Alison Redford: The Puppet Premier?

On March 17, 2014, following Premier Redford’s tearful introduction of her daughter Sarah to the Legislative Assembly, the ND Opposition leader Brian Mason rose to ask the Premier a critical question:*

“I regret having to ask this question, but it must be asked.  To the Premier: do you have enough support to keep governing?”

The government side of the house lept to its feet in a standing ovation; Ms Redford smiled and said:   “Well, Mr Speaker, all I can do is thank the hon. Member for his question.”

Mr Mason continued:  “The Premier says that she was given a work plan by the PC executive.  If so, Albertans want to know how this plan will influence the actions of the government.  To the Premier:  will this work plan affect in any way what this government does or how they do it?

Great question Brian!

The Premier offered a bizarre response.  “I’ll tell you Mr Speaker, that every single day that we work as a caucus, we work to make things better for Albertan’s.  That’s what we do as members of the Progressive Conservative Party, that’s what we’ll continue to do, and as we continue to work in alignment, that’s what allows Alberta to continue to grow.”

The work plan

Is it just me or is anyone else troubled by the fact that Alberta’s destiny lies in the hands of 52 unelected Albertans who happen to be members of the PC board of directors and not the 87 democratically elected MLAs (58 of whom happen to be PC party members) charged with representing the views of their constituents?

These are not the feverish ramblings of a paranoid mind.  The yet-to-be-developed work plan is described as a way to deal with issues from the party perspective and the premier’s perspective.**The Premier shared the work plan with her caucus on Monday morning.

While the PC party is within its rights to issue the PC party leader a work plan;  the PC party leader in her role as Premier has no business sharing the work plan with her caucus in the Legislature because the party leader’s work plan is party business, not government business.  In doing so Ms Redford and her caucus once again violated the boundary between partisan politics and government.   

On the other hand, if the work plan slops over into Ms Redford’s role as premier it is indeed government business and (consistent with Ms Redford’s promise of transparency) must be posted on Ms Redford’s website.  At least then we’ll be able to distinguish between actions she takes as government leader versus those she takes as party leader.  (For example if the PC party wants her to cut back on international travel we’ll know why she’s no longer going to Washington to promote our environmental record.)

Who is pulling the strings?

At the same time Ms Redford was losing track of which hat she was wearing in the Legislature, party leader or premier, Donna Kennedy-Glans announced that she was quitting the PCs to sit as an independent.  Why did this up and coming cabinet minister throw in the towel?  She says she was “increasingly convinced that the elements of this 43-year old government are simply unable to make the changes needed.”***

The spectacular PC party/government dust-up has made one thing perfectly clear.  This  government answers first to the “elements” that Donna Kennedy-Glans describes as people who believe that “because of their role in the party, they have some special voice or some special place”.**** Those of us without a special role in the PC party are so far down the priority list that we’re practically invisible.

To my mind this smacks of Tammany Hall, the powerful political machine that controlled the city of New York for almost a century.  We’ve waited almost 50 years to make a change, let’s not wait another 50 to replace our government for one that isn’t a puppet on a string.

*Hansard, Mar 17, p 255

**Calgary Herald, Mar 17 A4

***Calgary Herald, Mar 18, 2014, p A5

****Calgary Herald, Mar 18, 2014, p A4

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31 Responses to Alison Redford: The Puppet Premier?

  1. John Gulak says:

    Right on, Susan! The sense of entitlement in the Alberta PC Party reminds me of the sense of entitlement that was – and perhaps still is – so rampant among those people that have a special voice or role in the Liberal Party of Canada.

    • John, I’m reading a biography of Teddy Roosevelt. One of the tasks he took on as head of the Civil Service Commission was enforcing a federal law that mandated that one-quarter of all government jobs had to be filled on the basis of merit, not party affiliation. The Democratic Party and the Republican Party fought him tooth and nail because it undermined the “spoils system” as in “To the victor belong the spoils”. Sadly, we haven’t come a long way since the late 1800’s. Today’s Herald describes a $240,000 flood relief communications contract given to a firm run by Randy Dawson, former PC campaign strategist in 2008 and 2012. This was a sole-sourced, untendered contract that required an exemption to the government tendering policy. According to Dave Hancock the government’s public affairs department (annual budget $25 million) couldn’t take it on. They were too busy.

