Saturday, September 19, 2009

Rahim, baby, you can drive my car!

In a statement emailed to the Edmonton Journal, Rahim Jaffer declared, "I am innocent and am confident of full exoneration. I cannot express how grateful I am for the support of my family and friends and I ask that you respect their privacy as I strive to clear my name."

Good on you, Rahim. Rage, rage against the dying of the light!

Rather than falling on his sword and declaring a teary mia culpa, Mr. Jaffer's going to fight the charges.

The Alberta Report Editorial Collective applauds this decision.

Not only will this make for good copy, questions must be answered. Like, what did his wife, Hon. Helena Geurgis, know and when? Does Rahim have a valid drivers license? And, did he leave any gas in the tank of Hon. Geurgis' car when he was done his (allegedly) cocaine and booze-fueled joyride through rural Ontario?

By the way, your tax dollars paid for part of Mr. Jaffer's (allegedly) cocaine and booze-fueled joyride.

Ministers, like Hon. Geurgis, Minister of State (Status of Women), receive $2,122 in federal funding for cars.

Beep beep mm Beep Beep Yeah!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Harper Declares Cocaine Legal

OTTAWA – Canada’s New Government moved an emergency Criminal Code & Controlled Substances amendment in the House today to immediately and retroactively make possession of small amounts of cocaine legal.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared it open season on Columbian marching powder north of the 49th parallel, retroactive to September 10.

“In today’s tough economic times, we need to be flexible in seeking solutions,” Harper said. “This portion of Canada’s economic action plan is to take luxury recreational drugs out of the hands of drug dealers and put them into the hand of drug companies and discerning consumers.

“It’s to allow individualized stimulus and infrastructure development – the best kind.”

The government also indicated that installing mirrors on coffee tables will qualify for the recently-passed home renovation tax credit, and struggling danceclubs may claim a tax credit for installation of new mirrored bathroom counters.

"This is a blow against liberal nanny-state interventionists and recession-mongers nationwide," Harper declared.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, whose department drafted the bill over a “late night of Risk,” added that former MPs and businessmen alike have been suffering from issues such as reclining gumlines, gastrointestinal leakage, and complications of the septum due to varying degrees of coke quality in Canada.

“This is a huge step forward for the nation’s blow,” he said.

Nicholson also made it very clear that the legality of the eight ball in question would be dependant on the drug being in the businessman-friendly powder version, and sourced exclusively from Defense Department-approved Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia organizations.

“We’ll weigh it, tax it, and most importantly, standardize it, so that Canadians can take heart in knowing that their schney is as pure as the driven snow,” Nicholson said.

In an unrelated development, Nicholson also moved an amendment to the criminal code to allow impaired drivers the opportunity to bust lines in order to sober up.

“It’s a well-known fact that a few fat rails cancels out a few beers,” he said. “Hell, I probably drive better when I can’t feel my teeth.”

Cocaine in hardened, crystallized form, known as ‘crack’ will “absolutely not” be made legal, the Minister added.

“A little blow never hurt anybody, but anything that’s popular in the inner city is subversive – and right out.”

When pressed about the apparent time overlap between the new bill's reach and the news about the arrest of former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer last weekend, the Minister's aides brought the scrum to an end and Nicholson was led to the bathroom.




- the AREC.

Party on, Wayne! Party on, Rahim!

The news about Rahim Jaffer first made us Alberta Reporters envious - man, we're apparently partying with some pretty boring people by comparison.

But there's some seriousness to yesterday's drunk driving and cocaine possession charges.

Specifically, what does Jaffer's wife, Helena Guergis, minister of state for Status of Women, know about Jaffer's cocaine purchases and use? Has anyone in the media asked her?

And, proving the internet exists to prove the deliciousness of irony, Alberta Reporters remember this little outburst by Rahim in the waning days of his losing campaign in 2008. Our favourite line:

"Edmontonians understand how difficult it is to make sure our children make the right choices, especially on serious issues like drug use. The Conservative party supports drug-free schools and getting tough on drug dealers who sell illegal drugs to children. Don't let our schools go up in smoke."

Jaffer said the ad tells listeners about the NDP's position on crime.

"The NDP claim that they're tough on crime, but their actions speak completely differently," he said.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Why PC MLA Jonathan Denis Owes Us a Coffee.

Why are Paul Hinman and the Wildrose Alliance running away with Calgary Glenmore?

Well, as we here at the Alberta Report pointed out a month ago, the conditions were right - as long as they did the work.

