Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Favorite Posts of 2009!

  Wow...what a year it has been!  I thought a nice lazy post would involve me looking back through all of my posts in 2009 and making a quick list of my favorite ones.  Going through the list I was amazed at some of the things that were going on politically and locally during the year, most of which seems so irrelevant now.  I found that many of my beliefs on some of these subjects were different than what I think today, which I found fascinating.  As I creep up on my first year of blogging, I am amazed at some of the nonsense I write about!

Any ways, here is a quick list of links my favorite posts during 2009:

January:  WOW! Could they be any more arrogant?

February: No Sympathy for Calgary's Millionaire Mayor

March:  When did Calgary become a Socialist city?

April:  More Sugarplums from Ald. Druh Farrell

May: "Don" Andre (Soprano) Chabot protects his turf

June: George Dadamo...One Ambitious Fellow  and  WAP Leadership Race via Social Network Stats!

July: Only $25Million for this Peace bridge...are you sure?

August:  McCarthyism & Why the Wildrose Alliance will never succeed!

September:  Wildrose Alliance Membership Sales.... PART 1  or Who Is the Best Looking Candidate?

October: Alberta PC Party...Be Careful What You Wish For!

November: Survivor: Red Deer.. Ed Stelmach PC Leadership Vote

December:  Who Is Really Blocking Alberta's Cellphone Law?

My most popular posts in terms of traffic still seem to be the two rants I did on Concrete Equities.  If you have not seen them, here are the links:

1)  Concrete Equities.."No Money Now....or Later?
2)  Concrete Equities? Not so great after all...( and how I dodged that bullet!)

My Favorite moments of the year?

1) My Wife telling me she was pregnant!  ( Check out my dad blog at

2) Meeting the Prime Minister! 

Well, it has been a blast!  Happy 2010 to Everyone and I look forward to wasting more of your time in the new year! 


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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone ! ( A Canadian Christmas Tradition)

Eilerts Jul Everyone!

  It is a misconception that Canadians and Americans do not know that much about one another. We share many similar cultural phenomenons including McDonald's, Celine Dion, Micheal Buble, the Internet and Nickelback. ( can have them though!) Some people are shocked to learn that while we have a different day for Thanksgiving, our Christmas Holiday's mysteriously fall on the same day as our American friends. While Canadians still practice most of the same Christmas traditions as the Americans, I thought I would share some of the Canadian Christmas nuances with our American friends! Here are some of my thoughts:
  • Not many people know that Santa is actually a Canadian as he is from the North Pole. Like most good Canadians, he always leaves the country for fame and recognition, only to come back for its Peace, Order and Good Government...not to mention the free health care!
  • Many people in Canada believe that in addition to being a wonderful singer of Christmas songs, Elvis Presley was actually one of Santa's most trusted elves. It is believed that Santa appointed Elvis as a famous singer so he could distribute gifts to the people that Santa missed. Many people think Elvis was just being generous when he gave away cars and jewellery to total strangers, but he was really just completing Santa's delivery list!
  • It is a Christmas tradition in Canada to dress up as Elvis ( as I have above) and sing Christmas Songs. The sewing of Elvis Christmas costumes was once the third largest export from Canada after talented Alan Thicke, maple syrup and Cirque du Soleil! In memory of Elvis the Santa Elf, we also like to make Fried Peanut Butter and Back Bacon Sandwiches on Christmas morning. Yummy!

  • No Canadian Christmas morning would be complete without the Elvis dance off. Before you can open your presents, everyone must gather in a circle around the Christmas tree and break off your best Elvis moves! The winner gets to be the first to open a present and is allowed to have extra sugar sauce on their deep fried turkey that night! I have been practicing for wish me luck!

I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas or as we say in Canada...Eilerts Jul! ( In the Canadian language, this means "Elvis Christmas")
Note: If you have not already clicked the "back" button on your screen... As you are probably aware, I am completely joking about this! We don't eat back bacon in Canada....

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Who Is Really Blocking Alberta's Cellphone Law?

 Once again it looks like Alberta has missed the boat.  Earlier this week it looks like the Stelmach government will once again delay (or kill)  MLA Art Johnston's distracted driving bill.  Art is my MLA and I know how hard he has worked on this bill.  As a former police officer he truly believes that it will save lives.  In the Herald article Monday, I sensed his frustration and kudos for him for speaking his mind about his disappointment.  This bill has been in the works forever and keeps getting pushed into "committee" so the old boys can delay it.  With friends like these.....

 Trying to read between the lines, I am at a loss as to why the government would be so opposed to it.  I know that some use the argument about "government interference in our personal lives", but we are talking about texting/calling while driving here people!  I like to speed sometimes also, but that damn government and all their rules and such just will not let me.  The Premier has a long list of "reasons" about enforcement and such, but Don Braid shot holes through that in his article today.