  2. Ted Woynillowicz says:

    By having 52 unelected members give the premier an ultimatum makes one wonder who is actually has the upper hand in deploying government policy in the province and who is being served. In my view, one person tthat has offered an explanation is Andrew Nikiforuk. His response can be found here:
    http://desmog.ca/2014/01/28/andrew-nikiforuk-canada-petrostate-dramatically-diminished-international-reputation
    Agree or not with Mr. Nikiforuk, it is a topic worthy of discussion and yet that has not occurred to date.

  3. Mary Thygesen says:

    Thanks for the link Ted. I agree with Mr. Nikiforuk, we have avoided the discussion, the elephant in the room for far too long.The ties between the PC party and the energy sector appear to be ever strengthening as Susan and Mr. Nikiforuk have pointed out in much of their writing. I often wonder, quite seriously, whether Alberta citizens would be ‘allowed’ to choose a government without these ties.

    • Ted: great link. It’s the first time I’ve heard the petrostate issue explained in such a clear way: (1) Alberta gets 30% of its revenue from the oil and gas industry, this severs the link between taxation and representation so industry is over-represented and the population is under-represented (hence a royalty and lease payment structure that’s lower than anything you’d find in the US or elsewhere). (2) Canadians are reluctant to have a national debate about the development of the oilsands, its impact on our currency, environment and international reputation because we’d have to confront our Canadian identity–we’re miners, loggers, rock chuckers, etc. But that still doesn’t explain how Norway found a way to get through this over/under representation problem and we didn’t. Is it because Norway was more of a socialistic state to begin with?

      Mary: your comment about being “allowed” to choose a government without ties to the industry are intriguing.
      Thanks for sharing.

  4. Angela says:

    As a former GoA employee, I have been watching government (almost) silently from a distance since my departure in 2011 after about 20 years of service. While I served the elected members and people of Alberta, I was humbled each and every time I walked up the steps into the Legislature. What an important place, I thought! How lucky for me that I had such opportunity to do good, meaningful work. I did not always feel valued nor liked some of the behaviours I saw, but I kept at it because I thought the sacrifices (and there were many) were worth it. Susan, I have been tempted to comment many times on this site because I admire and appreciate the way you think. Makes me think, too. But today, I am compelled to speak out after yet another unbelievable performance. The Premier’s introduction of her daughter yesterday was difficult to watch. Like a traffic collision in slow motion. The word “outraged” would be a good descriptor after viewing her use that lovely young girl as a shield, and perhaps try to gain some sympathy yet again for being a working mother. Hancock should have kept his mouth shut on her defence in the House a few days ago. That, too, was awful.

    However, let’s not forget that this government has arrived exactly where it is largely with no one to credit but itself. I take exception to the phrase natural governing party as there is nothing natural about it. It is contrived. Most Conservative members do not (or cannot) separate government from the party. Unfortunately, it needs to be said that much of the senior levels of the GoA (a like-minded protectionist group) extend this blended view to rank and file staff, many of which will never know unless they work outside of Alberta why it is inappropriate to flash party membership cards while on the job. From this construct, the path would inevitably lead to today because “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The recent media frenzy over the Premier’s behaviour has only expedited the trip. The Conservatives are showing their lack of competency in dealing with a bit more push back from Opposition benches and, oddly enough, ever increasing members of the public who are becoming vocal. However, it is the implosion from within where they will see their quickest failure to retain the moral authority to govern. I would argue there are plenty of signs that has already occurred beyond departing members. Time for a change is an understatement. It would appear that it is the Conservatives themselves, now seemingly inept and desperate, who will be making that much easier for the Brian Masons of Alberta.

    • Angela, I couldn’t agree with you more. Poor little Sarah actually winced when her mother made her stand for the second time (she was introduced with the Louis Pasteur school group the first time) and said “She is my friend. She is my supporter. She is certainly my daughter.” And what teenager wouldn’t feel uncomfortable being made the focus of attention like that. Given that Redford had not introduced her daughter to the House in the entire 6 years she’d been an MLA the timing of this introduction was certainly curious.

