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Ralph's Team on Mad Cows versus Ralph's Team on Insurance Premiums
Ralph Klein views the risk of insurance premium induced election defeat as more important than the bankruptcy of Alberta's ranchers.


Click on the development you want to read about
Friday, December 17, 2004.. Aftergate - Dr. Yes to the rescue - Rod Love hires Multi-Corp Ethics Excuser to shoot, shovel and shut up     Friday, December 17, 2004.. Eye Opener defames Municipal Affairs Minister - apology delayed in lawyer's office     Friday, December 10, 2004.. The Aftergood Scandal triggers an Alberta revolution     Friday, December 03, 2004.. Conflicts of interest with a Romanov touch- the return of Chief of Staff Rod Love     Tuesday, November 23, 2004.. Yesterday's Alberta Election - The Liberal Party needs a new name     Friday, November 19, 2004.. The Alberta Election - It's all about Opposition, Stupid     Friday, November 12, 2004.. The Alberta Leaders' Debate - It's time for Political Smarts     Friday, November 12, 2004.. Calgary Mountain View - Irate Eye Opener Editor fires incompetent reporter     Friday, November 05, 2004.. The November 22 election - a real possibility - what Alberta needs - a minority government in Alberta     Friday, October 29, 2004.. "Severely normal" - Rod Love's words come back to haunt him     Friday, October 22, 2004.. The Aftergood Affair - Tory fixer's moll stirs up stink in Ward 10     Friday, October 15, 2004.. Paying the spin doctor     Friday, October 15, 2004.. Klein for President?     Friday, October 08, 2004.. Rod Love - Where are you when we need you?     Friday, October 01, 2004.. Local Government - the Tories could still lose November 22 election     Monday, September 06, 2004.. Chump Ralph drops the ball on Alberta independence     Monday, September 06, 2004.. The "It's your future" questionnaire - Government by spin-doctors, of spin-doctors, for spin-doctors     Monday, August 30, 2004.. The Emperor has no clothes? Why won't Premier Ralph show up at September's Canadian health care talks?     Monday, August 16, 2004.. The Alberta Public Affairs Bureau's Election Platform     Monday, August 02, 2004.. Chump Klein - "almost" quitting is not good enough     Monday, July 19, 2004.. A real threat to the Klein Government - Dave Bronconnier and municipal politicians?     Wednesday, February 25, 2004.. Bedside Booze - A Smokescreen for the Chump    

The Calgary Eye Opener
Friday, December 17, 2004

Aftergate - Dr. Yes to the rescue - Rod Love hires Multi-Corp Ethics Excuser to shoot, shovel and shut up

As we reported last week (and see also Tory fixer's moll stirs up stink in Ward 10), Judge Peter Martin and most Calgarians demanded that Alberta's Tory government out the Aftergood Scandal in public before a judge - a judge who is not working for Alberta government - " ... a public hearing," in the words of Judge Martin, " ... where witnesses can be required to testify [and cross-examined] under oath".

Think back to the Multi-Corp scandal of 1995. In 1993 Big Mike Lobsinger had bribed Premier Ralph Klein and his chief of staff, Rod Love. In 1995, the Liberals found them out. Imagine a judge not paid by the Tory government investigating Multi-Corp in 1995. Imagine a judge holding court in public, a judge not paid by the government of Alberta. Imagine Liberal lawyers cross-examining witnesses under oath. Imagine Ralph Klein today, nine years, after a Multi-Corp public inquiry - imagine the Chump living in a shack in the East Kootenays scraping by on an AISCH level ($810 per month) pension.

The Tories avoided all that back in 1995 by calling in then "Ethics Commissioner" Bob ("Dr. Yes") Clark to investigate. In the immortal words of Chump Klein they ordered Clark to "shot, shovel and shut up". They armed Clark with a long shovel and a curtain of secrecy - they shut out the public. Clark did not have to call witnesses. Witnesses did not have to be cross-examined. Witnesses did not have to testify under oath - they could lie and not go to jail for it.

Bob Clark was a retired Social Credit politician. To see snapshots of Clark in action or inaction click here ... and here. We don't know (it's a Tory secret) how much the taxpayers of Alberta paid Clark or the magnificence of his fat pension when he retired last year. Put it this way - in 1995, Clark didn't want to lose his job. Clark provided window dressing for the Tories and Clark should have been called like we called Howard Wilson last spring (Ethics Excuser still operating) an "Ethics Excuser" not an "Ethics Commissioner".

Clark kept his job and his pension. He found neither Klein nor Love nor their wives, who fronted for them, had breached any "standards".

Along comes the Aftergood Scandal of 2004. Calgarians are howling for a public inquiry. As in 1995, Rod Love runs the Alberta government. We don't know why but Love fears a full public inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act. So Love falls back on his old savior Bob Clark. Love asks Clark to "inspect" the Aftergood scandal just like he "investigated" the Multi-Corp scandal back in '95. Behind closed doors. No cross-examination and so on.

The public were up in arms at Dave Bronconnier last week. We predict they'll be up in arms this week. Already, in the bars and churches and coffee shops of Alberta, the Old Timer from Pincher Creek hears and hears again the word "cover-up". The letters and the e-mails will flow again to politicians, newspapers, radio stations, the CBC, television stations. The politicians and the media will force Love to back down and to order an Aftergate public inquiry before an independent judge.

Without blinking an eye, a younger, gutsier Rod Love would have called an Aftergate public inquiry. Love had little to lose. A younger, gutsier Rod Love would have sacrificed the few Tory politicians involved in Aftergate on the altar of a public inquiry. The government would have survived. But now Love and the Klein government will have to back down. And bringing in old ethics excuser Clark reminds Albertans, again, of Multi-Corp.

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The Calgary Eye Opener
Friday, December 17, 2004

Eye Opener defames Municipal Affairs Minister - apology delayed in lawyer's office

The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.
Shakespeare's Dick the Butcher in King Henry VI

Last weeks article The Aftergood Scandal triggers an Alberta revolution made the following unprovoked statement:

Justice Minister Stevens and Municipal Affairs Minister Rob Renner of Medicine Hat are both highly skilled, honest trial lawyers.
We libeled Renner. He is a florist not a lawyer.

Jonathan Swift said of lawyers that they are:

... men (the Eye Opener finds she lawyers every bit as bad) bred up from their youth in the art of proving, by words multiplied for the purpose, that white is black and black is white, according as they are paid.
Down through the ages, humankind has said many nasty things about lawyers (by way of examples click here).

We have clearly libeled and defamed Mr. Renner. We have instructed our lawyer to come up with a suitable apology. When she graduated in 1905, her law school awarded her the gold medal in Procrastination 301. We are still waiting. Perhaps one of our lawyer readers can help us by clicking here and then sending us an appropriate apology.

Meantime, in lieu of a legal apology, flowers are clearly inappropriate. So, Mr. Renner:

We're sorry, we're sorry, we're sorry.

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The Calgary Eye Opener
Friday, December 10, 2004

The Aftergood Scandal triggers an Alberta revolution

Revolutions never go backward
Wendell Phillips (1811-1884)

For the Tory nomination in East Calgary's Montrose constituency, last summer, one Gus Barron challenged seldom-heard-about-seldom-heard-from MLA Hung ("missing-in-action") Pham. Political fixer Dave Aftergood and Hung Pham simply threw Barron out of the contest and appointed Pham the November 22 Tory candidate. Barron hauled the two before no-nonsense federal Judge Peter Martin. On July 30 Martin found that:

... it was fundamentally unfair to have one of the parties to such a dispute empowered to disqualify the other without the possibility of an effective review. I find that ... the failure to have a hearing by an impartial person or tribunal who would provide both sides an opportunity to be heard, raised serious questions of fairness.
and forced Pham and Aftergood to rehold the nomination (Pham won the new nomination contest). Did East Calgary show Pham the door on November 22nd? No, even after police had raided Pham's house and seized his computer and former Ward 10 alderman Dianne Danielson had subpoenaed Pham to testify in the Aftergood vote fraud scandal. Even after all that, over half of Montrose's voters voted for Pham.

Last summer police charged Calgary East Tory MLA, Moe Amery, with involvement in a passport scam. Did voters give Amery the bum's rush? On November 22 over 55% of Calgary East voters voted for Amery.

"When I die I want to go in East Calgary," said one-time East Calgary MLA, one-time East Calgary MP John Kushner, "that way I can stay active in politics." Albertans laughed knowingly.

Over the years the Tories have appointed many a loyal Tory to sit on the Alberta Provincial Court at $197,000 a year. Over the years, not one Albertan has raised a peep.

Albertans didn't seem to care. As an issue that seriously upset Albertans, newspapers, TV and radio all over Canada wrote corruption off. As long as Albertans made a good buck, the media said, Albertans held their noses and voted Tory. Up until two weeks ago.

About two weeks ago, from out of nowhere blew in a totally unpredictable 100 mile-an-hour chinook. Our article of October 22 ("Tory fixer's moll stirs up stink in Ward 10") describes how Dave Aftergood and the Tory establishment fixed the October 18 election in Ward 10 with mail-in ballots. Later investigations pinpointed individuals who voted more than once. By hook and by crook the Tories and the Aftergoods got Dave's wife Margo elected as Ward 10's alderman. On October 22, we also described how city returning officer Barb Clifford caught the Aftergoods and the Tory machine with their hands in the cookie jar. Slowly at first, speeding up as time went on, the Aftergood Affair festered. In late October, former alderman and election loser Diane Danielson applied for a "judicial review" of the election. Druh Farrel, Ray Jones and five other aldermen helped finance Danielson's $100,000 legal costs. They got Judge Peter Martin involved again. The straight-shooting Martin, appointed a judge not for his politics but for his ability and experience in criminal law ordered a Judicial Review of Ward 10 under the Alberta Local Authorities Elections Act. Judge Martin set two goals for the Judicial Review:

  1. to decide if Margo Aftergood should be thrown out as Ward 10's Alderman, and
  2. to help the city improve the election process -
those, officially, were the Review's two purposes. Officially the review was not intended to support the public's right to know what was going on.