 So what is the real reason for the government push-back?  I think its quite obvious.... its the rural folk.  The rural Albertan's have been cursing this bill since its inception.  They don't like to be told "what to do" and I think that the PC party is scared of pissing them off and losing their valuable votes.  To me, I am at a loss as to why a small group of people can dictate the social, legal and financial policy of the rest of the province.  Rural issues matter, but not at the expense of the safety of the rest of Albertans.  God forbid some Andy Griffith look-a-like pull over Bubba for talking on the ol' CB while driving.

 What's next for my rural-run government? A cabinet full of Rural MLA's that are sympathetic to needs of Calgary/Edmonton?  Perhaps they will push some sort of Royalty Review now that the rural hotels are empty, save for the drunks who sit at the stools all day and talk about the good ol days of Strom and Manning.  Perhaps they will work on a plan to get their budget balanced and allow MLA's to speak their minds and allow good bills to pass in this province.

 As I stated, I think the Government is scared of alienating the rural vote.  Perhaps they should consider alienating urban voters and supporters that are hanging on by a thread. 

I wish.  10-4 Good Buddy!


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Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Fun! Schmenge Brothers Christmas ( and Paul Hinman's Acting Debut?)

  I came across this video highlighting the Schmenge Brothers Christmas traditions and I must say, they are almost like any traditional Canadian family.  Who doesn't look forward to 15lb Cabbage rolls on Christmas Day?  I honestly believe that Cabbage Rolls and Coffee are an institution in many Canadian homes this time of year.  I am not sure about the Christmas Egg or the Christmas Budgie, but to each their own!

  A few months ago, I did a post on a PSA that the Schmenge Brothers did encouraging Wildrose Supporters to get out and vote!  While I suspected that they were just doing their part for democracy, I now have reason to believe that they are in fact "card carrying" party members.  If you watch the video, there is a gentleman that sure looks a lot like Paul Hinman. I have posted a screenshot above also.  I wonder why WAP leader Danielle Smith was not invited to this party?  Why was she left out of the festivities?

Watch the video on YouTube here.... right at the 1:09 mark and decide for yourself if this in fact Mr. Hinman!

Happy Weekend!


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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Harper Assassination Photo

Source: Metro Calgary

When I saw this a few minutes ago, I got this sick feeling in my stomach. 

Anyone who visits this site knows that I can appreciate sarcasm and humorous pictures.  But this is just too much.  It is sickening to think that the Liberal Party of Canada would allow this on their website.  There is nothing funny about the murder of our world leaders. It is an embarrassment to your party and an embarrassment to Canadians. puke, here is the out you have been looking for.  I hope you resign sooner than later.



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Six Months Smoke Free!

Oh Fred & Wilma!  No wonder the baby boomers started smoking at 10 years old!

  After 15 years as a pack a day smoker, I have finally hit that six month smoke free hurdle!  It was relatively easy to quit, thanks to the wonders of modern medicine!  As I have little to no will power, I found that  smoking cessation prescriptions worked just dandy for me!  I tried both Champix and Zyban over the past tow years, but Zyban finally worked for me.  ( Note: Champix turned me into a robot and changed my personality...but it worked.  Zyban caused me to get NO SLEEP for a month...but without the crazy side effects.)  I really do respect those who quit "cold turkey"!

 Do I still miss it?  Absolutely! Especially if I am having a drink!  I found myself contemplating having "just one little puff" a few times over the past few months, but held off.  I know that once I have another cigarette, I will be back on Tobacco Road again for good!  I must confess that I do feel better since I quit and really do not miss spending $300+ a month on those tasty little buggers. 

Why did I quit?  Mostly because of my family!  With my wife expecting on 12/31/2009, I figure that now was the time to make it happen.  I also got sick and tired of being a social outcast and having to go outside like an animal when smoking in public.  Whatever the reason, I am just thankfull that I no longer smoke.

 Don't worry...I refuse to become one of those "Ex-Smokers" that have that attitude towards those that still smoke.  After all, I know where they are coming from.

Wish me luck for another 6 months! 


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Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Fun: Ric McIver and The Duke Save Calgary!

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  With all of this nasty snow ( And yes, I would love to blame Bronco for this weather at this time...) I thought we can use a little laugh! 

 Watch Ric and "The Duke" give our Lefty friends a good old fashioned snowball lesson!

Stay Warm.


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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dog Park Fee Foolishness


You know, some days I just read the paper and shake my head.  But today, when I read about the City of Calgary's wonderful idea to consider charging pet owners an annual fee to use local off leash parks, I just laughed.   Never one to miss a media scrum, I see our "top dog catcher" Bill Bruce has provided his lovely opinion about his favorite topics, Fees and Social Engineering projects.  ( For more on old Bylaw Billy, check out this post.)

  As a dog owner that lives in the Deep Southeast, I can confirm that there is definitely a shortage of off leash parks in Calgary.  We have to trek to Southland Park for a reasonably clear park to walk the dogs.  Now, I don't need anything fancy, just a clear track of grass with a fenced in area.  No playgrounds, swimming ponds or dog beaches required.  This does not cost money...just land. 