In a constituency set to record one of the worst voter turnouts in Alberta election history, what really turns the tide is your ability to visit doors, phone voters, and run an effective e-day mechanism.

Never underestimate the power of zealotry. The Hinman campaign and WRA hacks like our friend Wildrose Jane trucked in activists from across the city and beyond.

NDP types may well remember the 2000 Edmonton Highlands by-election where Mason "Won by a Mile" as the morning papers said. Well, the Dippers did it then.

Old timers may recall a certain Pincher Creek by-election where the NDP type of campaigning was pioneered - the party bussed folks in from across BC and Alberta. That's where they pioneered the current NDP vote-numbering system later modernized by Stephen Lewis. As one veteran put it: "When we rang their bell the first time they slammed the door in our faces. When we rang it the next time they shouted at us to leave. When we rang it the third time they locked in shocked incredulity - you guys are really serious!"

Garth Turcott became the first NDP MLA to sit in Alberta's Legislature.

The Wildrose Alliance won't like it, but their campaign had a similar type of zeal. They were on a mission (from God - like the Blues Brothers?). They can be proud of the win. It's a convincing one - and Paul Hinman is an admirable MLA.

The pretentious DRP was about as useless as a hat full of busted assholes. No Green candidate - barely a whisper of a NDP campaign - all of the right conditions for dissent... yet beaten by a Mormon from Cardston (though yes, he grew up in Glenmore). Maybe that'll put their voter-trickery-schemes to bed. But we doubt it.

As for Paul Hinman, let's hope he represents his constituents well in the Brian Mason mold and doesn't suffer the fate of Garth Turcott.

Garth lost - and never returned to politics.

Okay, so here's who owes us money/coffee as a result of the Paul Hinman prediction:

from @JonoMLA - Jonathan Denis, PC MLA, Calgary Egmont
@albertareport I don't bet money on anything but I'll bet a coffee on a Colley-Urquhart victory :)


And two others. They know who they are. We'll collect. :-)

The Conclusion of a Not-So Thrilling Saga?

A couple hundred NDP faithful are still nursing Convention hangovers today.

Some highlights and lowlights:

There has been more than enough twitter talk and blogging about the DRP - though we'll add our two cents to one aspect of the argument later, and a few humorous reflections. The standing vote count was 123 to 27 - against. We'd be curious to see any actual proof of this 300+ number that Finkel (and now, apparently, the media) has been bandying about. The Alberta Report sure haven't seen any evidence of this.

Matt Hebb from Nova Scotia delivered an important and concise message for moderation, organization, and taking advantage of opportunities when they manifest. He provided some real one-liner gems - "hug a liberal," "reach out to the NDP-curious," and the Newhart-esque "it's hard to grow when you're shrinking." Unfortunate that only 150 or so delegates were in attendance, for this was perhaps the highlight of the weekend.

Paul Moist from CUPE National provided a fiery and eloquent message for delegates about working with organized labour - something some delegates had a difficult time stomaching at last year's convention in Calgary. Rumours abounded that the Electrical Worker delegation would try to stymie the anti-nuclear policy proposals from the Peace Country (they supported the resolution) or generally be anti-environment (they weren't).

Rebecca Blaikie (son of Bill Blaikie, former Quebec section director, aide to Manitoba's Minister of Labour) was okay - her message contained a disproportionate amount of the banal - nothing new, and her familiar, informal speaking style (though quite warm in smaller quarters) made it difficult for her to capture the attention of delegates.

A steady stream of observers and guests participated in the convention, with at least one blogger, a photo-blogger, a number of tweets - and guests from the Alberta Teachers, AUPE, the Multicultural Coalition, and representatives from the city's Kurdish, Somalian, Lebanese, Romanian, and other ethnic communities (multicultural guests were given free admittance, along with citizen media folks). On another note, pot activist and banned federal delegate Dana Larsen was allowed to attend, to zero controversy, just like every other year.

The twitter conversation is still ongoing, we might add.

Saturday night's dinner honouring Brian Mason's 20 years of service featured a motley collection of current and past political figures, including: Calgary Councillor Bob Hawkesworth, Edmonton Councillors Tony Caterina and Amarjeet Sohi, former councillor Michael Phair, former MLAs Jim Gurnett (Spirit River-Fairview), Derek Fox (Vegreville), Alex McEachern (Edmonton Kingsway), and possibly others that we missed. Jack Layton's anecdotes were a highlight, and the performance of MC (and Mason's EA) Michelle Jackson was honest and endearing.