Over fall and early winter, the Aftergood scandal festered and festered more. Separately the police investigated the Aftergoods. Danielson and Liberal lawyer Darryl Friedhandler collected evidence of vote fraud. Last Monday Danielson and Friedhandler were ready and able to haul the Aftergoods before Judge Martin's Judicial Review - and to lay bare all kinds of juicy facts. That morning, on the courthouse steps, the desperate Tories and the desperate Aftergoods corralled City Hall bureaucrats. Dave Aftergood talked the bureaucrats into agreeing to a deal (even though City Council hadn't given the bureaucrats permission to deal with the Aftergoods or the Tories). Under the deal, Margo Aftergood agreed to resign, the City agreed to shut down the judicial review. The bureaucrats and the Aftergoods applied to Judge Martin to quit his Review. Since Margo had resigned and the city wanted to quit, the Judicial Review served no official purpose and Judge Martin had to find on November 30 that he had no choice - he had to stop the judicial review. But what about the public's right to know? Martin protested on November 29:

Does the community not have the right to know? ... Why would the city want to bring closure [to the Aftergood Judicial Review]. I am very, very uncomfortable with the steps the city has taken.
Martin reminded the Eye Opener of Judge John Sirica the gutsy judge who stuck his neck out in the Watergate scandal in 1973 - were it not for Sirica Richard Nixon would have got away with Watergate. Judge Martin took the extra step of writing directly to Alberta Justice Minister Ron Stevens. Using the strongest language, Martin asked for a public inquiry under the Alberta Public Inquiries Act:
[I have heard] allegations of serious attempts to corrupt the electoral process ... It is only these matters which concern me now and which, in my opinion, cannot simply be left to smoulder on the court file without further inquiry.

Last week long-time Aftergood enemy Alderman Druh Farrell demanded that City Council also ask Ron Stevens to call a public inquiry. All Farrell's fellow aldermen except Dale Hodges, Gord Lowe, Craig Burrows and Mayor Dave Bronconnier supported her. City Hall bureaucrats talked Bronconnier into strongly and loudly opposing Farrell. Many Calgarians suspected Bronconnier of plotting with Aftergood.

Farrell has never received more emails and phone calls from Calgarians than she has over "Aftergate". Almost all demanded a public inquiry. And angry Albertans phoned and emailed Hodges, Lowe, Burrows and Bronconnier too. On Monday the always political Bronconnier had to tell the bureaucrats he had to retreat. He would support Druh Farrel's resolution. On Monday morning City Council passed the resolution and sent it off to Stevens.

Justice Minister Stevens and Municipal Affairs Minister Rob Renner of Medicine Hat are both highly skilled, honest trial lawyers. Both favour a public inquiry. To protect Pham from whatever demons haunt him, Rod Love, who controls Premier Ralph Klein, is hedging. Revolution, though, is in the air. Love will soon have to go along with a public inquiry.

Now public cynicism has lapped over Tory patronage and Tory political excess. After Rod Love returned to government in late October, he quickly appointed former energy minister Murray Smith to a plush $450,000 a year trade commissioner's job in Washington D.C. Love recreated the job specially for Smith - Smith had shut down the Washington trade commission in 1993 - because it made no economic sense, Smith said. And Love appointed former MLA Marlene Graham as a $193,000 a year provincial court judge. Angry emails and phone calls poured in. The Calgary Herald accused Smith and Graham of "double-dipping" on their severance pay packages (Smith for $360,000, Graham for $170,000). The ruckus persuaded Smith to back off for the time being. At press time Graham is refusing to back off. Probably Love will talk her into it.

The virus of revolutionary anti-Tory cynicism is spreading. This week Klein blurted out that Love wanted to pay Alberta's "senators in waiting" (all Tories or extreme right-wingers) a political style salary - for nothing more than sitting on their hands and waiting for Prime Minister Paul Martin to appoint them real senators. "It'll never happen," said Martin. More angry emails and phone calls started flooding in. Love and the wannabe senators backed off.

Why, in three short weeks, have Albertans turned on the Klein government? During the election campaign, Liberal Leader Kevin Taft trotted out a Heinz 57 of anti-government and small-l liberal promises. Albertans have notoriously short attention spans and Taft never focused on just one or two issues - for example, corruption and the benefits of a strong opposition (see "The Alberta Election - It's all about Opposition, Stupid") . The Alliance Party hired U.S. spin-doctors. The spin-doctors quickly hit and hit again on the corruption issue on the Alberta Alliance website, in advertising and through a word-of-mouth whisper campaign. The whisper campaign didn't really spread until after the election. Then it didn't stop spreading. More and more, in bars and churches and service clubs from Peace River to Fort McLeod, the Old Timer from Pincher Creek hears rural rednecks railing against Tory corruption - "So and so got an untendered contract ... such and such an MLA or cabinet minister stacked his or her nomination meeting with Hutterites or Natives ... the meat packers and the insurance companies have the Tories in their back pockets". If the November 22 election was held today, the Tories would lose 10 seats in rural Alberta.

And, after the Nov 22 election, Liberal leader Taft started focusing his attacks effectively. When Rod Love came back to work as Klein's Chief of Staff, Taft (and the Alliance-friendly Calgary Herald) laid into Love's conflicts of interest. Albertans listened.

The Eye Opener predicts that this revolutionary malaise will fester and fester and fester throughout the land. The man from TransAlta, Jim Dinning, will take over the Tory Party but the malaise will continue. It will boil over just about the time of Alberta's next election. The malaise will consume the Tories. The Liberals will not benefit - five generations of Albertans must live and die before most of their descendents vote for a party called "Liberal" - because give-um-the-finger, Edmonton-hating Pierre Trudeau, the father of the National Energy Program, was a "Liberal" (see the Liberal Party needs a new name). The Alliance will not benefit - Alberta's city folk want nothing to do with the Alliance and its busybody-back-to-the-Biblism. The Eye Opener predicts a new party, fuelled by politicians in local government, fuelled by democracy wafting over the mountains from B.C. (through B.C.'s Citizens' Assembly) with visions of fixed election dates and multiple-choice ballots (single transferable votes or STVs). The Liberals and the Alliance will have prepared the way but like 1921 and 1935, like a prairie fire, a new party will spring up and throw the rascals (Tories, Liberals and Alliance) out.

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The Calgary Eye Opener
Friday, December 03, 2004

Conflicts of interest with a Romanov touch- the return of Chief of Staff Rod Love

"Take a conflict of interest and exploit it."
E.P. Taylor and Bud McDougall, Conrad Black's mentors

Mustachioed Rod Love, the great and good friend of Big Mike Lobsinger (for details of the Love/Lobsinger relationship click here) came back home to government last week. Love had been Chump Premier Ralph Klein's puppet master from 1980 to 1998. From 1992 to 1998 he ran Klein's office as Chief of Staff (see our earlier stories on Love: Rod Love - Where are you when we need you?; --- "Severely normal" - Rod Love's words come back to haunt him

Love had quit the Premier's Office in 1998 to make some money in conflict of interest mongering that's called "lobbying" in SpinSpeak and "strategic consulting" in SuperSpinSpeak. Soon Trans Alta, the Southern Alberta utility monopoly started paying Love big fees to lobby for them with the Alberta Government(we don't know how much TransAlta paid Love - TransAlta and Love can keep that secret even though the fees are passed on to Alberta electricity consumers) . At the same time the Alberta Government paid Love $129,000 in 2003 (and $102,000 in 2002) to tell them, among other things, how to deal with TransAlta. That's called a conflict of interest. And many more high-flyers paid Love to prostitute his services. But we don't know who they are - unlike Ontario and Quebec and B.C. and New Brunswick and, even Ottawa, Alberta doesn't require lobbyists to register.

We estimate that Love has raked in over $500,000 a year from his conflicts of interest since he left government. Love has always loved spending money but if the government changes four years from now the money won't be there any more - Love may have to apply for AISCH. The government can only pay Love $150,000 per year as Klein's Chief of Staff. Why would he come back to the government?

When interviewed last Wednesday, after Klein's government lost some seats in November 22's Alberta Election Love blathered:

When Ralph Klein asks, I generally say yes, no matter what it is.
That's just more of Love's spin-doctoring, also known as lying professionally. The Tories will boot Chump Klein out soon, with or without Love. The truth is TransAlta wants Love to work right in the center of government; wants him to use all the power he can muster to elect their main lobbyist, TransAlta vice-president Jim Dinning, as leader of the Alberta Tory Party and as Alberta Premier. We don't know how TransAlta is paying Love - maybe they've given him shares in TransAlta.

There may be even more to it than that. We suspect TransAlta's not the only one who wants Love scheming away in the Premier's Office. Someone's been influence-peddling for the private health care and insurance (he with the most money gets the most health care) mongering industry. Rod Love slapped Quebecers on the back for setting up a private emergency clinic. Love has called the Canada Health Act a "relic". The care mongers want a two-tier system of health care before Klein leaves office. Could it be that health-care-mongers like Calgary's private Grace Hospital and Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company with its American HMO subsidiary Great-West Healthcare Holdings, Inc. have paid Love big fees, maybe even given him shares in their companies. We don't know because, again, lobbyists like Love don't have to register in Alberta. We do know that, at the same time as Love came home as Chief of Staff, the Klein government kicked bright, no-nonsense Gary Mar out of his position as Health Minister. Into Mar's place, the Klein government put touchy-feely, politically correct, not-so-bright, easily-pushed-around, former Social Services Minister Iris Evans.

Rod Love
Throughout his career Rod Love has fashioned himself on Hy's Steak House's infamous eccentric Maitre'd, Count Michel (he claimed to be a grand nephew to Russia's Tsar Nicholas II) Romanov. Romanov sported a huge mustache and Romanov was colourfully arrogant. Romanov, a bit of a Count NoCount, loved living high off the hog but hated paying bills. Count Romanov intimidated and conned big tips out of his customers. And the Count loved politics.

In 1980 the Romanov mustachioed Love, looking like a Tsarist Russian General got himself a waiter's job at the Keg and Kleaver Restaurant on 5th Street in Calgary's Beltline. That year Ralph Klein, former press agent for the United Way, TV reporter for CFCN, set up a headquarters a few blocks from the Keg and ran for Mayor of Calgary. Klein's fellow reporters and his boss thought Klein was a joke but one day Love wandered into a drunken Klein's campaign headquarters and offered his services. Love started out as Klein's driver but he soon scrambled his way to the top of Klein's tiny, disorganized campaign team. And his Romanoff approach worked. Love got Klein elected mayor. Love became Klein's Executive Assistant. Love got Klein into provincial politics - became Klein's Chief of Staff when the Tories elected Klein leader and Premier.

Rod Love and big Mike Lobsinger
300-pound Big Mike Lobsinger was a shady stock promoter when Love met him in 1993. His company Multi-Corp was trading at 15 cents per share on the old Alberta Stock Exchange. Love had Big Mike give large numbers of Multi-Corp shares to his wife, Charlene, and Klein's wife, Colleen, free. Premier Klein and Chief of Staff Rod Love then went out and used Klein's position to promote the stock - drove it up to $3.00 a share. But two years later, in 1995, a Liberal Party sleuth found out about the corruption at Multi-Corp. Klein nearly lost his job and, perhaps, his liberty.

After the scandal blew over Big Mike renamed Multi-Corp "Zi Corp." Big Mike still bosses Multi/Zi Corp. A reader of "Multi/Zi Corp's Annual Report has to shovel through layers of cow droppings before discovering Multi/Zi has lost scads of money ever since Big Mike took it over in 1991; has never made a profit. But, somehow, someone or some company or some government somewhere has kept buying Zi Corp stock (today it's trading on the TSX and NASDAQ at Canadian $3.75 per share). And, in 2001, Big Mike appointed Rod Love to Multi/Zi-Corp's board of directors. Big Mike may have paid Love up to $166,000 in consulting fees in 2003 (see page 14 of Multi/Zi Corp's Annual Report) and likely has given Love shares in the company.

