans are big babies and won’t stand for it.  Pity.

Some people will vote UCP no matter what:  True, but we don’t need all the votes, we just need enough to tip the balance in our favour.  What about the Alberta Party?  What about them, or the Liberals or the Greens?  It’s a two-party contest:  Rachel vs Kenney.  (Refer to the “Wow, I didn’t expect to see you here” comments).

Can the NDP can win in 2019?  You bet they can.  Forget the polls which are unreliable and premature.  Look at the energy and commitment in this room.  These people want Rachel to win and they’ll devote their money, time, and talent to make it happen.

It’s a wrap

The cocktail party was still going strong when Mr and Ms Soapbox called it a night. We’d stuffed ourselves with canapes, we’d chatted with Rachel and her MLAs and connected with more NDP supporters than we dreamed possible at an NDP fundraiser in downtown Calgary.

We were struck by one thing.  If Rachel’s cocktail party is an indication of things to come, we’d witnessed the start of a phenomenon.

It’s called the Orange Wave.

Posted in Celebrations, Politics and Government | Tagged , , , | 47 Comments