      I was saddened (but not surprised) to hear that the blurring of the lines between politics and government has seeped down to the rank and file in government. If they’ve lost the ability for objective evidence based inquiry they’re certainly not in a position to advise their ministers on issues like the deregulation of the electricity markets.

      Your description of walking up the steps of the Legislature struck a cord with me. I’ve only been there a few times and every time I go I’m in awe of what the institutions of democracy can accomplish. Then I sit in the gallery and watch the PC government twist the democratic process to deliver whatever it is they’ve promised to their cronies. It must have been very difficult for you and your colleagues to watch the degradation of the government and the civil service. As you said, they have only themselves to blame. Change is coming in 2016 (that in itself is the topic of another fulsome blog).

  5. midge says:

    The ‘back room’ boys have always been the ones who call the shots in that party. The rest are all puppets. Remember Leigh Clark, VP for Alta Link, then Alta Links Bill 50 untendered contracts for unnecessary billions of dollars transmission lines? He was one of their VPs and when he got caught for such a blatant conflict on interest, he said ‘ well, it never came up, never was an issue.” The whole bunch completely disgusts me.

    • Midge: Leigh Clark said the blatant conflict of interest “never came up”…? It’s the duty of the person who is conflicted to raise the conflict, not the other way around. But then again, we’re wasting our breath on these guys…time for a new broom.

  6. midgelambert says:

    P.S. Brilliant as usual, Susan. Thanks!!

  7. Frank Horvath says:

    Thanks for raising this question so eloquently, Susan. Only a very small number of Albertans are members of the PC party. An even smaller number are permitted to attend conventions where policy is approved. Virtually a handful of PC party members—the executive—- had a hand in Redford’s work plan. Nikiforuk thinks the oil and gas industry plays a predominant role in running this province. I would agree, but would broaden the group to include all big business, not necessarily Canadian. So who are we, the electorate, in this so called democracy? Just chickens?

    • Thanks Frank. The PC party executive continues to demonstrate how blind it is to the line between politics and government. Jim McCormick said “I don’t think people should be disciplined for their thoughts or expressing them”. The “people” he was referring to were the so-called dissident MLAs. The “thoughts” he was referring to were their dissatisfaction with their premier. How very generous of him, but I thought the role of the party was to raise money, get volunteers and find good candidates to run in the next election, not to discipline elected MLAs who represent the interests of their constituents. Isn’t it the job of the premier and the party whip to instill discipline in order to achieve the government’s (not party’s) agenda? God what a mess.

  8. Ted Woynillowicz says:

    Mary, the reach of corporations in Alberta (and in Canada) is long. They seem to be reaching broadly across a variety of areas to amalgamate their influence and, with the current view that taxes can go nowhere but down, this gives them the opportunity to provide money to cash strapped institutions whether they are universities, school boards, medical facilties, recreational centres to mention a few. It’s done over time to give th public the opportunity to acclimatize and normalize these quiet changes. Now they are going after education curriculums to influence our youngest minds and also convey their importance and relevance to society.(http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/oilsands-companies-could-get-a-say-in-new-alberta-curriculum-1.2570244) It’s also happening at the federal level as Canada is elevated to an energy super power by the current PM. CAPP’s donation to the Museum of Civilzation is another example of the changes taking place. The Canadians Geographic may have also been influenced by industry, an untoward action as expressed by concerned readers:
    http://www.capp.ca/aboutUs/mediaCentre/CAPPCommentary/Pages/NationalGeographic,March2009Issue.aspx In addition, there are daily reminders from the industry that can be found in televsion, radio, magazine and newspaper ads. And by the way, where is the discussion and action on climate change?