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The Calgary Eye Opener
Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Yesterday's Alberta Election - The Liberal Party needs a new name

The Eye Opener underestimated how much so many Albertans hate the word "Liberal". That's why we did such a lousy job of forecasting yesterday's election (we predicted a minority government - dead wrong by 21 seats).

To our god, Agnosticus, we pray that we'll survive. The Literary Digest didn't survive in 1936 when it predicted Republican Alf Landon would beat Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But, on election night 1948, the Chicago Tribune printed a huge headline, "Dewey defeats Truman". Next day every other American newspaper except the Tribune printed a picture of President Harry S. Truman, having beaten Republican Thomas Dewey, holding up a copy of the Tribune (for details and the photo, click here - be sure you scroll down to the story). But the Tribune survived.

What last night's election results tell us is that the "Liberal Party of Alberta" has reached the end of its tether. The Liberals have little more than gained back the 8 seats Nancy (Barbie Doll) McBeth lost them in the 2001 election. Only city folks (mainly in the North) elected Liberals. Edmontonians and less than a third of Calgarians and the academic and bureaucratic community in East Lethbridge voted or will ever vote Liberal in large numbers. Tory organizers failed to get their supporters out to the polls - 1/3 fewer Tories voted in 2004 than voted in 2001 (630,000 Albertans voted Tory in 2001, only 420,000 in 2004) - we suspect that Dr. Steve West, the author of 2000's utility deregulation, was the author of the Tories' 2004 vote delivery disaster. But that didn't matter much because most of the rural and Calgary seats that elected Tories voted them in with majorities of over 50%, many over 60%, Dr. Lyle Oberg won 65.5% of the votes in Strathmore-Brooks. The Tories and Alliance took over 85% of the vote in Vermilion-Lloydminster. Cindy Ady won 64% of the vote in Calgary-Shaw. Many Calgarians and most rural Albertans hate the sound of the word "Liberal"; hated Trudeau and Chretien and will never forget the National Energy Program.

"The concise answer," says University of Alberta Social Scientist Dr. Lois Harder, "is that the Liberal Party needs to change its name. Seriously ... The message in all of this is that policies don't matter so much as perception, and the perception of the term 'Liberal' in Alberta is unsalvageable. If the Alberta Liberals really want to provide a credible, vote-gaining alternative, a re-branding is in order."

That done, the re-branded Liberals, in our view, must sweep all the left-leaning policy cobwebs from the mind of leader Kevin Taft, teach him how to lower his voice and tell Albertans about things they can see, hear, touch and smell - to forget ivory towers and statements laced with ifs and buts. And to put democracy versus the arrogance of power on the front burner - call for fixed election dates; checks and balances; a new voting system like the B.C.'s Citizens' Assembly's single transferable vote ( STV ) and reform of lobbying and corporate political donations.

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The Calgary Eye Opener
Friday, November 19, 2004

The Alberta Election - It's all about Opposition, Stupid

What's the best-kept secret issue of the November 22 Alberta Election Campaign?

It looks like Alberta's main opposition Liberal Party slapped together a "round table" of high party pooh-bahs, hired somebody's brother-in-law as a touchy-feely "facilitator" fully equipped with white boards, flip charts and stickums. It looks like the facilitator let everyone choose one favourite issue. It looks like the whole bunch of them then slapped the issues together in a gooey, fatigue-inducing, murky mass. Liberal Leader Professor Kevin Taft, closed his eyes, stuck his hand in the goo and pulled out one issue each day. Professor Taft never favoured one issue over another - to the good professor, all issues are equal - it wouldn't be fair, it wouldn't be polite to favour one pooh-bah over another - it would be outright judgemental. Out of the goo, Taft pulled:

  • Makeover Mount Royal College into Mount Royal University - probably Professor Taft's favourite issue. Right at the start, the makeover will cost $15 million and, each year after that, running Mount Royal University will cost $7 million more than running Mount Royal College. Many able students can't go to college - they can't afford to pay college fees. Professor Taft couldn't find a worse issue. And Mount Royal has just fouled it's nest - it secretly paid some of its spin doctors and bureaucrats $50,000 bonuses and obscene salary increases.
  • Commit 5% of annual budget surplus to an endowment fund for the humanities, social sciences and art ... " 95% of Albertans don't know what an "endowment fund" is and care not a whit about the humanities, social sciences and art - Prof, at election time pay attention to politics not arts funding.
  • Create a provincial smoking reduction strategy but not a province-wide smoking ban - how mealy mouthed can you get?
Mixed up in all this goo, buried deep in the morass, were the following good ideas:
  • Give local governments real powers by changing the Alberta Act (Alberta's Constitution)
  • Stop making Albertans pay health care premiums
  • Provide water, roads and land for new meat-packing plants
  • Put 35% of annual budget surpluses in a fund for universities
  • and, buried and obscured right in the middle of the morass - Initiate democratic reform with fixed election dates

Guess what though, Prof, in Alberta bars and coffee rows and around Alberta water coolers, all these promises mean absolutely nothing. If they think they risk electing a Liberal government, most people won't vote for you. You're a Liberal, Prof, you're of the Party of Trudeau, and of the Party of Chretien and of the Party of the National Energy Program. Outside Calgary and Edmonton the Alberta Alliance Party is more popular than you Liberals are. So all the policies and issues you've pulled out of your round table are totally beside the point.

The NDP, the party that would kill the Goose that laid the Golden Egg, wants to raise oil and gas royalties. Enough said, voters have seen how the NDP killed the Goose in B.C. and Saskatchewan, how tens of thousands lost jobs and how clouds of despair shrouded both provinces. Even in Edmonton, the NDP ranks third; in Calgary, lots more people support the Green Party than support the NDP; in the rest of Alberta, twice as many people support the Alliance as support the NDP. Anything the NDP promises to do is totally beside the point.

Should the Liberals and the NDP just roll over and die? No. Our esteemed reporter, the Old Timer from Pincher Creek hangs around bars and coffee rows and water coolers all over the province. Here's what the Old Timer is hearing:

  1. Former nice-guy chump premier Ralph Klein has become "an ..." - we still can't use the word a lot of the folks use ... anyway Martha and Henry and Solomon Grundy think Ralph's become arrogant:
    • One cold winter night three years ago he, verbally beat; verbally kicked and verbally urinated upon all of the unfortunates (there but for the grace of God, went him) huddled into an Edmonton homeless shelter for the night.
    • Last spring when Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman asked him to produce receipts to support his expense account, Ralph tried to, verbally, shove and bully his way out of producing the receipts.
    • He stormed out of a public health care meeting with Prime Minister Paul Martin and all the other Premiers in September and headed over to an Ottawa Casino to play the night away - actually the health care meeting was being broadcast on TV and Klein was dodging the TV cameras - the Prime Minister and other Premiers would have shown him up for what he is - a dunce - on TV (see The Emperor has no clothes?).
    • He threatened another set of disabled people (30,000 of them) with cutting off their $850 per month government subsistence payments if they criticized him.
    • In a televised debate with Taft and NDP leader Brian Mason on November 8, he avoided eye contact; hunkered down on a dunce's stool; chewed candies; refused to deal with issues and bragged as to how he was more popular than they were.
    • He refused to tell Albertans what he planned for health care.
    • He refused to share with Albertans the amount of Alberta's current budget surplus.
    • He is surrounded by body guards and spin doctors and he hides away in private rooms ordinary Albertans can't enter
  2. The Old Timer estimates that a big percentage of the Albertans he talked to want to know more about what's going on:
    • 81% believe that the Tory government has a hidden health care agenda.
    • According to the Tories own public opinion polls (paid for by Alberta taxpayers) most Albertans want government auto insurance if it will lower their insurance premiums - the Tories have turned a blind ear to Alberta taxpayers and won't release the public opinion polls.
    • The Tories have taken away the power of local people to elect their own health boards and have fired health board staff who disagree with them.
    • Alberta is the wealthiest province in Canada but Albertans have to pay extra fees to educate their children in Alberta's schools - the Tories won't discuss the matter.

"Well," the Old Timer, has asked the people he meets in bars and coffee rows and around water coolers up and down the roads of Alberta, "are you saying Ralph has gone beyond his Expiry Date?"

"Yeah, we'll have to agree on that," say 95% of them. "But Ralph's retiring right after the election. And the Tory Party - why quarrel with success. If Ralph's leaving, we'll still vote Tory."

"Well, how about a stronger opposition?" asks the Old Timer.

"Yeah, that's what we need. Ralph would have stayed a nice guy if he'd had a stronger opposition," answer the 95%.

A few weeks ago, to help with their election campaign, the Alberta Alliance Party brought in a gang of right wing nightriders (aka election strategists) called Campaign Secrets Inc. from the U.S. In an instant, Mark Montini, Campaign Secret's president spotted the issue that will draw blood and plenty of it - A Stronger Opposition.

Properly exploited, the issue of Stronger Opposition could produce a minority government - that's about as far as the opposition parties could go. But a minority government would destroy Ralph Klein - unprotected by a majority government, Ralph simply doesn't have the mental ability to withstand the questions and taunts and challenges of the opposition parties in the legislature. A minority government would likely destroy the Tory party itself by exposing its rotten underside - legislative committees, no longer controlled by the Tories, would soon drag out of the sewers of Ralph's World the Big Mike Lobsingers, the meat packers, the health care mongers, the utility company peccadilloes, and on and on.

The Liberals should have focused the campaign on only one issue - Stronger Opposition. The Liberals and the NDP should have planned a "strategic voting campaign". Here's how it would work:

  • In Edmonton and Calgary and small city seats -
    • if the Liberals are strong in a seat, get NDP voters to vote Liberal
    • if the NDP are strong, get Liberal voters to vote NDP.
  • In most rural seats, get voters to vote Alliance - the Alliance will never move into the cities any way.
And the Opposition should have pushed fixed election dates (the Liberals did raise the issue of fixed election dates but buried and obscured in all the goo) and a system of checks and balances built right into Alberta's Constitution.

But, of course, the Liberals were too busy having meetings and working with facilitators and being polite. And the NDP were too busy planning how to kill the Golden Goose. Is all lost? It would be if it weren't for Ralph the Chump. On Tuesday the now unpopular Klein, grabbed a reporter's notebook and wrote the following pledge in it:

"I will stay three-and-three-quarters years [after the election]
................. Ralph"

And overheard in the bars and on coffee rows and around the water cooler:

"Well, now, dammit, he's not leaving. We sure do need a stronger opposition."

Ralph may have yukkered himself one too many times.