Some people will say "I don't have a dog, why should my taxes pay for these parks"?  Well, there are 100,000 dogs in Calgary and they all need to be walked somewhere.  A healthy city must include a ton of green space and open area's for dogs and their owners to walk in.  Remember, we are not in Manhattan folks. 

 I would not pay a cent for the use of an off leash park and hope that common sense prevails with this foolish idea.  If they proceed with it, I wonder what is next?  Charging parents fees to allow their kids to use the playgrounds?  What about fees for couples who use the sidewalks for romantic after dinner strolls?  Think about it.


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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bronco's Running Scared!

  Give it up Dave!  Our Mayor, Dave Bronconnier just refuses to let the campaign fundraising issue go.  He brought this issue up last February and continues to push it in advance of the 2010 Calgary Municipal Election.  If you really think about it, it is not hard to see why!   His last challenger, Alnoor ( I will fund this campaign myself) Kassam caused Dave to spend a larger chunk of his campaign war chest than he hoped for, in order to compete in 2007.  Alnoor was never a serious threat, unlike the uphill battle the mayor is facing in 2010. 

 If Alderman Ric McIver decides to run for Mayor, he will win in a landslide.  So, if you are an unpopular, lame duck Mayor on his way out the door, what do you do?  Limit your challengers ability to raise funds.  I do not necessarily disagree with the "new" rules they are proposing, but I think that it is unfair to impose them on an existing group.  Like I said before, "Why Now Bronco"?...  if he is  so keen on the new rules, why should he be able to use the $300K+ that he already has stored in his mattress?  Why not just donate it to charity now and just run on the money you raise going forward.  Not likely?  You better believe it....

 Personally, I do not think Bronco is going to run again, regardless of what he has said publicly.  I believe that he announced his "intention" to run again to stop the flow of funds from his arch-rival, Ric McIver.  Bronco is a lame duck mayor and knows that if he announced he would not seek re-election, he would not be able to try and push through his socialist policies on the citizens of Calgary in 2009/10.   I can foresee a "change of heart" come August, when he will announce that he wants to spend "more time with his family" and not run for Mayor.

 If he does run again, the $5000 cap is not a big deal to him.  Take a look at his campaign contribution disclosure from 2007 here.  Most of the donations are under $5,000, save  a few giant donations from some of Calgary's largest construction/development companies.  It is truly an interesting ( and telling) read. 

Either way...I am just hoping that Ric McIver announces his intention to run.  I have a new pair of runners for door knocking and a piggy bank full of coins to donate.  Don't worry, it will be under $5,000 though!

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Fun! Black Friday Madness...

 You have to love our American friends and their wonderful traditions.  Especially the annual event that follows the day after Thanksgiving.... the wonderfully coined "Black Friday".  After spending the day with loved ones discussing what they are thankful for, watching NFL football and eating turkey until they pass out, our friends to the south then embark on their real national pastime..... Shopping !( aka.. running up the old credit card)

 Every year, we see the same type of footage... people stampeding through the doors to get at the 99 cent DVD's and the homer Simpson "soap on a rope" deals.  I cant wait for tonight's footage!

 Can you imagine a Canadian Black Friday?  I doubt it would happen here because...

1) It usually too freaking cold during the End of November to line up all night outside.

2) We are just too darn polite.  There would be no pushing and shoving.  I can see it now... "Please, after you, let me get the door." or" No, after you....I insist."  and " Oh, you wanted the the last $5 Lava, take mine instead.". 

I cant wait for tonight's footage!


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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Babies, Blogs and well...Baby Blogs!

Some of you know that Mrs. Rants and I are expecting a Baby on New Years Eve!  Due to my recent frustrations with the local political scene, I have found that I needed to take a step back from the political blogging over the past few weeks as every time I went to post something, I found myself kind of mad/angry. ( Hard to believe?)  So as a source of "therapy"...I have decided to start a DaddyBlog at

 While this is a completely different direction, I find the freedom of being able to write what about something new kind of refreshing.  Feel free to check it out and let me know if you have any comments about the site or recommendations for me.

 To my favorite sparring partners... Political Foolishness, Fiscal Waste and WAP Supporters ( kidding), sorry but I am not shutting this one down.  Not by a long shot. In fact, I think that after 10 months, I have found my feet on this blog and have decided what I want this site to be about.   And with a Municipal Election coming....look out!


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Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Fun: A Saskatchewan Christmas

I cant get the opening line of the jingle out of my head...Sing along everyone!
" It's fun to milk her...gonna do it right now..."

I hear that people in Saskatchewan are actually lining up at the Wal-Mart's to be the first in line for the reissue of this classic toy.  It could resemble the scene from the 1980's when everyone fought hard to get those creepy Cabbage Patch Kid dolls. ( The whole "adoption" message with those dolls is really kind of freaky...)