  9. David Grant says:

    Once again, this is very good analysis from Susan and some good discussion especially from Ted. I haven’t read the piece that Ted gave from Desmogblog(great blog for those of you haven’t had the chance to check it out)but I have heard from Andrew Nikiforuk about this very topic and use the word “petro-state” before and I have used it as well because it seems to describe what is going on here. This fact makes it very difficult to even talk about the very subject with anyone who isn’t already interested. When you do make the effort, as I do from time to time, on other blogs or the comment section(as I did in response to the controversy surrounding Rex Murphy’s conflict of interest as a journalist and his speaking engagements to the oil industry), you get all sorts of criticism which usually says if you don’t like the tar sands then don’t any of the products created by oil or that all of the environmental concerns are a bunch of rubbish. Never once do they address the substance of my comments which tells you a lot about the other side and just brainswashed they are from industry and perhaps how ignorant they are. Still, I like others here, keep at the subject because as Susan has pointed out in other blogs the health of our society is at stake. These 52 unelected members are the one pulling the strings. Having said all of that, we still have tools that we can use to try to make the changes we need and we need to keep at it. Look at the fact that we have two MLAs(one of them my MLA, Donna Kennedy Glans)who have crossed the floor recently. That shows you the kind of discontent from within that there is. This makes me believe that minority and coalition governments with all of their challenges provide the best governments possible. They not only provide the best legislation but they provide some good checks along with the courts, a responsible media, and active citizens.

    • David, good comments, I especially like your point at the end where you say that we have the tools to make change and we need to keep at it. I thought that your MLA did a courageous thing and wisely didn’t let her actions be characterized as a criticism of Redford when it was in reality a criticism of the PC party/government itself. She deserves a pat on the back for taking this step. Hopefully more PC MLAs will find the courage to step forward. It’s pretty hypocritical for them to continue sniping at Redford but not doing anything further about it.
      Or maybe they believe the PC party machine will “discipline” them after all, regardless of protestations to the contrary by party president Jim McCormick.

  10. Susan Wright: not window dressing but a contrived apparatus for staying in power. Since Lougheed, successive PC governments have used the Judas Goat of a tainted Premier to hold onto power. Under this system: 1) party ideology created disaffection among the electorate, 2) with the intercession of party members and spin doctors, the Premier becomes the focus of the public’s displeasure, 3) a leadership convention elects a ‘red Tory’, 4) the party distances itself from the former leader and are reborn as a part of the people, 5) go to 1).

    • Fritz: your five step plan is just diabolical enough to be true! Nevertheless, the Manning Foundation types hate the PC leadership election process because it allows interlopers like Redford and Stelmach to come up the middle and “steal” the leadership away from whomever they consider to be the better candidate. I attended a MF presentation on the trouble with Two Minute Tories and was delighted to tell Ted Morton that I was one of them. (I thought Redford was the best of the bunch, only to learn that you can change the head but the body remains the same). Quite an interesting evening. Here’s the link: https://susanonthesoapbox.com/2013/09/15/a-two-minute-tory-spends-an-evening-with-ted-morton/

  11. Julie Ali says:

    Hi Susan,

    I think the entire lot of them are puppets. I’ve had the feeling of not being represented since the time of the Klein error.
    When I’d write to the MLAs and Mr. Klein –about the horrendous messes in health care at the time which was the beginning of the privatization of the health care sector (complete with blown up hospitals) I would get the agreeable responses that the folks in NoDrillingLethbridge are now getting from the energy minister–Diana McQueen. Here is part of her Synergy message to the folks in Lethbridge:

    “Alberta’s communities continue to grow, and that growth means more interaction between energy development and urban development. Energy development near urban areas is common in many of Alberta’s cities and towns. With the continued growth in our communities we understand a balance needs to be achieved. That’s why our department continues to review whether adequate policies are in place for development in urban areas and planning is underway to engage with key stakeholders, including industry and Alberta municipalities.

    We also encourage the companies and the municipalities to continue to work together to address public concerns. We expect companies to understand any constraints before applying for mineral rights, and to follow all regulatory requirements of the Alberta Energy Regulator. As Alberta continues to grow, we will make sure the regulator has the right policies in place to ensure responsible energy development.”

    ********************************************************************

    I think I have heard these sorts of soothing words in every response I’ve got from the Tories (and they weren’t many replies).

    This sort of non-response to the concerns of citizens has been the only constant theme with the Tories and basically the citizens who got this response to their 11,000 signature petition understood that they don’t count. The Tories are in charge, the oil industry will get to do what it wants and policies/ consultation will be our only way to be heard.