Big Mike Lobsinger

In 1995 Rod Love, Klein's Dr. Frankenstein, introduced Ralph and Colleen Klein to Mike Lobsinger, a shady hustler out of Grant Devine's corrupt Saskatchewan regime. Lobsinger issued Colleen shares in Lobsinger's public company, Multi-Corp. Colleen paid nothing. Colleen stood to make a lot of money out of the transaction but the public unearthed the scam. Colleen had to give up her shares and, when all was said and done, neither Klein nor Colleen was any more financially secure. Lobsinger raised a lot of money on the Klein connection and still hangs around Calgary and remains, to this day, Chairman of Multi-Corp. (renamed it "Zi Corp"). Despite consistent and large losses, Zi Corp's shares continue to trade on the NASDQ stock exchange. Somehow or other, someone has kept the shares up.

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The Calgary Eye Opener
Friday, November 12, 2004

The Alberta Leaders' Debate - It's time for Political Smarts

Liberal leader Kevin Taft or NDP leader Brian Mason would have won Monday's election debate - in a university-debating contest. Ralph Chump Klein hunched down in a chair, chewing away at Fisherman's Friend cough lozenges (although he didn't have a cold) - made eye contact with no one - answered no questions - proposed no plans - every Albertan should have been ashamed of him. But Taft and Mason pretended they expected to be elected as a government. And that scared Albertans. Albertans have lots of jobs, are living it up and partying it up - no one wants to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. Particularly when a university professor like Taft and a socialist like Mason are waiting in the wings.

Up till now Albertans have always viewed "Ralph" as an ordinary, nice guy. Under the tutelage and companionship of Steve (the "Snarl") West, in the fall of 2004, Klein comes across as ... well, we won't say it. And as arrogant. Albertans are whispering that Ralph has been there too long. And why isn't Ralph a little more answerable? Ralph needs more opposition. Join the dots, Kevin and Brian. Propagandize voting for more opposition. Get your supporters to vote strategically. You might get a minority government. You might even win. That's how Diefenbaker won in 1957.

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The Calgary Eye Opener
Friday, November 12, 2004

Calgary Mountain View - Irate Eye Opener Editor fires incompetent reporter

"Yourrre firrrred, Misterrr Mole," screamed Eye Opener Editor Bob Edwards last Saturday morning.

"But Sir, don't I get a second chance? Why last summer right-listing columinist Elizabeth Nickson stole a story from the right-of-wing Insight on the News and published it, as her own story, in the National Post. The National Post gave her a second chance."

"Yeah but last Friday, they discovered she'd done it before - back in '02 - Liz had filched a story out of the right-wing National Review and they firrred her (see, the Globe and Mail of last Saturday, October 6). The Poost'd have saved a lot a time by firing her first time around. Back in March of '02 Liz described filchin' other people's material as 'stealing'. Nooo my boy - you'rrre spoiled goods - there's no place for ya to go but Spin Medicine - Puublic Relations. Ya might even become Premierrr of Alberrrta."

"Yes sir but I wasn't even crooked - I was just negligent."

"You mean stupid - the worst of all sins."

"Well the greatest of them all, the New York Times - ' All The News That's Fit to Print ' - Why the Times treated Jayson Blair a lot better than you're treating me. Yes, back in April '02 they had a redneck editor by the name of Jonathan Landman. He suspected Blair of making up stories. He was as trigger happy as you are. Landman went right to the Times' head honchos and told them:'We have to stop Jayson from writing for the Times. Right now.' The Times believes in giving a newsperson a second chance. They promoted him. Didn't fire him for over a year."

"Well, they were not only being stupid, they werrre bein' politically currrrrect (Blair is a black). And everybody had egg on their face. Here's what Condace Pressley, President of the National Association of Black Journalists, had to say:

There is no room in our profession for those who betray both their fellow journalists and the readers and viewers they serve.
And that's the standard werrre holdin' to at the Eye Opener. Go werk for an ad agency - yerrr damaged goods, boy."

Dear reader, you will ask what did former Eye Opener reporter Rob Mole do to lose his $850 per month salary. Go to the Eye Opener of last Friday and there you will see The November 22 election - a real possibility - what Alberta needs - a minority government in Alberta In that story you will find the following, contributed by reporter Mole:

[The Tories] will retain all but two Calgary seats - Calgary Buffalo, Sheldon Chumir's old seat - Calgary Buffalo voted Liberal until the last election; and Calgary Mountain View where well known talk show host Dave Taylor is running against lightweight, Aftergood scarred Mark Hlady.

And based on Mole's information we predicted the Tories would fail to win a majority government on November 22. The Tories need 42 seats to win a majority. As we brilliantly demonstrated, if they lost Mountain View, the Tories would get only 41 seats.

Rob Mole is right about Hlady. Hlady is a serious lightweight, the Aftergoods scarred him badly. Mole lost his high paid job because he told us that left-wing-high-profile talk-show host Dave Taylor was running in Calgary Mountainview, a seat close to downtown invaded by hoards of yuppies (many of the left-leaning variety). He's not. Taylor's running in Calgary Curry. Calgary Curry includes Mount Royal - more big shots live in Calgary Curry than gophers live in Nose Hill Park. Calgary Currians know who butters their bread and it isn't Liberal lefties. The Tories could run Mortimer Snerd and still win. Taylor doesn't stand a chance in Calgary Curry.

How about Calgary-Mountain View? We still project a Liberal win. In 2002 Mountain View's Liberal Candidate, Dr. David Swann, was the medical health officer for the Tory puppet board of South Eastern Alberta's Palliser Health Region. Swann spoke out for the Kyoto Accord. The Tories handed Swann lots of media glitz by firing Swann then having to offer to rehire him (click here for details). Swann generated even more glitz by loudly attacking the Iraq war. High profile Swann will beat Hlady; the Tories will get only 41 seats (42 needed for a majority government). We will have Alberta's first minority government.

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The Calgary Eye Opener
Friday, November 05, 2004

The November 22 election - a real possibility - what Alberta needs - a minority government in Alberta

Canadian voters did themselves a real favour last June 28 by electing a minority government. Without a minority government, wouldn't Andre Ouellet still be feeding at the trough inside the Post Office? Wouldn't Paul Martin have appointed high-living, high-spending Liberal Governor General Adrienne Clarkson to five more years of high living and heavy spending instead of just one? When the APEC Inquiry's Judge Ted Hughes got too close to Jean Chretien, Chretien shut the inquiry down. Can Paul Martin do the same thing with the Gomery Adscam Inquiry? Not under a minority government.

Under a minority government, have the opposition parties stifled and filibustered? No - a minority government has given opposition parties and those who elected them a real voice in government. Even Quebec separatists feel included. And MPs are bringing real issues that their constituents care about to the fore.

We hope Alberta voters will elect a minority government, too - perhaps they will. The Klein government never expected to hit rough weather in the November 22 election campaign. But they have:

  • For the last four years Klein or whoever writes his script has trumpeted radical health care changes - nothing has happened. Albertans suspect a secret agenda - that the Klein government will deregulate and privatize health care after the election. They remember Doctor of Veterinary Science Steve West's disastrous deregulation of Alberta's utilities - they don't want a repeat on health care - they don't want the likes of Big Mike Lobsinger and Jim Saunders helping themselves to big pieces of the health care pie. The Alberta Alliance is asking questions through a very professional website (to see it click here).
  • College students and professors and instructors suspect Klein, a high-school drop-out, just doesn't like them - and is sucking them dry with higher fees and lower standards, just out of spite - their families and their friends and their friends' friends can't see why oil and gas royalties shouldn't provide qualified students with a free education. The students and professors and instructors are spending $40,000 on an advertising campaign.
  • 10 years ago the Klein government promised Alberta's turf-protecting bureaucrats they'd never have to share oil and gas revenues with local governments. Now, both city folks and country folks are tired of potholes and traffic jams and of being stripped naked by property taxes (see our story of October 1).
  • In Calgary's Ward 10, the Aftergood Affair is leaving a bad taste - giving the Tories a black eye.
  • Edmontonians see Calgarian Klein as giving Calgary more goodies than Edmonton.
Liberal leader Kevin Taft, a squeaky voiced U of A professor, doesn't deserve to win seats but will, despite himself. The Tories aren't fighting the Liberals - they're fighting themselves and the Alberta Alliance.

You can have a look at 2001 election results and get more information on the 2004 elections at the following websites:

This year the Tories may lose all their seats in Edmonton. They will retain all but two Calgary seats - Calgary Buffalo, Sheldon Chumir's old seat - Calgary Buffalo voted Liberal until the last election; and Calgary Mountainview where well known talk show host Dave Taylor is running against lightweight, Aftergood scarred Mark Hlady. The Tories and the Alliance will take all Alberta's rural and isolated seats - except five seats near Edmonton. In 2001 the Tories didn't win their seats in small cities like Red Deer, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat by big majorities (they did do well in Fort McMurray). We see 14 of those 20 seats going to the Liberals - the Tories should have shared provincial oil and gas revenues with local governments.

What does that produce?
Political Party
Small Cities
Rural and Isolated

A minority government.

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The Calgary Eye Opener
Friday, October 29, 2004

"Severely normal" - Rod Love's words come back to haunt him

Ten years ago Chump Ralph Klein's head spin doctor Rod Love (see Rod Love - Where are you when we need you?) invented the term "severely normal". Love programmed the Chump to use the term at every opportunity. It was an unwise move - in the long run. Six years ago, Love went on to exploit richer conflicts of interest. This year Steve (the "Snarl") West took over as Chump Ralph's chief handler and programmed the Chump with a meaner message. On Wednesday the Chump attacked two handicapped women (in Ralphspeak "gals") who heckled Ralph (in Ralphspeak "yipped away at me"). The women received $850 per month from Alberta's Spartan AISH (Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped) program. Ralph accused the two of smoking cigarettes and wearing cowboy hats and faking their disabilities. Ralph himself loves chain-smoking cigarettes (in the privacy of his taxpayer-paid Grumman Gulfstream jet). And Ralph wears cowboy hats often and proudly - after all to quote the Tory campaign slogan - he's "A Proud Albertan". The Chump has not managed to fake any kind of intelligence. Leaders of disabled support groups and disabled people and their families lashed out. But on Thursday the Chump ignored the AISH ruckus - told a Grande Prairie audience he knew they weren't interested in AISH - why his audience were, in Rod Love's words, "severely normal" - why would a "severely normal" audience be interested in AISH?

Even Peter Portlock, the Executive Director of the Alberta Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, which values the good offices of the Klein Tories, lashed out at Klein (Portlock accused Klein of hiding Klein's own disabilities) and so did every non-profit charity for disabled Albertans. 31,000 disabled Albertans receive AISH and now they, and their families, are being attacked because two AISH recipients heckled the Tories. There is a sea change in Alberta. In every Alberta pub, in every Alberta coffee shop at every Alberta water cooler, Albertans are telling each other that it's time for the Chump to go. Are the Tories going to be reelected? Rumours have it that Love's buddy, Big Mike Lobsinger, is looking at moving to Libya or Palestine or Zimbabwe.