This toy is just great.  I think Kenner was onto something here and really should bring Milky the Cow back. Who needs video games and interesting toys when you play with a pretend cow?  I just wonder where you would get additional "pre-tend milk pellets" once you ran out?  Could you drink this "pre-tend" milk?  So many questions....

One more time...

 " It's fun to milk her...gonna do it right now..."   " her PRE-tend milk is a-filling the pail"

Oh, I cant take it....its just too funny.

Happy Friday!


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Wednesday, November 18, 2009


  A lot of fuss has been made over the state of Calgary's Taxi Service and licensing status of late.  I am not an expert on the issue but thought I would let the reader decide for him/herself.  I know that each group will try to push their agenda and naturally lobby for their side.  But if you look closely at the issue at hand, taking all the emotion out of the picture ( eg.the time it took 2 hours to get a cab during stampede or during the company Christmas party.), you will see an industry that is really at a crossroads.

Some Brief History:

Calgary has a population of over 1,000,000, but just 1,311 regular taxi licences.  Its hard to believe, but this is exactly the same number of plates that existed in 1986, when Calgary's population was around 600,000 people.

You have to wonder....why were there no new licenses during this time? ( Note: The City did add 100 Special licenses for special needs taxicabs.)   I think it comes down to this:

1) The industry cried for a Freeze 20 years ago as the drivers/owners could not make a living due to the "excess" capacity of cabs.

 Interesting.... The industry demands a cap on the issuance of new Taxi Plates in order to ensure that there is enough work to go around.  Fast forward 20 years and we are now hearing people scream for more taxi's.

2) Successful Political Lobbying and Fat Cats.

One of the basic principles behind supply and demand is scarcity. Once you have a hard time obtaining something ( or they stop making it) the value will naturally increase.  This is exactly what happened to the Taxi license plates in Calgary.  These plates are now rumoured to be worth $100,000 each.  Nice investment for the handful of Cab magnates that control the plates in this city.

 If you start adding more plates, then the value becomes diluted.  Its no wonder the Fat Cats don't want the system changed.  It would appear that the cab companies have been super  successful in keeping the status quo for 20 years.  I am curious to see what their campaign contributions were over this time period, as this influence over the Taxi Commission cannot be discarded,  but I guess that is for another post.

So what is the answer?

  The problem cannot be addressed by simply opening the floodgates and allowing an unlimited amount of new Taxi Plates. I do believe that during 80% of the time, it is easy to get a cab in this city.  Unfortunately it is during the 20% extreme peak season when everyone freaks out ( when a majority Calgarians likely only depend on their service 2-3 times a year max.) once they realize it is nearly impossible to get service. 

 If the industry is really concerned with addressing the shortage, and not solely on their own economic agenda, perhaps the following idea will work?

  • Why not issue temporary additional licenses during the peak season?  ( Christmas, Stampede etc.)  This will allow some new entrants into the system and ease the shortage issues.
If you want to see what NOT to do....take a look at the situation in Airdrie today.  I am usually in Airdire twice a week and I have noticed a TON of new cab companies operating there.  The problems mentioned in this article are exactly what Calgary wanted to avoid when they established the Taxi Commission.  As a commercial insurance broker, I wonder if these Airdrie Taxi's are actually carrying the proper type of insurance, which could be a huge legal issue to the City of Airdrie as they seem pretty slack on their regulations.  ( But again, this can be saved for another post!)

So during the Christmas Party season approaches, be sure to think about this issue and post your thoughts!



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Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Fun!

 Friday!  Day of the intelligent blog post of the week.  This video was forwarded to me by fellow blogger The Alberta Altruist as a reminder to use my Friday blog properly! 

It is quite funny, but shows how silly some of our stereotypes are.  But sorry, no sympathy for terrorists ( real or imaginary) on this site today.

Happy Friday!


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Monday, November 9, 2009

Make It Your Problem!

  I had the opportunity to volunteer some time this morning at an amazing charity called " Brown Bagging For Calgary's Kids Society" or BB4CK.  I must confess that I was quite moved by the experience and thought that I should share my thoughts with everyone.

 I met BB4CK executive director Bob McInnis through twitter, then a few days later at a Charity golf event he was volunteering at.  I was pretty impressed with the organization and Bob himself, so I decided to donate some time.  I must say that the experience was fun and rewarding at the same time, which is pretty hard to say for most volunteer work.

 What really shocked me was the level of demand that BB4CK meets.  It is really sad to me that in a city as wealthy as Calgary, there are thousands of children that go hungry in this city.  My wife is a teacher and she has always told me that lack of proper nutrition leads to decreased concentration in school, lack of attention and reduced academic performance.  By meeting the nutrition needs of these children, BB4CK is actually making a difference in their lives.  Today, we made over 1500 lunches. 1500!

We take for granted something as simple as having a bag lunch available for our kids.

  As a child that grew up with modest economic means, I can appreciate what they are trying to accomplish here.  As an adult, I am thankful that I have the resources to contribute time and money to excellent charities like this each month. 

I would really encourage everyone to check out their website and consider donating some of your time and/or cash.