    Unfortunately our contribution will not mean any sort of citizen power. These policies and engagement sessions will result in AER regulations that will be administered by the AER employees who are paid by the oil and gas industry. I’m betting that they won’t be too eager to tick off their real employer. The AER is simply the nice way the government has devised to tell citizens that they can’t do anything for us and nor can the energy regulator but we will give you the hearing where you can complain and find out in the end, that citizens have no power.

    When the citizens finally get fed up with this sort of runaround that can go on for decades–and go to court, the AER indicates that their cases are closed. The AER gets annoyed that it hasn’t been able to dissuade the citizens from fighting for a bit of power. Seems like citizens who are impacted by the oil and gas industry have to fight it out alone. We are powerless even in court where the Harper guy has changed the judge for Jessica Ernst’s case by simply promoting the one who was originally presiding over her case and inserting a new judge. It’s pretty neat in a way to see how they have lined up the citizen ducks and are taking careful aim at us all to bring down any sort of dissent. All we can do is dissent endlessly and even then they don’t like us doing this and if you are a doctor, there will be a witch hunt as in the case of Dr. John O’Connor. Think of that folks. Advocating for patients who have suspicious rare cancers near the oil sands can ensure that employees of Health Canada feel put upon and will complain about you to the powers that be in medicine. It’s such a well set up system by the provincial Tories, the federal Tories and the oil and gas industry that we are more than a Petro-state. I’d say we’re heifers and steers being herded with the occasional visit to the abattoir.

    The current group of cowboys have the citizens pretty much penned in –in every way possible. If calling the mummies–Wiebo Ludwig mummies won’t cow them, if a visit from the RCMP won’t shut them up, if patronizing words from officials won’t do the trick, if they can’t get you to give up by delaying until they have 600 complaints about emissions—well then–they will probably do a hearing, let citizens yap, and then do nothing as they are doing in the Peace. I betcha they will end that hearing by saying that it would be good for the company to have a closed loop system for its emissions but its not breaking the law or anything. Which by the way, is true. But certainly the fact that Shell has already done the closed loop system indicates that perhaps this sort of system is necessary in the Peace.
    But far be it for the Tories to tell their employers in the oil and gas industry to do the closed loop system. Far better for the citizens to suffer. It’s outrageous but it works in Alberta.
    This is such a strange province.
    Everyone in government and everywhere else like in the AER–is supposedly representing the people of Alberta but strangely enough– when the citizen is impacted by oil and gas, that citizen is maligned by community leaders/ other citizens; that citizen cannot get help from the energy regulator and that citizen is a pariah as far as the government of Alberta is concerned as in the case of Jessica Ernst. Its pretty scary being an activist and all Jessica wanted was to have a home without all this fuss. Really all these citizens who have been impacted by the oil and gas industry would never in a million years waste their lives in these lawsuits if they did not believe that democracy has been subverted, their rights nullified and the truth has become a major coverup in their cases.

    What is more amazing to me than the behavior of the government and the AER is the behavior of some Albertans who treat the citizens impacted by oil and gas as lepers in their communities. The patriotic kind of chatter that folks in Alberta broadcast about the citizens who have been adversely impacted by oil and gas is pretty nutty. Frankly these folks are not very believable.
    Why would they think that these citizens are making up their stories? Why would they think that problems with oil and gas only happen in the USA but not in Alberta? Why do they think that “best in the world regulations” make it impossible for fracking to create difficulties? It is impossible for any industry to operate without some errors. There will always be mistakes due to human error. But instead of the oil and gas industry admitting to the real errors that have occurred– they fight tooth and nail to avoid any admission of guilt. Or they cover up errors with non-disclosure agreements with the victims.

    I am also curious why the industry is not proactive in defending itself in the fracking business with development of tracers. If they want to prove fracking is so safe, why don’t they develop non-toxic tracers in fracking fluids? If tracers can be developed this would end the idea of false claims.