And how about the possibility of a minority government?

AISH - Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped
  • The Lougheed Government set AISH up in 1979 to add to the incomes of severely handicapped Albertans.
  • Today the government pays 45% of AISH to physically disabled Albertans and 32% to mentally disabled Albertans.
  • The most anyone gets is $850 per month (the Tories have only increased that 5% in the last 12 years). They also get free health care, drugs, dental work and glasses.
  • Albertans can't get AISH unless their disability seriously cuts down their ability to earn a living. Family doctors decide who qualifies.
  • If an Albertan is getting paid by some other income replacement plan for example a federal government plan, their AISH payment is reduced accordingly. AISH ends at age 65 because Albertans are then getting an Old Age Pension.
  • An Alberta can work and get AISH and their spouse may work but then the government will reduce the amount of AISH payments.
  • If you own property, other than a home and car, worth more than $100,000, you can't get AISH.
  • 31,600 Albertans get AISH, but as of last Wednesday, the government will not pay AISH to Albertans who heckle Chump Klein.
  • You can get more information about AISH at the government's AISH website

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The Calgary Eye Opener
Friday, October 22, 2004

The Aftergood Affair - Tory fixer's moll stirs up stink in Ward 10

"Let's neutralize the son of a bitch," slurred a drunken senior Tory spin-doctor at the province's big Stampede party at McDougall School.

"Right on," slurred back a staggering senior provincial bureaucrat.

In early July Calgary's cheeky mayor Dave Bronconnier had demanded that the Tory government share its oil and gas revenues with local governments. We predicted on July 19 and October 1 that the Tories must overrule provincial bureaucrats and give local governments a decent share of provincial revenues. Otherwise local politicians will pretty soon bring down the Tories. Despite our warnings, shortly after Stampede, that Tory spin-doctor and that senior bureaucrat did set up a plan to neutralize Bronconnier. The plotters would stack Calgary City Council with Tory hacks. The hacks would outvote Bronconnier on City Council. But their plan was half-measured. And, as they say in Alcoholics Anonymous, "half measures avail nothing".

The plan was poorly executed. As an old military proverb has it: "there's nothing worse than a poor plan, poorly executed". In the end only three Tory hacks filed nomination papers. In last Monday's election Jim Stevenson in Ward 3 and Alan Chamberlain in Ward 8 struck out miserably. Margo Aftergood won in Ward 10 but left such a god-awful stink in her wake that most Calgarians suspect, strongly, that "something is rotten in the State of Denmark".

The Tory twosome put Margo Aftergood's husband, David Aftergood, in charge of her campaign. David Aftergood is a notorious, fumble-bumming Tory fixer of take-no-prisoner nomination battles in North East Calgary. Aftergood prides himself on his connections with immigrant groups, stacks meetings with their members. He himself has connections with internet lotteries run by the corrupt Vietnamese government in Hanoi. Last summer one Gus Barron wanted to challenge sitting MLA and Vietnamese immigrant Hung Pham for the Tory nomination in Calgary Montrose. Aftergood arbitrarily kicked Gus Barron out of the race - a judge forced Aftergood to allow Barron to run (Aftergood stacked the nomination meeting and Pham easily defeated Barron). In Calgary Mountainview, to help MLA Mark Hlady get nominated, Aftergood kicked would-be challenger Val McLean out of the Tory nomination race. McLean threatened to sue. Aftergood backed off, called a new nomination meeting but gave McLean the wrong address for the meeting. Hlady was nominated before McLean found the meeting place.

Aftergood and Margot live in swanky close-to-downtown Rosedale. Rosedale is located in Calgary's Ward 7. In 2001 Aftergood ran Margot in Ward 7. But Ward 7's heavy yuppie population voted for yuppie's yuppie Druh Farrel and Farrel whipped Margot. Even David Aftergood was smart enough not to run Margot against Farrel again. So this year Aftergood looked around for another Ward. Many of the immigrants Aftergood used to stack nomination meetings lived in Forest Lawn. Diane Danielson, the sitting alderman in Forest Lawn's Ward 10, was ineffective - Forest Lawn, far to the East of Ward 7 was a have-not ward (for a comparison of Forest Lawn with Elbow Park, see our May 31 story Noblesse Abuse - Some Calgarians are more equal than others). Aftergood decided to run Margot as a carpetbagger candidate in Ward 10.

The Tories have just given voters in local elections the right to vote by mail. Voters can ask Calgary's Returning Officer Barb Clifford to mail them a ballot. They can then write their chosen candidate's name on the ballot and seal the ballot in an envelope. They must then swear an affidavit under oath saying they are the person who has filled out the ballot. They must staple the affidavit to the sealed ballot and send it all back to Clifford. Once Clifford receives the ballot she can count their vote.

David Aftergood decided to make mischief with the vote-by-mail process. Margot won the Ward 10 election - who knows, she might have won the election fair and square against the ineffective Danielson. But David Aftergood wasn't content to let democracy take its course. He conned Clifford into sending him 1200 ballots (he may have gotten more). At first, Clifford didn't notice she was sending 1200 ballots to the same address. Soon Aftergood sent back to Clifford 853 sealed ballots (there may have been more) with Margot's name probably written in on most of them and with affidavits attached. Then Clifford noticed that the affidavits were all sworn out before the same commissioner for oaths. She looked further - discovered that she had mailed all 853 ballots to Aftergood. What Aftergood had done, collected ballots for someone else, is illegal under the Alberta Local Authorities Election Act. Clifford rejected all 853 ballots and called the police. The police want to know if each voter actually wrote in the name of their chosen candidate on the ballot Aftergood sent in on their behalf. If some didn't, we're talking serious vote fraud.

On Tuesday the Aftergoods admitted nothing, made themselves scarce. But on Wednesday Margot showed up with high-priced lawyer Brian O'Ferrall of Bennett Jones, the Tories' favourite law firm. O'Ferrall and Margot issued a statement admitting David's mail-in-ballot gambit. But, Margot added, "Let me be very clear, we believe we did nothing wrong except facilitate the voter turnout ... "

"Why would anybody take their seat under this kind of cloud. I wouldn't," said Alderman Gord Low. Most other aldermen agreed. No matter, the Aftergoods and, presumably, the Tories want Margot to sit as an alderman - she's determined and technically she's entitled to sit - just as Dar Heatherington was entitled to sit in Lethbridge. Margot will certainly vote against any attempt by Bronconnier to cut Calgary's taxpayers into provincial revenues. But is one vote on City Council worth all the credibility the Tories have lost with Calgarians, and Albertans? And likely, there'll be a judicial review of Ward 10. Who knows what embarrassing facts will come out there?

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The Calgary Eye Opener
Friday, October 15, 2004

Paying the spin doctor

In the last 3 years, Alberta's Orwellian Health and Wellness department paid consultant Kelley Charlebois $389,000. The department didn't keep any records at all of what Charlebois did for his pay. But it's not hard to imagine what it was - Charlebois is a spin-doctor - his job is to reelect Health Minister Gary Mar, to keep the Klein government in power - by hook or by crook. At the same time, during March and April, the overstaffed, disorganized, dysfunctional Calgary Health Region paid Charlebois $75,000 to do the best he could to distort truth and deflect criticism when the Region carelessly poisoned two patients with unbarcoded potassium chloride and killed them. And the Region continues to pay Charlebois $6,000 per month. For what - to smoke screen the Region's incompetent Chief Executive Officer, friend of Ralph Klein, Jack Davis, and Davis' salary of $520,000 per year? Why, we ask, should Mr. and Ms. Alberta pay Charlebois - let Mar or the Tory Party or Jack Davis pay his salary. Last week Alberta's Auditor General blew the whistle on Charlebois. Yesterday idignant Mr. and Ms. Alberta forced Mar to fire him. But Charlebois is still working for the Calgary Health Region.
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The Calgary Eye Opener
Friday, October 15, 2004

Klein for President?

Last month Ralph Klein (for more of Ralph's adventures, click here) announced he'll be leaving the premiership of Alberta within the next four years. Ralph is not a happy camper - he dreads having his Gulfstream airplane taken away from him - he spends countless hours in the Gulfstream - smoking cigarettes and contemplating the cosmos. Wouldn't Ralph be better off with a bigger job and a bigger plane? How about the big kahuna job - the biggest one there is. Where you're talking not about Gulfstreams but about 747s - Air Force One - the Presidency of the United States. The first chump president since Warren G. Harding. Well, Ralph - the Eye Opener has good news for you - read on: but, mind, there's some pretty complicated legal stuff here - bear with us.

40-year-old Cree Calgarian Cort Gallup has done alot of things, been alot of places. Gallup has won many a ski race; has coached skiers; has studied at the University of Calgary; has sold real estate; has hosted and anchored and produced TV shows; has traveled all over the globe. Seven years ago Gallup settled in the Hawaiian Islands, on the Island of Maui. Soon Gallup was hosting a TV program - that gave him what politicians call "name recognition." Catnip attracts cats - "name recognition" attracts politicians. Local Democrats came calling and Gallup was soon running as the Democratic candidate for South Maui in Hawaii's House of Representatives.

The good old boys in Maui's Republican establishment were plenty upset. They saw Gallup as a carpet bagger, an outsider who would disturb and destroy their island paradise. For the last 10 years they'd managed to get Chris Halford, one of their own, elected as State Representative for South Maui - Gallup was running against him. Halford or "Junior" (he is 53 years old but the son of a legendary Republican organizer) was born and bred in Maui - with a silver spoon in this mouth. While Gallup has wandered the world, Junior has stuck close to home and he's proud of it. It looked like Gallup was going to beat Halford - 870 Democrats voted for Gallup in the Democratic Primary Election - only 847 Republicans voted for Halford in the Republican Primary.

Junior's good old boy network discovered that Calgary-born Gallup had never applied for U.S. citizenship. They sicked their lawyers on him. The lawyers dragged out the Hawaiian State Constitution. It says:

No person shall be eligible to serve as a member of the house of representatives unless the person ... [is a] citizen of the United States.
So get lost, said the lawyers.

So what, countered Gallup. I'm a Cree Indian - way back in 1794, the U.S. and Britain wanted to trade with the Cree. So they signed the Jay Treaty. And the Jay Treaty allowed:

Indians dwelling on either side of the said boundary line (the U.S./Canada border), freely to pass and repass ... into the respective territories and countries of the [U.S. and Canada].
So there, said Gallup. if I can pass and repass into the United States that makes me, automatically, a U.S. citizen - I need not apply for citizenship - I'm already a citizen, automatically.

You're full of baloney said Junior's lawyers. We're suing - they filed suit in a local Hawaiian court.

