Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The "Free Alberta Strategy"

 I'll forgive people elsewhere in Canada who might be wondering what the hell is going on in Alberta. A little over a year ago, we were treated to the spectacle of a bunch of Alberta MPs and other luminaries signing the Buffalo Declaration, and today, we get "The Free Alberta Strategy". 

For all that there's some genuflection in the direction of keeping Alberta part of Canada, the reality is that this is still the same old separatist garbage that I first encountered in Junior High when the Constitution was being repatriated. 

I won't waste your time with the deceitfully written complaints about how being part of Canada is such an unfair burden on Alberta. We've all seen it before, and it's the same old whining nonsense that has more to do with winding up the rubes than it does with any real and legitimate issues.  

What is somewhat unique about this document is a series of legislative initiatives that they propose.

Well ... Yesterday Was An Off-Price Day In Alberta Politics

The day started with a bunch of Kenney's caucus showing up at yet another separatist policy dog-whistle being unveiled:

... and it ended with a COVID update presser from Jason Kenney that basically said "nah, we don't care about whether you're landing in ICU on a ventilator, or that the rest of the health care system is crashing".

To be honest, I'm not at all sure which to be angrier about - a bunch of numpties stuffing the Buffalo Declaration and the old Firewall Letter in a blender and calling it something new, or a heartless premier who seems all too content with letting Alberta burn to the ground while he screws around.

I'm disgusted with both, and I'm even more appalled that the UCP caucus hasn't got the collective spine to give this premier the boot that he so richly deserves. It says much about them, and none of it good. 


Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Post Election Calls For Electoral Reform

In the wake of voting for our 44th Parliament, there are numerous calls out there to move Canada to some form of Proportional Representation (PR).  I am sympathetic to these calls for reform - our current system of elections really does not give us a government that reflects the diversity of beliefs in our our political landscape. 

There are many arguments as to whether, for example, the views of a party like the PPC in fact are deserving of representation in our parliament, while at the same time wanting to give voice to other small parties like the GPC. Similarly, there are many forms of PR, and hybrid models, and I don't think at this point in time that anyone has done an effective job of analyzing them, and defining a model that is workable in the Canadian context. So we have a lot of discussions to be had over what form of PR we should use, and the specifics of implementation. 

This isn't to argue that there is no form of PR that can work in Canada. There may well be, but at this point in time, nobody has put forward a model with adequate analysis to show that it is both viable and equitable to the people of Canada. 

Canada presents some unique challenges for electoral reform that many proponents do not seem to be thinking of. First, is our geography - Canada is vast.  Hugely so.  We have major differences in political perspectives that are shaped by that very geography. The Prairie provinces (MB/SK/AB) have wildly different concerns than one sees in Southern Ontario around the Great Lakes.  The Maritimes are different yet again, and then there's Qu├ębec.  History and cultural considerations further play into the picture, and also need to be talked about. 

Would these regional and cultural considerations spell the end of "national parties" like the current CPC and LPC, leaving Canada dominated politically by a series of regional parties like the BQ squabbling over control?  This latter prospect would no doubt end up with a government dominated by the two central Canadian provinces, and leaving smaller regions with even less ability to influence the national discourse than we see today. 

At the end of the day, however, PR would leave us with a key source of the polarization in our political discourse:  Parties.  The last couple of elections, and the last parliament in particular, have shown us that the party system has supplanted the principles of representative democracy. If you don't belong to the same political tribe as your MP or MLA, chances are very good that you don't even feel that they are willing or able to represent your issues and concerns to the government.  Instead, we are left with their issues and concerns being buried in the mire of party loyalty. Citizen level concerns are subservient to the dictates of the party, and party discipline - meaning that your MP or MLA is really there to represent their party to you, and to do the party's bidding in the legislature. 

This is backwards, and violates the fundamental principles that made the Westminster model work in the first place. One might argue that in a PR driven legislature, the MPs would be more willing to represent individual and constituency concerns because no one party is ever likely to have a stranglehold on power. Perhaps this is true, but there is no guarantee of such a change. 

The willingness of several parties this past election cycle to ignore reality and make things up on the fly leads me to argue that perhaps we need to think much more carefully about our political system, and ask whether or not changing the voting model is in fact going to address the fundamental issues. Or would we just be "changing the colour of the curtains"? 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

An Open Letter To Jason Kenney

 Dear Premier Kenney, 

The time for you to step down has come. 