    This is one article about non-toxic tracers and industry use would ensure that if there is water contamination –there would be proof for citizens that could be presented to the energy regulator.

    http://stateimpact.npr.org/texas/2013/01/22/scientists-close-to-testing-tracers-for-drilling-fluid/
    Tracing the Culprit if Fracking Pollutes Water Supplies
    ********************************************************************************
    But of course you have to have a real democracy without puppets in the Tory parties at all levels— for this to be a workable business.

    I feel that we live in an inverted totalitarian system in Alberta (see Sheldon Wolin). Mr. Harper has taken this system nationwide. It remains to be seen if the rule by corporations will endure after we turf the Harper crew at the federal level. But certainly we have had this corporate rule in Alberta –since the Klein error. The Tories are all puppets. Ms, Redford is simply the leader of the puppet party. And we are just the audience watching the puppet show every single day.

    I think it is time to hire new folks. I don’t know if this will change the problem of having puppets in the government.
    I doubt the Wildrosies will alter the puppet show since they are also puppets of the oil and gas industry.
    They’re just different puppets but the folks pulling the strings are still the same.

    It may be that we will have an Albertan spring like the Arab spring. Miracles might happen.
    In any case, I see signs that Albertans might be getting restive. Albertans don’t get very rambunctious in general—but certainly it is interesting to note —- that ordinary mummies like Diana Daunheimer are going to court and then of course Jessica Ernst is getting some attention from Albertans in the anti-urban drilling movement in Lethbridge. Maybe the Wiebo Ludwig labels are falling off these activists now that the problems of rural Albertans are coming to the cities. Maybe more and more ordinary citizens are becoming less afraid and more willing to fight for their rights. They are very brave folks.

    These are interesting times.
    Best to enjoy our status as the captive audience –until the next elections.
    We only get to have any power at election time. It is short lived power, but power nevertheless.
    Democracy is only democracy for one day in Canada–on election day.

    • Ted Woynillowicz says:

      Well stated, Julie. I agree with you in your last statement about democracy ocuuring only election day. Over the last 3 or 4 decades, there has been a transition to manufactured democracy model or as Chris Hedges calls it, inverted totalitarianism. I have spoken about it in previous comments on this site but it is one that is worth repeating. The term itself was coined by Sheldon Wollin http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9175.html
      and often used by Chris Hedges, public intellectual and author,

      in both his books and his presentations, many of which are posted on youtube.

    • Julie and Ted:
      You make an excellent point about how difficult it is for Albertans to express concern about the oil and gas industry. The government persuaded Albertans that it will kill the golden goose if it imposes reasonable parameters on industry and uses this to justify its refusal to rework the royalty/tax structure or enforce existing health, safety and environmental regulations, let alone make them more stringent. Based on the Nikiforuk interview, industry didn’t have to work very hard to bring the government on side–generating 30% of the government’s revenue gives industry tremendous clout. Given that many Albertans don’t follow these issues very carefully, it’s easy for them to accept the PC government’s modus operandi–trust industry. But given the problems that have recently come to light (the list you’ve provided Julie is likely the tip of the iceberg) this laissez-faire approach isn’t going to cut it much longer.

      David: I agree with your point about minority and coalition governments, at least until we can get full democratic reform, they’re the next best thing.

      • David Grant says:

        Thanks for your reply. For those who are interested in the ideas of proporational government, there is the grass-roots group Fair Vote which has been working on this idea for quite awhile. There have been referendums in BC, PEI, and Ontario, but they were defeated mainly because the proposals were quite complicated. That is the lesson to take here. The bottom line is that when you allow a culture where dynasties can flourish, then a sense of entitlement takes over. I am always surprised that Albertans have difficulty grasping what most provinces have caught onto. In terms of Ms. Redord’s departure, it is sad that she didn’t face the electorate but if you have problems with your own party it is difficult to see how you can govern the province. She will still go down as the first woman premier and she does have her own accomplishments. It is sad that we have lost our first bilingual premier, but that trend seems to promising when you look at the number of premiers who have that ability.

      • David, the PC cabinet ministers who’ve indicated interest in taking over is pretty lackluster in my opinion: Denis (wants to heal wounds and bury grievances first). Hughes (wants feedback on leadership from Albertans), Horner (says it’s easy to “regurgitate” (?) what you believe when it’s in your heart) and Lukaszuk (if he has the qualities required he’ll be “very humble”). Before we know it Albertans will be pleading with Hancock to stay on! I wonder if that’s his plan…?