Last Friday a Hawaiian judge threw Junior's lawyers out of Court - not because Junior's claim was flawed but because Junior had sued in the wrong Court. But, on Wednesday, the good old boys took the battle to the Clerk of Hawaii's House of Representatives. On Wednesday the Clerk ordered Gallup to prove his citizenship by Thursday afternoon. That's where the story stands - very likely there'll be more fighting in the Clerk's office and in the Courts. But there is an even larger issue. Here's the actual wording of the Jay Treaty:

It is agreed that it shall at all times be free to His Majesty's subjects (after 1947, read "citizens of Canada"), and to the citizens of the United States, and also to the Indians dwelling on either side of [what is now the U.S./Canada border], freely to pass and repass by land or inland navigation, into the respective territories and countries of the two parties, on the continent of America, (the country within the limits of the Hudson's Bay Company only excepted.) and to navigate all the lakes, rivers and waters thereof, and freely to carry on trade and commerce with each other.
Cutting through all the legal hooga booga, one thing is clear. If Gallup is right - if the Jay Treaty automatically gives Gallup U.S. citizenship, then the Jay Treaty automatically gives every Canadian U.S. citizenship.

So does that mean that Ralph Klein could be elected President of the United States? No, there's one more hurdle. Reads the Constitution of the United States:

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President ...
California Governor Arnold (the "Terminator") Schwarzenegger and Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm want to change that. The testosterone laden Schwarzenegger makes no secret of the fact that he should be president. And he is determined and tough. Schwarzenegger started out as a 90-pound Austrian weakling. He took up bodybuilding. Through will power, guts and ego he became a world champion body builder, a movie star, the husband of a Kennedy and Governor of the largest state in the Union. A few words in a constitution aren't going to stop the Terminator. So Schwarzenegger rounded up Utah Senator Orrin Hatch and talked Hatch into sponsoring an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment takes the "natural born Citizen" clause out of the Constitution.

Vancouver born Michigan Governor Granholm supports Hatch's resolution. Of course, protested Granholm, "This is not about me. I have no interest, not a whit, in running for president." Sure, Governor, that's what Senator Kerry said three years ago. Why 10 years ago, Governor, President Bush Junior didn't even dream of running - he thought candidates had to pass an IQ test before running.

There may be another way. What if Alberta joined the United States? Calgary would then be part of the U.S. Would Calgary-born Ralph then become a natural born citizen of the United States? Well, Ralph, go out and hire a silver-tongued John Edwards or Paddy Nolan. Ralph, you might just win. And no IQ test required.

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The Calgary Eye Opener
Friday, October 08, 2004

Rod Love - Where are you when we need you?

The chances are 50:50, after September 30's Presidential Debate, that John Kerry will win the presidential election next month. Readers will remember Chump Premier Ralph Klein's "Shot, Shovel and Shut Up" speech last year. The Good Lord knows how many months that trust-busting speech has held up exports of Alberta beef. On Saturday the Chump went on to alienate John Kerry - Klein labeled Kerry a "protectionist". Say what you will, Klein's old spin-doctor Rod Love put the fear of the Lord into Klein and made sure the Chump either read from the Love hymn book or kept his mouth shut. Steve West and Klein's 266 person Public Affairs Bureau haven't done that. And Klein has grown ornery and more incoherent than ever. Readers may recall that, on August 2, we wondered if Klein was back on the booze.

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The Calgary Eye Opener
Friday, October 01, 2004

Local Government - the Tories could still lose November 22 election

Some time ago we predicted that the Alberta Tories will eventually be defeated not by the Alberta Liberal Party (which is not much more than a branch office for the Ottawa-based Liberal Party of Canada) but by local government politicians fed up with living in poverty in the midst of the Alberta Government's riches and waste. We didn't think it would happen right away - it may.

The Waterton gas field pours $28 million each year into the treasury of the Province of Alberta. The Town of Pincher Creek spends about $11.5 million each year providing streets, sewers, water, garbage collection, police, ambulance, fire fighting, recreation to the men and women working in the gas field. The town lives from hand to mouth. It taxes its citizens more than most Alberta towns and charges them extra for water, sewer, garbage collection and recycling. Roads are potholed; some equipment is 30 years old. The Town of Pincher Creek receives not one penny from the gas field. The Alberta Municipal Government Act prohibits local governments from collecting any taxes except property and business taxes from within their boundaries. The Province further restricts property tax revenues by forcing local governments to collect property taxes for education and remit the taxes to the Province (the education property taxes pay a quarter of the cost of educating Albertans).

Calgary entrepreneurs and financiers have put together the deals that have reaped in the Alberta government's huge oil and gas revenues from the Alberta Tar Sands and the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin. Calgarians pay more of Alberta's income and corporation taxes than anyone (income and corporation taxes make up 31% of the Alberta Government's revenues). The City of Calgary gets neither oil and gas revenues nor income taxes - it too lives from hand to mouth from property and business taxes. Its traffic is bottlenecked - it cannot support the huge influx of people flooding into Alberta.

In August it looked like Alberta was $10.5 billion in the black - had a $10.5 billion surplus. The Alberta Government supplies Albertans with inspectors, some highways, some social workers, a few Mounties and a provincial court system. Beyond that it merely collects oil and gas revenues and income and corporation taxes, skims about 25% off for legions of accountants, managers and spin-doctors and pet boondoggles and outright waste then sends the balance off to local boards of education and local health boards. Calgary's Mayor Dave Bronconnier suggested 20% of Alberta's surpluses should go to local governments. But Alberta's hard-wired, turf-jealous provincial bureaucrats oppose any move to provide Alberta local governments with decent tax sources like income taxes, corporation taxes, a share of oil and gas revenues.

Last week the Canada West Foundation reported (Click here to read the report Foundations for Prosperity - Creating a Sustainable Municipal-Provincial Partnership to Meet the Infrastructure Challenge of Alberta's 2nd Century) that local government needed $8 billion to repair Alberta's "infrastructure" - Alberta's roads and transit, equipment, buildings, water and sewage systems. Local governments pay most of the cost of Alberta's infrastructure. The Foundation told the Alberta Government that it could only preserve Alberta's infrastructure by giving more revenues to local governments and abolishing the education property tax. After all, Manitoba and B.C. share income and corporation taxes and gaming revenues with local governments and B.C. shares fuel taxes.

"No way!!!" screamed the bureaucrats. The mentally challenged Klein government fears the provincial bureaucracy - it doesn't think it has the smarts to run the government on its own. On the other hand, the government has an election coming up on November 22 and they don't want municipal politicians loudly complaining about poverty in the midst of plenty. So the Klein government has been caught between a rock and a hard place - between the bureaucrats and local governments.

With the November 22 election coming up, Ralph Klein and Municipal Affairs Minister Guy Boutillier decided to throw local governments a bone. They knew better than to incur the bureaucrats' wrath by offering revenue sharing. They decided to give local governments a grant. Klein and Boutillier told the Calgary Herald on Thursday last week that the government would give local governments $3.3 billion for infrastructure. But they didn't tell the bureaucrats.

"You told them what!!!!" screamed the bureaucrats. So, last Saturday Klein backed off, told reporters in Banff: "There's no money set aside. We recognize there is a problem, certainly. We will continue to work with the mayors of Edmonton, Calgary and [the mayors and reeves of smaller localities] to address their infrastructure needs ... How do we will go about it? I can't say for sure at this particular time." Then he said that the Heritage Trust Fund might loan the $3.3 billion to the local governments.

Ernie Paterson, long-time Liberal, mayor of Claresholm and President of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association and Bob Terlick, the common-sense mayor of Lethbridge raised hell. Patterson pointed out that if Klein was merely offering local governments loans that have to be repaid, as opposed to grants which don't, "we have to generate the money from somewhere ... that won't work for a large number of local governments. When you reach a certain point, you can't borrow anymore." Terlick said Lethbridge didn't want a loan arrangement. "Anything we build, we need a way to pay for it. A loan would be like fool's gold."

If local politicians get mad enough, they'll start running against the Tories in the next provincial election either as Liberals or independents. They'll tell taxpayers that, if they're elected they'll transfer a decent number of taxes to local governments. Governments can turn over very quickly in Alberta - the United Farmers, not even a party, blind-sided the Liberals in 1921 - the Social Credit, which only became a party a week before the 1935 election, blind-sided the United Farmers.

Klein has two options - stand up to the bureaucracy and do the right thing by local government or call an election quickly.

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The Calgary Eye Opener
Monday, September 06, 2004

Chump Ralph drops the ball on Alberta independence

Under our federal system, the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta represents the federal government and cannot get involved in matters which Albertans and Albertans alone should decide - otherwise, Albertans are giving up their independence. Lieutenant Governor Lois Hole stepped way out of line last week. Said she: "a debt-free Alberta should do more for the poor, spend more on the arts and share more with other provinces." Everyone loves Lieutenant Governor Hole but what we do with our money is none of her business, is none of the business of the Federal Government. Chump Klein didn't know that. Here's what he said in defense of our independence:
"The Lieutenant Governor is a person of tremendous stature and undoubtedly the public will pay attention to her comments ... "

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The Calgary Eye Opener
Monday, September 06, 2004

The "It's your future" questionnaire - Government by spin-doctors, of spin-doctors, for spin-doctors

Alberta's Chump Premier Ralph Klein hasn't a clue how Alberta's parliamentary system works. Alberta's government is based upon the parliamentary system of government. Almost every Albertan believes in democracy. Democracy requires representative government. The electors of each constituency in Alberta elect a Member of the Legislative Assembly or MLA, a representative or agent to speak for the electors of that constituency in the Legislative Assembly or Legislature. The MLAs meet together in the legislature and they, and only they, are supposed to decide how the Alberta government will spend taxpayers' money. In today's legislature, MLAs have absolutely no say on the spending of money - the Klein government has turned it over to one Gordon Tuttle the chief spin-doctor of the Alberta "Public Affairs Bureau". Tuttle bosses 166 spin-doctors whose sole function is to keep the Klein Government in power. The Klein government is calling an election on November 22 and want to pretend they are cutting ordinary Albertans into government decision-making. So the Public Affairs Bureau put together its most recent atrocity - a so-called "questionnaire" they've called "It's your future". Tuttle and his spin-doctors paid $500,000 to an outside Tory spin doctor clinic, then mixed bureaucratic bafflegab with motherhood style questions and great globs of propaganda (to have a look at the propaganda click here). Here are the questions:
"[Do you want the government to]:
  • Provide a quality, affordable Alberta health care system?
  • Provide an outstanding education system?
  • Build a more diverse, innovative economy?
  • Provide support to Albertans who need help?
  • Respond to growth in cities?
  • Preserve rural communities?
  • Protect Alberta's environment?
  • Invest in Alberta's infrastructure?
  • Reduce taxes?
  • Provide a refund to every Albertan?
  • Save the money [from resource revenues] and invest it in the Heritage Fund?
  • Make long-term investments in priority areas?"
Before sending out the questionnaire, neither the Klein government nor the Public Affairs Bureau spoke to the Alberta Legislature. Alberta's MLAs meet with their constituents every day. Alberta's MLAs know, it's their job to know, what is important to Albertans. They know that the government is neglecting school children; needs to open, not close, hospitals and clinics; has to give seniors enough money to live with dignity. They know that traffic jams and potholes plague cities and that towns, villages and rural municipalities are going broke. They know that Albertans want to take a large slice of oil and gas revenues away from provincial bureaucrats and give them to local governments. Parliaments like the Alberta legislature have been around for centuries and, if you want to know what the people are thinking, Mr. Klein, go to the legislature (Klein refuses to call the legislature into session this fall).