Make It Your Problem!

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Survivor: Red Deer.. Ed Stelmach PC Leadership Vote

  As you can tell, I am not graphically gifted!  If I was, I would have changed the slogan to "Outvote - Outwait - Outlast"

 With the Alberta PC party convention approaching this Saturday, much has ( or had, up until this week) been said about the future of Premier Stelmach's future as the leader of the Alberta PC Party, pending the result of his mandatory leadership review.  While I have made my thoughts clear on this on a previous post, I was thinking about what Ed must be feeling after watching the latest episode of Survivor tonight!

 If you are familiar with the show, you know that at the end of each episode the "tribe" is required to vote off one of their members by secret ballot. ( sound familiar?)    Usually, the person voted out falls into one of the following categories:

  •  Weakest Player

  •  Bossiest Player

  •  Strongest Competitor

  •  Player that just does not fit.

 The Tribe may not always get it right, but they ultimately hold the power as to how long you stay in the game!  Sometime people forget this key fact and act like they have never ending  immunity, to their own peril.

Often, you will get a player that is very nice and unassuming that just flies under the radar and wins the whole prize!  Other times, people just need a scapegoat and want to punish someone to protect their own position in the government, oops.. I meant game.

You also find that once a player realizes that their head is on the chopping block, they will "scramble" around the island and try to convince enough people to vote for them so they can stay in the game. While I am not sure if this is happening to Ed, I can confirm that no one was really pushing me to attend the PC convention this weekend, nor have I seen any "urgency" in getting delegates to attend. This leads me to believe two things:

1) This PC board member's delegate vote was not important to the party as they likely have a bus full of waiting delegates.

2)  The party is confident that they have enough support votes to support Ed, thus  will avoid a blindside vote at tribal council on Saturday!

Either way, this weekends event will make for excellent political drama and discussion.  And come Saturday...

"The tribe will have spoken!"

Good Luck....


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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ron Liepert really should hire this guy for H1N1 Communications

"Bartle-Doo" indeed! 

  With all of the Government of Alberta's miscommunication about the H1N1 Flu Vaccinations, I thought that they may want to consider hiring "Mumbles" the cowboy as their new spokesperson.  I am sure that he will do a much better job at communicating the next wave of  Flu propaganda.  I for one seem to be have an easier time understanding ol'Mumbles better than our current government representatives.

 This just may work.....

Also, remember when 10 days ago when all of the blogs were on fire over Ed Stelmach's leadership review?  That all seemed to die down once the H1N1 fiasco hit.  I am not one for conspiracy theories...but you never know!   I wonder what effect this will have on his review, if any?  Times of crisis and mismanagement call for strong leadership as it helps distinguish mistakes from incompetence and unfortunately, many people that I talk to are not sure which side our government falls on.

Something has got to give.


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Canadian Blog Awards 2009

I was going to do a post on H1N1, but to be honest....I am just getting "sick" of hearing about it.  ( Ha...Ha...ahem.) 

Anyways, I see that the nominations for the 2009 Canadian Blog Awards are now open and I hope that everyone will make a push for an Alberta blogger.   Personally, I think that there are many top notch bloggers in Alberta that likely do not get "national" attention, so I believe it is important to ensure they do not get missed.

 Bloggers like daveberta, E.S, Werner Patels and DJ Kelly actually peaked my interest and got me off the couch and into this blog, so I am nominating them for the award.  I also love the fact  that there is a "new" batch of bloggers that have joined me this year, including The Alberta Altruist and Politicalgary, each who add a fresh perspective to the local blog scene.  I would not be surprised to see any of the above on the nomination list.

 Anyways, take a minute and nominate your favorite blogs.  It literally takes 20 seconds!

The link is here

Now go wash your hands....


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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Premier Ed gets in on the Social Media Wave! ( At least he is trying...)

I was surprised to see this mass email in my inbox today, which I have posted below:

Hello Shane,

Welcome to the first Message from Premier Ed.

This is a new way to reach out to those who are curious about what our government is doing and why we are doing it.
In subsequent messages you will hear directly from me on issues that are on the minds of regular Albertans. At the bottom of these emails, including this one, there will be a link which you can click to take your name off our list. You can resubscribe or unsubscribe as many times as you wish.

Also coming out this week is a new web-based newsletter from the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta, containing interesting articles and other information about our party. Look for it soon in your email inbox.

In the past, we would communicate with the public through phone calls, advertising and direct mail. Today, the internet provides us with much faster, simpler and cheaper ways of getting our message out. We will not abandon the old ways but we are offering this and other new ones to reach as many people as possible.

Times have changed quickly. A mere decade ago, there was no Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or YouTube. Google is not much older. Yet many Albertans regularly use these sites to get information and stay in touch with their friends, relatives and colleagues. I have already set up a Facebook supporter page and a Twitter account and now I hope you will read these emails from me so we can stay in touch.