  12. Carlos Beca says:

    The photo reflects very well the false compassionate side of Alison Redford. Now that she is down, she brings her daughter, talks about seniors and Albertans and the famous ‘People of this province’. We have seen this strategy or this double personality over and over. In fact she is so good at it that with the help of a couple of Wildrose morons, she won the election with a majority. I thought at the time to be a good thing, but not anymore.
    As far as I am concerned Alberta has done what the neo-cons have been dreaming since the Mulroney years and that is the fusion between government and fascist cult of corporate power. It is so successful that we can no longer say where one starts and the other begins.
    The new incarnation of this is the Premier’s Work Plan! So the rules are now coming from the PC elites, the ones that pay for the party to win.
    Well to me the picture is quite a different one. We have a premier that is not capable of realizing the difference between reality and her world of fantasy where all she talks about is to work every day for Albertans. Sounds like the Borgias.

    • Carlos, you’re absolutely right about the government continuing to push us into the arms of corporations. Dave Hancock is getting ready to roll out the Social Innovation Endowment Fund (one of three funds set out in Bill 1). As I understand it, this program will create “social impact bonds” which are sold to the private market and pay a significant return if the public service activity meets certain metrics. Apparently it was used in the US to reduce recidivism in penitentiaries. But here’s the kicker, the private sector won’t “invest” in high risk social issues, so it picks the ones almost guaranteed to succeed (in the US example, the discharged prisoners were young, received lots of education, skills training and support once outside, and to their credit were successful). The government (tax payers) paid Goldman Sachs a 20% return on the bonds on top of the cost of the education, skills training and support that it would have provided in any event.
      Dave Hancock says the Fund (which is coming out of the Heritage Savings Fund by the way) “is not the preserve of government”. It’s all about partnership among government, non-profits and the private sector. He intends to “engage” key community stakeholders and “leaders in the field of social innovation” in this effort.
      Hello Goldman Sachs.

      • John Gulak says:

        Susan, I would not be too quick to draw a conclusion that partnerships among government, non-profits and the private sector are all about enriching the Goldman Sachs of the world. Each one of those sectors brings a perspective and particular strengths (and weaknesses) to the table but they are all key players in the social sphere. My own experience has been that governments have rarely been the source of innovative ideas in the social sphere. Political championing of innovative ideas usually follows after they have bubbled up from community groups, non-profits or business – perhaps a commentary on our culture of timid political leadership in Alberta but probably also a political reality in most jurisdictions.

      • Fair point John, no single group has a lock on creativity. I made a few assumptions here which are not yet confirmed. The first is that social impact bonds will be one of the proposals that will emerge from the Social Innovation Fund consultation process. The second is that Alberta’s experience with social impact bonds will mirror that of the UK where the end result was poorer quality care (similar to the problems we’re seeing with for-profit long term care facilities).
        Admittedly, poor quality care is a different concern than enriching Goldman Sachs for services that the government should be able to deliver on its own, but there you have it…the inner workings of my suspicious mind.

  13. Carlos Beca says:

    She is finally gone. Forced out by a gravitational wave of pressure that will become the new reality of Mickey Mouse politics. The PC party be on notice because if the next leader is more of the same in another few months he/she will also be gone. The era of hidden cultist politics is over. People are waking up.

    • Carlos I’m in 100% agreement. Stay tuned for this week’s blog. There’s certainly no lack of material with this PC government at the helm!

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Cannot wait 🙂 🙂
        Gosh the body language on that goodbye speech was something else.
        I could not believe how much she had accomplished and how Progressive it all was!!
        She worked so HARD for this province!
        I could not stop thinking all the wait in airports and having to travel by plane in second and even third class seats and the horrible hotel rooms. I was really sorry for her as I listen to it. I could not get over the substandard food and drinks she had to endure to represent our province. Oh well someone has to do it. 🙂

  14. Diana Brockhurst says:

    You’re spot on & brilliant!!!

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