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The Calgary Eye Opener
Monday, August 30, 2004

The Emperor has no clothes? Why won't Premier Ralph show up at September's Canadian health care talks?

In the May/June election campaign, Prime Minister Paul Martin promised to sit down with provincial premiers and hammer out a health care system that will work. Prime Minister has called the premiers and invited them to a health care meeting starting September 13. "We'll stay there till we agree," Martin declared. "The meeting will be televised."

Suddenly last Tuesday, Alberta's Premier Ralph "Chump" Klein made himself virtually unavailable. He'll only attend on opening day and, even then, he'll silently sulk. "It'll be a 'gong show', anyway," griped Klein. Klein has griped more about the present system than any other premier. Why has Klein suddenly got cold feet?

The Eye Opener talked to two experts about Chump Ralph's virtual no-show at the Canadian health care meetings.

We interviewed someone we'll call Mr. Know-It-All. Said he:

"Realize that the important words here are: 'The meeting will be televised'. Realize that Ralph has never appeared in public with other national leaders ever before. Most of the other leaders will show Ralph up. He's never had any real opposition in Calgary City Council or the Alberta Legislature. And he's always had either a supportive bureaucracy (in City Council meetings) or a supportive Speaker of the House (in the Alberta Legislature). Ralph would only attend meetings with other premiers and the prime minister of Canada if, and only if, the meetings were held behind closed doors. Why? At those meetings not Ralph but his advisers and his cabinet ministers (like Gary Marr) did the talking. Why - because Ralph didn't know what the heck was going on. Ralph, even when not drunk, is mentally challenged. It's been going on ever since Ralph hit the scene. Other leaders aren't going to blow the whistle on Ralph. Albertans would resent that. But Mr. and Ms. Alberta and Mr. and Mrs. Canada, the Solomon Grundys of this world, the great unwashed, the ordinary public, they expect Ralph to speak up, on his own in a health care conference. The Emperor has no clothes. Ralph simply can't do it."

We also interviewed another expert who we'll call Doctor U.B. Well, a health care economist from Athabasca University. Said she:

"Well, you're calling Ralph ignorant and stupid and often impaired - that's pretty harsh. Ralph wants, more than anything, to install a private health care system in Alberta. He might have to back off at the televised federal provincial conference. After the November 22 provincial election, Ralph will probably bring in a private health care system, even if it violates the Canada Health Act. He doesn't want to be pinned down at the September health care meeting."

The Eye Opener:

"Doctor, why's Ralph so keen on private health care."

Dr. U.B. Well:

"I don't know. Ralph will be retiring soon with a small severance payment ($500,000 - not much for Ralph and his wife - they've got very used to living high off the hog - Ralph won't travel on commercial aircraft anymore - he can't smoke on commercial aircraft) and no pension. Maybe someone like Big Mike Lobsinger is getting into the private health care business. Who knows?"

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The Calgary Eye Opener
Monday, August 16, 2004

The Alberta Public Affairs Bureau's Election Platform

No one ever asked red-faced, grumpy Tory tough guy Stan Woloshyn to play Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy at school concerts (in a previous life Woloshyn served as the no-nonsense principal of Kitaskinaw School on the Enoch Indian Reserve). In 1994 the Klein government, Woloshyn in tow, forced Alberta seniors to pay health-care premiums previously paid for, along with eyeglasses and dental care, by the Lougheed and Getty governments. Eventually, the Klein government appointed Woloshyn Minister of Seniors Affairs. Last year, with almost no notice to seniors, Woloshyn hiked old age home rent 78%. The Liberal opposition dubbed Woloshyn a "senior basher".

Last Monday, a senior spin-doctor in Alberta's 288 strong Public Affairs Bureau summoned Woloshyn to his office. "There's an election coming up Stan." "So what, I'm not runnin' (Woloshyn is retiring in November with a half-million dollar severance package.)" "Look at this survey, Stan. One in 10 Albertans are seniors. But, Stan, it's not only the seniors are mad at ya', Stan, their kids are too." "So." "Here's the plan."

On Wednesday an unsmiling Woloshyn shuffled up to a microphone and mumblingly announced that, starting October 1, the government would eliminate senior health care fees - senior couples would save over $1,000 a year. Free eyeglasses and dental care might come later, Woloshyn hinted. Later still, the government might also eliminate seniors' education taxes.

The Alberta Liberals, and some seniors, couldn't resist charging the Tories with election-time cynicism. And seniors were not the only recipients:

  • A Public Affairs Bureau survey found that Albertans were ashamed and angry that, in Canada's wealthiest province, a skinflint government had forced the average schoolteacher to cram too many children into her classroom. In July, the Bureau instructed Learning Minister Lyle Oberg to contribute $89 million to reducing class sizes (on Thursday we learned that school board bureaucracies need not use the money for teachers - they are welcome to use it for other purposes - for instance providing swanky office space for school board bureaucrats).
  • The Public Affairs Bureau realized that hard-hit ranchers were mighty peeved with the Alberta government's tepid response to the Mad Cow crisis and the unconscionable profits Tory friendly meat packers had corralled. Even though last winter premier Ralph Klein refused to give ranchers another penny, on August 6 the government hinted it was preparing another bailout package for cattle producers.

This year Alberta is $10.5 billion (oil and gas revenues are $8 billion) in the black and debt free. What could a government not directed spin-doctors do with the money. We would suggest the following:

  • Free post-secondary education for qualified students
  • A guaranteed annual income for all Albertans
  • Organizing a rancher-owned, government financed and supported meat packing industry which could compete with Lakeside and Cargill Packers
  • Reducing taxes and allowing municipalities to collect revenue and income taxes.
  • Massive recreational programs aimed at reactivating Albertans away from television and junk food.

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The Calgary Eye Opener
Monday, August 02, 2004

Chump Klein - "almost" quitting is not good enough

Last Thursday, at a provincial premiers meeting in Ontario, Alberta's chump premier Ralph Klein made a spectacle of himself again. Reddened-faced, he wandered out of the meeting, ran away from reporters, blockaded himself in a hotel room. Later he babbled off incoherently to reporters on his favorite subject, health care. "I perceive September's meeting [between Prime Minister Paul Martin Junior and the premiers on the subject of health care] a gong show ... so [Martin] should invite the world ... That's fine. I'll go and get my picture taken ... we'll carry out our reforms (privatizing hospitals and the more profitable elements of the medical care system) ... " Klein told the reporters it was critical he obtain health money from Martin but Klein couldn't figure out how much he wanted. Mumbled he: "I believe in the KIS concept. Keep it simple. It should relate to what Martha and Henry and Mr. And Mrs. Grundy want. They don't understand all the complexities ... you can go piddle away at the casino ... you can buy a new car. You can do anything in the world. The only thing you can't do in this country is spend money on your own health care (Americans get to spend twice as much on health care as Canadians do)."

Recently, Klein has made a fool of himself frequently. A year ago he told ranchers to "shoot and shovel" BSE suspected cattle and then to "shut up". International buyers lost any trust they might have had in the integrity of the Alberta beef industry. In June Klein helped destroy the Federal Conservative Party's election campaign by declaring that, immediately following the June election, he would bring in privatization "reforms" in violation of the National Health Act - one of Klein's provincial MLAs quit because of his remarks.

In December 2001, after he drunkenly trashed homeless indigents in an Edmonton men's shelter, Klein undertook to try to stop drinking alcohol. Recently he has been hanging around with old drinking buddy Steve ("the Snarl") West. Klein's 280 taxpayer-paid Public Affairs Bureau spin-doctors have described Klein as having "almost quit drinking". "Almost" is not good enough when the future of the Alberta beef industry, the Conservative Party of Canada and the well being of Canada's medical care system are involved. Shape up, Ralph, or ship out.

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The Calgary Eye Opener
Monday, July 19, 2004

A real threat to the Klein Government - Dave Bronconnier and municipal politicians?

Real opposition to Alberta's Tory government will not come from the Liberal or NDP or Alliance parties nor any political party. Real opposition will come from Alberta's dissatisfied municipal leadership.

Every municipality in Alberta, urban or rural, suffers from a constitutional inability to collect income or revenue taxes and royalties - municipal revenues are limited to property taxes. Alberta's constitution does not recognize municipalities as independent entities, makes them totally subservient to the whims of the Government of Alberta. This arrangement provides Government of Alberta bureaucrats with plenty of money to squander and plenty of power to wield and they jealously guard it. Premier Ernest Manning and Premier Peter Lougheed kept their bureaucrats on short leashes, always threw municipalities enough resource generated grants and local powers to keep them happy. Manning and Lougheed knew that dissatisfied locals could eventually unseat them. The Klein government has allowed provincial bureaucrats to have their way with local municipalities. Under Klein instituted education funding legislation, the City of Calgary must collect education taxes, then deliver the revenues over to provincial bureaucrats who take their cut in administration fees, add a little additional money, dole out the balance to local school boards. In rural areas, towns and villages provide infrastructure (streets, sewer and water, community facilities, industrial and residential areas) for the oil and gas industry. Often, because oil and gas fields are outside municipal boundaries, the municipalities providing infrastructure cannot collect even property taxes from the fields from which the provincial government collects massive crown royalties. The Town of Pincher Creek, for instance, provides municipal infrastructure for the Waterton Gas Field located south of the town's boundaries; the province collects an estimated $28 million from the field; the town receives nothing except a few government grants heavily administered by the Province. The Klein government has allowed provincial bureaucrats to centralize services to Pincher Creek's agricultural industry and so, come the BSE crisis last year, local cow/calf operators got only meager, red tape-wrapped handouts from the province. The federal government, at least, encouraged and expedited local efforts to build new meat-packing facilities. The province did nothing.

On two occasions in the past Albertans have ignored political parties and elected governments from leadership outside of established political parties. In 1921, under the leadership of Henry Wisewood, leader of the United Farmers of Alberta (a farmer's union which was actually opposed to political parties and Wisewood would not serve as premier) threw out Alberta's Liberal Government. The United Farmers governed Alberta until 1935. In 1935, Bible Bill Aberhart and the Social Credit League (which had been formed just a year before the election and which became a political party just days before the election) soundly beat the United Farmers. Don't be surprised to see an alliance of municipal leaders rise up, as quickly as the United Farmers and the Social Credit did, advocating the giving of additional taxation and revenue powers and constitutional autonomy to local municipalities. And what scatological disturber would lead such an Alliance? The Eye Opener thinks that Dave Bronconnier is the man.