The schism that characterized last year's convention in Calgary seems to be over, with new Party President Nancy Furlong of the Alberta Federation of labour promising to utilize her skills as a facilitator to mend the breaches - but with the notable absence of Electrical Worker and Insulator delegates from the convention floor, one wonders if new fights are forthcoming. The election of Gil McGowan as the General VP for Edmonton over rank-and-file labour delegate Jason Rockwell was rumoured to be by the smallest of margins - 2 or 3 votes - meaning "Brother" Gil still has a long way to go in terms of overcoming his significant staff relations problems at the Fed, and his dalliance with Alberta's Liberal Party over the past two years.

A New Executive round-up:

Table Officers:
President - AFL Secretary-Treasurer Nancy Furlong.
Treasurer - Linda Duncan campaign manager, Amnesty International activist, and Duncan "Minister of Everything" Erica Bullwinkle.
1st Vice-President - Electrical Workers Organizer and Business Agent Al Brown
2nd Vice-President - Past Party President, former Communications Executive of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569, and staffer for the Centre for Civic Governance, Steve Bradshaw.

General Executive:
Edmonton: AFL President Gil McGowan - teacher and Edmonton Beverly-Clareview President Peggy Wright.

Calgary: Electrical Workers Organizer, Calgary Glenmore Candidate, World Skills volunteer Eric Carpendale - CUPE Local 1669 President and former Canadian Labour Congress rep Rh'ena Oake.

Central: Seniors' Action Liaison Team (SALT) organizer and board member Carol Wodak of Sherwood Park - Ironworker activist Len Legault of Provost.

North: Former Alberta Liberal Caucus outreach worker and National Farmers' Union activist Mandy Melnyk of Dunvegan-Central Peace - City of Grande Prairie councillor, Grande Prairie Regional College Instructor, and recently published author Elroy Diemert (defeated carpenter Ken Kuzminski of Jasper).

South: University professor, federal candidate Mark Sandilands of Lethbridge - criminal lawyer, past candidate, Anne Wilson of Banff.

Lastly, Alberta's NDP Conventions have been steadily changing over the past few years. A rising group of youth have been taking charge, and taking important positions in the party. It's readily apparent that party and leg staffing has been provided by a core of 20 and 30-somethings for some time - but the changing demographics of participation in the party proper, particularly from core constituencies such as Edm. Strathcona, Beverly-Clareview, Highlands-Norwood, Dunvegan-Central Peace and the Peace Country in general, as well as from the downtown ridings one would expect such as Edmonton Centre and Calgary Centre/Centre North, bodes well for New Democrats. One blogger commented in passing on twitter that their weren't "as many grey hairs" as one would expect. These also aren't the typical University activist core, but rather the young professionals - lawyers, teachers, nurses, computer techs, technical writers, communications people, small businesspeople, accountants, Ironworkers, and other tradespeople - that the party needs in order to grow beyond its current third-party status.

And judging from the pessimism and negativity of some of the party's older delegates, that's a damn good thing.


Oh - and Mason's mustache was back. But we REALLY did not doctor that photo.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The American poltical scene is truly whacked.

Where the hell were these people eight years ago when the Patriot Act was signed into law?

Why are people taking to the streets to protest the American government's foray into public health care? For emphasis: PUBLIC HEALTH CARE!

People are calling Obama Hitler, but Bush was a patriot.

Oi vey.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bloggers at ABNDP Convention? Egads!

Okay, like, OMG.

So, the following Alberta NDP news release went out today to at least a few Alberta Bloggers.

Yup, bloggers (and tweets too!) get full and free access as media observers to "#ANDP09" (as the hashtag the release proclaims) - the NDP's annual convention, being held in Edmonton this year.

our pal over at St. Albert Diary sagely noted that the Wildrose Alliance was also up to the same thing - though bloggers will be charged $30 to enter (WTF? Would they charge real journalists too?).

We at the Alberta Report have just one question remaining:

How long before bloggers become like the regular hacks?

(No offense Graham, really).


Social media invited to attend Alberta NDP Convention

Bloggers & Tweeters encouraged to provide alternative media coverage

EDMONTON – For the first time in Alberta, the provincial NDP are opening the doors of their annual convention to non-mainstream social media bloggers, tweeters, and citizen journalists.

“This invitation is designed to help kindle interest in the inner workings of a democratic political party like the NDP,” said convention organizer and blogger Katharine Hay.

“Political discussion is increasingly happening through social media. More and more people are using Twitter, Facebook, and blogs to become engaged in the political process, which the NDP supports,” she added.