Kindest regards,

Ed Stelmach
Premier of Alberta

  Many of you know that I am a supporter of the PC party and some have picked up on my recent frustrations with my party. I am often frustrated because I feel that this government is failing at the most crucial skill set required....COMMUNICATION. The people of Alberta have historically been able to accept bad news, low oil prices and even a recession or two....but they will not accept poor communication.

  Former Premier Klein was a master of this concept.  He could spit out the worst news possible, but explain it to the public in simple terms.  The people may not like some of the things he had to say, but at least they understand what was done, why it had to be done and what the results will be.  People typically like (and vote) for people who they can identify with and that have some charisma.  If you lack charisma ( ahem.....) then you better be able to communicate your principals and priorities to the public effectively.  The government does not need to buy infomercial time to try and sell vague ideas to the people of Alberta, they just need to communicate their platform clearly and simply.  They have access to every news camera in the province, but often fail to control the message being sent out. 

 The biggest problem of this government right now does not lie in the leadership, but with their communications.  The old saying holds true "if you do not define your message, someone else will define it for you".  This is where the Wildrose Alliance has an advantage with Danielle Smith.  She is a veteran broadcaster ( just like Ralph Klein) and understands how to convey her message in nice little 30 second sound bites.  The PC MLA's are always shown on the news "scrambling" from one error to the next, doing damage control and trying to "change" the message that has been already sent out by the opposition.  When they focus all of their attention to putting out these fires, they fail in their communications to the people of Alberta.  The result?  Instead of looking like a strong, well run government, they often look inept and incompetent, which is not the case at all.

 How can the government improve their communication?  The answer lies in doing something different.  The Premiers social media strategy is a great start, provided it is done well in the future.  I hope that Premier Ed's "messages" are written by him alone not by some unknown staffer.  People are smart and will see through a canned or contrived message. 

 My advice to Ed?  Be honest, be yourself. 


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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Black Jack Trail or Slot Street?

  Earlier this summer, I wondered in the Tsuu T'ina Nation had made a terrible mistake in their rejection of the Provincial Ring Road deal?  I also was not surprised by their decision as they had no real reason to ratify the deal.  Well the City and Province have moved on, and no the Tsuu T'ina may have finally realized that their "Sacred Casino" revenues may be in jeopardy!

 The impending interchange that is being planned for Glenmore and 37 Street will close off the easy access to the Grey Eagle casino, which has the Nation in a state of anger (or panic?).   The leadership of the band should have anticipated this, but once again...greed likely got in the way.  They were likely told that this would be a better location than the main entrance to the Tsuu T'ina at Anderson Road & 37th Street, due to the proximity to the wealthy west side of town.  With no historic access or developed roads in the area, this leaves one way in...and one way out.  Big Mistake. 

 If the road access is closed to the Casino at 37th/Glenmore, the Tsuu T'ina should not panic.  I am sure that the majority of the casino patrons will not mind driving all the way down to 37th/Anderson and taking a scenic cruise through the reserve up to the casino.  Even IF the road is unpaved and has no street lights.  It could be renamed as  "Blackjack Trail", "Slot Street", "Poker Parkway" or my favorite...."Bankruptcy Blvd"!

 Perhaps its time the Tsuu T'ina leaders look at their own Plan B!



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Friday, October 23, 2009

Alberta PC Party...Be Careful What You Wish For!

  What a great time to be interested in politics!  The political developments over the past few months have produced a cornucopia of political stories and introduced a wealth of scenarios that never existed even six months ago.  The election of Daniele Smith as leader of the Wildrose Alliance Party has brought provincial political issues back to the water coolers and dining room tables in Alberta, which I believe is excellent for citizen engagement.  The constant media attention to politics lately has now moved towards Premier Stelmach's popularity in Alberta and his future as the leader of the PC Party.

  With the Alberta PC Party's convention approaching on November 7, many people are wondering how the Premier will fare in his mandatory leadership review?  Former Premier Ralph Klein set a pretty high standard when he commented publicly that anything less than a 70% approval rate will be unacceptable.  (Mr.Klein knows a thing or two about leadership reviews, having been "dumped" by his own party in a 2006 review.)   For all the talk in the media and the blogs about "turfing" Premier Stelmach by ensuring he receives less than 50% support, I must say..." Be careful what you wish for"!

 IF...and I must say IF... Mr Stelmach were to receive a low support level and resign as leader, who is going to replace him?  I cannot think of any one candidate that jumps out as the logical choice, but then again, who predicted that Ed would replace Ralph? 

 Lets look at some of the potential replacements..

  Now, I am sure that there are many, many others that may fall into the rumour mill list!  I am not going to comment on the list above, as I want to know your thoughts? 

 Personally, I believe that Mr. Stelmach will survive the leadership review this year.  I cannot see the PC party dumping the leader at this point.  This will look like a "reactionary" move and with a Provincial election still at least 3 years away, a "panic" move is so unnecessary.  Slow down...take a few breaths...think things through folks.  Perhaps Mr.Stelmach is not the only problem here? 