Bronconnier is a thick-skinned, boyish dogged fighter. Calgarians elected Bronconnier mayor in the fall of 2001. Under his weak predecessor Al Duerr, city bureaucrats passed through City Council a reorganization plan ceding the government of the City to top bureaucrat, "Chief Executive Officer" Dale Stanway. Duerr, meantime, busied himself with trips abroad, golf at the Calgary Golf and Country Club and the obtaining of an MBA degree from the University of Calgary. When, in 2001, fearing road rage from voters frustrated by Calgary's neglected transportation system, Duerr retired to work for Caribbean mystery man Fred Baum, the bureaucrats and Duerr tried to elect Bev Longstaff mayor. But Bronconnier ran against her and beat her. Though City Hall bureaucrats shunned him, Bronconnier rallied, first, the people of Calgary, then, his fellow city councilors to a battle to recapture city hall. In 2002, spurred on by Bronconnier, Council demanded an accounting of the bureaucrats' disastrous East Village project - Stanway was forced to fire four underlings. In March 2003, Bronconnier persuaded council to nullify the Duerr era reorganization plan and to restore council's pre-Duerr powers. In October 2003 Bronconnier persuaded council to fire Stanway. The dogged Bronconnier fully controlled City Hall.

During his Liberal leadership campaign in May of last year, Paul Martin promised Canadian cities a share of the federal gasoline tax. Bronconnier determined to keep Martin honest, kept reminding Martin of the promise. Martin repeated the promise in September but this January, safely installed as leader, tried to renege. Bronconnier, a former Liberal candidate, hound-dogged the Liberals, kept nipping at Martin's heels. In early February, to appease municipal leaders led by Bronconnier, Martin fully rebated all GST paid by municipalities, saving Canadian municipalities $580 million per year. Not good enough, said Bronconnier, we want a share of gasoline taxes. By April, having decided to call an election in early summer, Martin promised a gasoline tax deal by year's end. Bronconnier continued to hold Martin's feet to the fire. When Martin visited the Stampede yesterday, Bronconnier cornered him. Martin (who does not like to say "no") unequivocally agreed to share the tax.

Bronconnier has also dogged chump premier Ralph Klein to give municipalities some of the Alberta Government's lavish oil and gas revenues. When, last week at a Stampede breakfast, Klein bragged of eliminating the provincial debt, Bronconnier pointed out that, to do so, Klein had incurred a huge "infrastructure debt" of neglected municipal roads and public works which should be repaid to Alberta municipalities by large slices of future budget surpluses. Egged on by his bureaucracy, Klein has denounced Bronconnier and is shunning him. Klein should remember the bitter experience of Dale Stanway. Klein may be creating a leader who and a movement which will see the end of him.

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The Calgary Eye Opener
Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Bedside Booze - A Smokescreen for the Chump

In the 1995 Klein/Big Mike Lobsinger/MultiCorp (now Zi Corp) scandal, Alberta's ethics excuser, Bob Clark, got Ralph Chump Klein off only by the skin of his teeth. Ever since, Klein has panicked at the whiff of public scandal. A week ago Alberta Liberals pried out of the machinery of Alberta's Freedom of Information Act the high-flying antics of the Chump and his entourage. Four days of using three SUVs in New York cost Alberta taxpayers $8,000. Taxpayers tipped hotel maids in a Mexican hotel $1,800. An executive lunch in London cost $1,400. Klein spent $750 for dinner at Caesar's Steak House in Calgary - Klein consumed no alcohol - he has "almost" quit drinking. In less than two years, Tory politicians and their sidekicks have taken 122 trips costing $1.1 million dollars. Immediately the news was out, Klein wheezed, "It's smokescreen time." Klein threatened to pull Alberta out of the Canada Health Act. The Friends of Medicare yelled and yelled loud. He cerebrated selling alcohol in hospitals. Every fun-hating puritan in the Province wreathed in righteous indignation. There was smoke aplenty, enough to obscure the poor old taxpayers' indignation over footing the bill for the Chump's version of the good life.
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The Calgary Eye Opener
Monday, December 08, 2003
Ralph's Team on Mad Cows versus Ralph's Team on Insurance Premiums
Auto Insurance and Mad Cows

June 11, 2003 - The Awakening
“Wake up Ralph for God’s sake!”
“What’s the ahhh probleeem”?
“I don’t want to be poor, I don’t want to be shunned, I don’t want to lose all of the perks to which, I, for one, have grown accustomed, that’s what Bozo.”
“Or to which you have become addicccted. Tell meeee are you ahhh…. Having a nightmare or something?”
“No Bernard Lord, Bernard Lord, the fair-haired boy premier of New Brunswick…. is losing the election.”
“I always said he was too much of a aaaah keeeeener …… a boy scout … well ya knooow that’s good news…”
“No he’s losing it over, guess what …. car insurance premiums and guess who has the highest premiums in Canada?”
“New Brunswick?”
“No you lunkhead… Alberta. And we’ve got an election coming up in 18 months.”
“For gawd sakes, you know, I’ve got so darned much on my plate now. Oh gawd. Mad Cow I don’t understand. Education – people griping about fund raising, university fees (Ah … I did O.K. without going to university, didn’t I?).”
“Yes Ralph Dear, but your lack of education ain’t going to get you another job anywhere near the one you’ve got now.”
“Towns going broke. Cut backs in health care. What about them?”
“You know, Ralph, what’s going to happen to you … you’ll end up living off your brother-in-law. The one who got to keep his MultiCorp profits? Do you want that?”
“Nouuuu, I guess not.”
“So put insurance premiums in first place and do it fast.”
“But the insurance companies won’t like that you know.”
“Ralphie, if we lose the election, we’re talking here about living in an unfinished shack at Pinheadville just West of Golden.”
“OK, already. I’ll get right on to it”
“Ralphie, I mean Chop, Chop. Unless you deal with auto insurance now, you ain’t going to get elected next time around. Ready, get set, GO Ralph, GO.”

Ralph’s Team’s solution to Alberta going to Hell in a Hand Basket
Ralph’s Team has sat in power too long. Old, tired, lazy, fat, addicted to the perks of power, stuck in the status quo - no fire do they have in their bellies.Ralph Team’s solutions to most of Alberta’s problems are slow, bureaucratic, ineffective:

How Ralph’s Team has not dealt with the Mad Cow Crisis
Six and one half months ago, on May 20, an abattoir in Northern Alberta detected one case of Mad Cow. The U.S. immediately closed its border to our cattle exports. Since then, the Alberta government has done virtually nothing to help. Alberta ranchers earn 30% of their income from cull cattle (bulls too old to breed, cows to old to produce milk, animals just not able to perform their function in the food chain) and they are quickly going bankrupt. So are the businesses and communities which service them. Meat packing facilities must be specially tooled to slaughter cull cattle – most cull cattle are larger than normal cattle. Before May 20, Alberta ranchers shipped half of their cull cattle to specially equipped facilities across the border in the U.S. The U.S. meat packing plants processed the tougher cull meat into hamburger and cheap cuts and shipped much of it back to Canada. Immediately after the May 20 border closure (even though the border will soon be open to younger cattle, it will remain closed to culls), Canada was 50% short of slaughter facilities for culls. But the Americans were still permitted to ship hamburger meat and cheap cuts (now from American culls) to Canada. There are now too many culls, a cull cow, which sold for $800 before May 20, now sells for $200 or less.

If Ralph’s Team had any fire in its belly, it would, by now, have built and equipped facilities to handle the extra culls. Quickly. Governments can move fast, if they have to – the American government built the Alaska Highway in 9 months. In the last seven months, the Alberta government has done almost nothing for cow-calf operators but has paid $200 million unthought out dollars to big political contributors in the meat packing and feed lot industries. Some ranchers and local businessmen have seized the bull by the horns. Government has done little. Only the Pincher Creek branch of the Western Diversification Fund (which is sponsored by the Federal, not the Alberta, Government) is, even at this late date, considering building more cull facilities.

And Klein took this occasion to the dumbest remark of his entire career. Blurted out Klein, “[The owner of the mad cow who started the crisis in the first place] …should have shot, shoveled and shut up”. Alberta now has not just one Mad Cow to deal with - Klein’s verborrhea has led the U.S. and Japan to believe that herds of mad cows are stampeding around Alberta and that most Alberta ranchers silently steal out in the dead of night to shoot and shovel them into congested ground. The Eye Opener would never advocate shooting Ralph but would advocate shoveling him out of power and shutting him up real good.

The Ralph Team’s Solution to Insurance Premium Increases
“The prospect of being hung, concentrates the mind wonderfully,” said Dr. Samuel Johnson. The prospect of losing an election shocked Ralph’s Team into bolting into action in a most unTortoiselike way.

In recent years insurance companies gambled in the stock market and lost. To cover their investment losses and some unanticipated “catastrophic” (as opposed to “minor”) losses, the companies started raising premiums to cover the losses. In New Brunswick, because of voter resentment over raised premiums, boy premier Bernard Lord came within one seat of losing a provincial election. So when the Klein government realized that insurance premiums could lose them the next election, they acted quickly. The government immediately froze premiums for 18 months. Then Klein realized that a freeze was not enough. "The (18-month) freeze could take us into an election, and that would be the worst possible time to deal with this," said Klein. Come up with a plan he told his Alberta Department of Finance bureaucrats. During the 2005 election, the plan must appear to keep premiums low.

“And move fast,” said Ralph’s Team. And the bureaucrats did. Within less than six months Ralph’s Team now has an insurance premium law on the books. Bill 53 reduces premiums for the three groups doing the most squawking about the premium increases, youngsters and oldsters and Edmontonians. Statistically, all three had caused more accidents than other drivers did and their premiums were being increased. Actuarial science requires insurance companies to charge these three high-risk groups higher premiums. The Klein government’s insurance legislation ignores actuarial science in favor of election pseudoscience. From now on the companies can only charge Albertans higher premiums if someone has actually caused an accident – the companies aren’t allowed to predict risks in advance. Says one insurance professional, "It’s like driving a car on a dark night on a winding highway without any headlights. Insurance doesn’t work that way." Ralph's Team did throw the insurance industry one bone - it capped “minor injury” damages at only $4,000. But minor injuries did not cause the companies’ losses – the companies had speculated on the stock market, and had had a large increase in “catastrophic” as opposed to “minor” losses.

Albertans will find a solution
The long-term problems of agriculture, municipalities, education and health care will not go away. As problems fester, leaders, the Eye Opener is sure, will emerge. They will be more concerned about fixing Albera than about winning elections. Among them will be small town mayors. Among them will be fed-up parents. Among them will be educators. Among them will be doctors and nurses. And among them will be ranchers. They will have fire in their bellies and they will ultimately overthrow the Klein government.

The Calgary Eye Opener

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