Free social media kits for the convention – known as “#ANDP09” on Twitter – will be available to bloggers and Tweeters during convention registration.


Alberta NDP Convention

Date & Time:

Sept.11 to Sept.13 (Registration 4 p.m. Friday, adjourns 1:30 p.m. Sunday)


Crown Plaza / Chateau Lacombe

10111 Bellamy Hill


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mason's Stache Doesn't Make the Cut


CALGARY - Alberta's NDP Leader Brian Mason's mo is no more.

Yup, we mean it. The patented cropped-English-style-tickler was pared back prior to Mason's appearance at the Calgary & District Labour Council Labour Day BBQ over the long weekend.

An insider source told the Alberta Report today that the no-mo move shows that Mason is prepared to make the tough decisions.

"Mason is bearing it all for the electorate," she said. "He's showing voters that he's prepared to make the tough cuts - and just like Stelmach's carbon capture scheme, it was time for the cookie duster to hit the trail."

The Mason soup-strainer had been in full effect for the extent of his political career, which hits the 20 year-mark this year with a celebration at the 2009 Alberta NDP Convention this weekend.

Articles abound on the death of the political mustache. But Mason's lip warmer was a bristly reminder that he was no Conservative.

In fact, Mason's flavour-saver proved to be an inspiration on the Alberta political scene, leading to a 12% rise in soup-strainers upon candidates for public office in Alberta since 1989.

On the federal scene, 'stache-laden leaders have risen 100% since the ascendancy of Mason's power stache in 1989, despite the stache-bashing of naysayers.

The man who made the Alberta political scene safe for mustaches couldn't be reached for comment, but Winston Churchill was once told by a woman that she did not like his politics or his mustache. The prime minister replied, “Madam, you are not likely to come in contact with either.”

We don't know how that's relevant. But it's damn funny.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Is Mrs. Harper going to be a Tory Candidate?

There really is no other explanation for this page on the Conservative Party's website other than that Laureen Harper is going to run for the Tories in the next election, methinks.

Laureen gets her own little webpage, paid for by Conservative donors (and taxpayers' "subsidies" don't forget), that joyfully tells us she was born in Turner Valley, AB, and enjoys "riding her motorcycle, newly purchased this past fall."

On the other hand, Michael Ignatieff's wife, Zsuzsanna Zsohar (that is her really name), barely gets a mention on the Liberal Party website.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Greyhound Chases Cash Rabbit. Time to Nationalize?

As Greyhound uses the economic downturn to put a gun to the heads of provincial and federal governments by announcing the elimination of bus routes in Ontario and Manitoba, the Alberta Report asks, why not nationalize Greyhound?

According to Greyhound, there's simply too much regulation, too much cost, to run a for-profit transportation system.

In a bizarre string of press release, Greyhound stated that operations will cease in Ontario and Manitoba. Greyhound will also be "reviewing its operations in Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Yukon and the Northwest Territories."

The company wants "assistance to cover its order to maintain this essential services."

Stuart Kendrick, Senior VP of Greyhound said that the company needs $15 to $20 million in public funding in order to be profitable. He said Greyhound has tried repeatedly to "right-size" [shudder] bus routes, but federal and provincial government wouldn't allow Greyhound to abandon some routes.

A few things to note:
  1. Greyhound acknowledges that its services are essential, as do some MPs and officials in the provinces directly affected.
  2. The company (Greyhound Canada Transportation Corp.) is a subsidiary of Scotland's FirstGroup Plc. Stock prices look good.
  3. Greyhound operations in Canada and the US made a profit of $86.3 million CAD last year (48.5 million GBP) - see page 12 of the Annual Report and Accounts 2009 - although we can't find a route-by-route profitability breakdown.
  4. In the above annual report, FirstGroup Plc. says, "We have reduced mileage by 7.6% in the US and in Canada, where we have to seek regulatory approval prior to network
    changes." Yeah...right.
Maybe we should give them $15 to $20 million in public assistance. Heck, maybe we should give them a lot more and nationalize cross-Canada bus service.

Or, at the very least, some sort of government intervention to allow Canadians who don't own a car access to national transportation, something we have a long history of doing.

Manitoba NDP MP Jim Maloway has even suggested the province develop its own bus service.

Someone will blink in this standoff, either Greyhound, Manitoba, Ontario or the federal government.

Our bets are on the feds to make the first move. With an election ever more immanent, look for the Tories to make a move to appease their rural supporters who rely on small town bus service.

Any bets?
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