Many people think that a new leader will solve all of the image problems with the PC Party.  Others think that the party is beyond repair and doomed to failure.  I believe the problem lies with the Governments ability to effectively communicate with the people of Alberta.   I think that all party members should take a long look in the mirror and work together over next year to fix these problems internally first.

 What are your thoughts?  Do you think the Premier will survive the leadership review?  If not, who do you think will replace him as the next leader of the Alberta PC Party? 


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Monday, October 19, 2009

Danielle Smith wins the Wildrose Alliance Leadership....Now what?

  First off, I would like to congratulate Danielle Smith for her impressive victory in the Wildrose Alliance Leadership race this weekend.  While I am not yet a supporter of her party, I am amazed by her ambition and work ethic in her approach to achieving this goal.  Having met Danielle socially and spoken to her a few times, I was intrigued by her campaign.  Most readers of this blog may feel that I gave Mark Dyrholm an unfair shake, as seen in some of these posts: ( I'll let you have a quick chuckle and decide for yourself)

It took a while, but most of my opponents finally realized that there was a lot of sarcasm in these posts.  Even Craig Chandler finally got in on the joke and let me know he knew where I was coming from.  I should also congratulate Mark for standing up for his beliefs and running for the leadership.  I know it took a lot of time and resources to run, so I can respect those sacrifices.

 Just over a month ago, there were massive rumours floating around that Dyrolm's team was outselling memberships by 2-1 over Danielle.  This is odd, considering that the votes went 3-1 for Danielle.  Was there a last minute push by the new members to ensure that Danielle would win ( or to ensure a Dyrholm loss), or was this a strategic plant?   Part of the rumour was quite vicious, so I am not sure what happened.  Politically, it is interesting though. 

 So now that Danielle Smith has won, whats next?   I believe that the momentum of this movement will slowly start to stall, as the "excitement" of the leadership race is now over.  Here are some random questions that I have:

What direction will the Wildrose Alliance move to with its policy and platform?  The membership has spoken loud and clear with a 3-1 vote for Danielle and her "libertarian" ways.  To me, this shows that the party does not want to make a move to the far right on social issues, as Dyrholm would have liked. This is dangerous for the PC's, as they will be treading after the "average" Albertans vote.  I am curious to see where the party will go now with Danielle as its leader.  If they move to a more socially moderate platform, I think they can be a real force.  If not, it will likely be back to fringe-party status.

 Who gets the media attention now?   With Paul Hinman the only WAP MLA, who gets the soundbite on the 6pm news everyday?  Hinman or Smith?  I cannot see Danielle just parroting the comments made by Hinman, but it seems rather silly to have a leader without a seat commenting instead of Hinman.  Will Danielle simply wait outside the Legislature for the media scrum after watching it in the galley? What will Hinman do...simply deflect the media questions to the leader?  How will this work?

 Will there be any PC defections now?  I previously posted on this, but this has likely changed over the past few weeks.  Check out Ezra Levant's "Predictions" on twitter! 

 Finally, back in May I did my first blog post ever on the WAP, I asked the question " Is the Wildrose Alliance Party the real deal"?  Looking back, less than six months ago, and I cannot believe how much has changed in the Alberta political landscape.  Are they the real deal?  Not yet...but with the new leader and a good set of policy, they will be.  Perhaps Danielle Smith said it best this weekend..." Ed Stelmach, you haven't even begun to imagine what's about to hit you"....

Hopefully my party wakes up and takes notice before its too late. 


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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mark Dyrholm's last stab at attention, before he goes back into obscurity...

 How Embarrassing. 

 I caught wind on Twitter about Mark ( The Media is unfair and out to get me) Dyrholm and his whining about the media's bias towards Danielle Smith.  This is is just absurd.  I do not care who Danielle Smith used to work with or what station her husband works for now,  as it just does not matter in this case.  Does the Dyrholm team seriously think that that the Alberta/National media is really out to get him and his 'conservative" ways.  Mark is truly "jumping the shark" here and realizes that he cannot win the Wildrose Alliance Leadership, so is trying to create a last minute issue for his poorly run campaign.  Either that, or it is a poor, poor attempt at mimicking Wayne Gretzky's famous "nobody wants us to win" speech in the 2002 Olympics.

 To be honest, this blogger has also been accused of being biased against Mark.  Many times in fact.  The truth is, I do not believe for a minute that the "Media" is out to get him.  In my opinion, I would not want to put a live camera in his face on the 6pm News.  I have seen Bingo Callers that have more charisma and a better cadence to their voice.  Remember last month when Charles Adler called him Mark "DRY-Holm"....he was dead on my friends.  Adler also stated that he was accused of not giving him equal time, but declared that the man did not make a good enough phone in caller, let alone "radio guest"....yikes.

  Before you blame the media for you lack of attention, perhaps he would consider getting some sleep before going on TV...or at the very least, borrow he could some of his wife's eye cream.  At least then, he would look a little more presentable and perhaps get some more interviews. 