It actually arrived in July of 2021 when COVID-19 modelling was showing Alberta going into a fourth wave in mid-August. Your government decided to do nothing then, and things got worse than they needed to. 

You disappeared on a "vacation" in August. In doing so, you left the entire government paralyzed. Nobody in your cabinet felt they could make a decision to act without your go ahead. Albertans were treated to the scene of your ministers not answering basic questions, and press conferences being shut down by the "issues managers" (political minders) you assigned to them

You, and your government remained fundamentally incommunicado straight through until mid-way through the last week of the federal election campaign, at which time you rolled out a state of emergency declaration and some half-baked "not a vaccine passport, but it's a vaccine passport" policy in response to the obvious fact that the health care system was overwhelmed and collapsing catastrophically.

This isn't just a failure of leadership, Mr. Kenney. No, it's far, far worse than that. It's a failure to carry out the duties that you swore you would bear when you were sworn in as Premier in 2019. You failed to direct your Minister of Health to take steps to mitigate a fourth wave of COVID-19. You failed to direct your Minister of Health to safeguard the functioning of the health care system as a whole. Then, when the crisis became too large to ignore, you and your cabinet came up with a series of non-solutions that had deleterious effects on the health of Albertans. Urgently needed surgeries were delayed indefinitely while ICU wards were overrun with COVID-19 patients who hadn't been vaccinated yet.

Then, when a federal election is in the offing, you conveniently disappear mid-campaign so as not to further damage your federal peers' chances of election. You went radio silence, left your government and the people of Alberta hanging while COVID-19 escalated out of control ... all so that your federal cousins might have a better chance at being elected. Your partisan goals do not supersede the needs of the people you govern, and you allowed that to happen. 

Your tenure as a Premier has been one unmitigated disaster. Your government has lurched from one ham-fisted policy to the next. Then, when it was faced with a monumental crisis called a pandemic, you decided that doing nothing was going to be just fine. Instead of leading with a solid, positive example, you chose to give the braying fools who thought this pandemic was fake a platform. You allowed them to hold demonstrations because it was politically convenient for you to do so. Instead of leading, you cowered before the basest of the base, and let them run amok.

You, sir, have failed the very people you swore to serve to the best of your ability.

It is time to depart. Call an election in Alberta today, and let the adults start cleaning up the mess you have made. 


One Pissed Off Albertan

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

How The CPC Snatched Defeat From The Jaws of Victory on September 20

Last night's election was an object lesson in how the CPC has failed as a party.  Practically speaking, they failed horribly last night.  On paper, they garnered more of the vote than the LPC did (33.9% versus 32.2%).  Yet, they garnered only 119 seats, where the LPC garnered 158.

Why the discrepancy? 

Sunday, September 05, 2021

On Politics and Qualifications

 Back in July, I wrote an extensive piece advocating for all but removing the party system from our parliament. In other discussions the topic of qualifications and expertise came up - the general gist of it was basically whether or not a government formed as I proposed would have the requisite expertise needed.  I feel that this warrants a bit more discussion. 

First of all, I want to point out that our current system simply does not guarantee that anybody we elect to the post of MP (or MLA) has any particular expertise for any particular post. One only has to look at people like Jason Kenney, Pierre Poilievre, Michelle Rempel, or any of a dozen back bencher MPs from other parties, and ask "what particular expertise do these people bring?".  When Kenney was Minister of Immigration, did he have any particular expertise in the area of immigration?  No, he did not. In fact, we have an entire system of government built on the idea that one does not need any particular expertise in order to govern. In theory, anybody can become a politician, regardless of education, experience or anything else - they basically have to be good at being visible to the voters. 

Much has been made of Justin Trudeau's "lack of experience and qualifications". Yet, Justin Trudeau holds not one, but two degrees, and has actual work experience in a profession. Jason Kenney? Well - he's been a fixture in the political circuit ever since he dropped out of an undergraduate degree. Yet both men sit at the apex of their respective parties. 

Traditionally, politics has been dominated by men, and those men have mostly been either lawyers or businessmen. Lawyers seem to be attracted to politics in part because of an interest in creating the laws that they work with professionally; businessmen often seem to engage because they see power as a tool to achieve their goals. 

But in truth, even those two groups of people seldom have "expertise" in the various mechanisms of government such as policy creation, or managing topics like foreign affairs.

So, how do I propose we address this?

The Cass Review and the WPATH SOC

The Cass Review draws some astonishing conclusions about the WPATH Standards of Care (SOC) . More or less, the basic upshot of the Cass Rev...