Also, I wonder how many "interviews" Mark has been told to turn down, because the source was not "friendly enough" to his campaign. 

Good Luck to you.  After Saturday, you will be back to manipulation.  Manipulating backs that is...and not the Alberta Voter.  I guess running was not such a good idea?

The video can be found at the Calgary SE News blog.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Random Rants on a Cold October Morning!

 Well welcome back winter!  Yikes!  After a record high less than 3 weeks ago, Calgary has plunged into the ice once again.  Hopefully it will be a winter filled with safe commutes, clear roads and many long Chinooks! I thought I would share some random thoughts....

  •  I FINALLY got my blog to work properly, even though it took over a month!  Thanks to Nicole for answering my twitter "cry for help" and showing me how to fix it in one email!  She has a neat blog for all of you parents out there...check it out at

  • It looks like the Wildrose Alliance Party's surge in membership has caused some issues in ensuring that all of the ballots were sent to the members in a timely manner.  From some of the "frantic" press releases and emails that I have seen, it sure looks like many of the ballots will not make it to the vote on time.  I wonder which candidate this will benefit from this?  I am sure one of the groups already has a private mail truck ready to drive to each church, seniors home and private residence in Alberta to pick up their candidate's ballots.  If they do not figure it out, it would look kind of silly for Alberta's "party in waiting".   It should be interesting!  Thoughts?

  •  I had the opportunity to head to Great Falls, MT for the first time ever this past weekend!  I was amazed at this small town and would love to go back.  We were on a mission for cheap baby clothes for our upcoming birth in late December.  The deals were amazing, the city was clean and safe and I would recommend it to anyone.  I also noticed how friendly all of the retail/restaurant service staff was when you compare it to Calgary.  After pondering it for a while, my guess is that the service is better for the following reasons... 1) They are happy to have a JOB in the battered USA economy.  2) They understand that Canadians "bread their butter", so to speak.  Looking around, I would assume that Canadian tourism is likely one of their biggest economic industries. 

Stay warm and drive safe!


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Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Fun: Five Neat Guys!

Friday Fun is back!  After a few missed Friday's and the reminder from our friend The Alberta Altruist ) I have posted a video that made me laugh pretty hard this morning.  I forgot all about this classic "boy band" of yesteryear.  With classics like " She Does It" and " Who Made the Egg Salad Sandwiches", this album is sure to please! 

Even better, have a peak at the 5 Neat Guys Gold album below!  I love the rockabilly anthem "Pimples and Pockmarks" and easy listening sound of " Put Some Extra Relish on my Hot Dog".  Ahh, such a simpler time.

Now if only they would start touring again, my weekend would be complete!

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Blogger Risk Management 101

  Well folks, it finally happened!  After 10 months of blogging, I finally had to refuse my first moderated comment on this blog.  I am actually surprised that this was the first time that this happened, given some of the fiery topics that I have discussed on this site.  Most people get my sarcasm and my poor attempts at humour, so I guess this could be the reason for the well behaved comments! 

 I will not repeat or comment on what the comment was about, but lets just say that if I published it, a local political figure would have rightfully sued me on the spot.  And my friends, I just was not going to let that happen.  It would have shut me down pretty quick, and are not going to get rid of me that easy!

 Given some of the high profile cases in the media lately, I began to wonder if my fellow bloggers really understood the risks associated with their posts?  I was not sure, so I decided to post Risk Management-101:

 As a commercial insurance broker, I am well aware of the liability issues surrounding blog posts/online forums and even posts on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter. The Canadian insurance companies are archaic at best and usually they are slow to respond to the changing exposures that the internet offers.

  I have never had a client come to me asking for this coverage, mostly because I believe the scope of people who "need" it is rather small. The amount of blog authors in Canada is relatively tiny compared to the general population. There is not a huge demand for this type of coverage because of this and the fact that most people are actually ignorant to the exposures they face.

  I note that on most home insurance policies ( including the largest Insurance company in Canada) there is an exclusion on the liability section relating to any claims relating to:

"the distribution or display of date (which means anything-including words..HA!) by means of an Internet Website, the Internet, and intranet, extranet, or similar device or system used or intended or electronic communication or data."

Now, the intent of this exclusion is pretty clear. Nothing relating to libel/slander/defamation would be covered. This exclusion also is listed on the Personal Umbrella policy. However, not all insurance companies are up to speed on this and some do not specifically list this exclusion on their home or umbrella liability products.

That said, exclusion or no exclusion, every policy will exclude ' intentional acts'. This means that anyone who posts anything that is knowingly false or libelous, will not have coverage anyway. So basically, the average blogger cannot get coverage for this as it is un-insurable. 

As a blogger ( and commercial insurance broker with a risk management background) I apply simple risk management tests to my own blog. It is actually quite simple and really only involves common sense...
  • Would any of my posts embarrass my family, employer or the organizations that I am a volunteer board member?
  • I may blog about my opinion on a topic, but I only do so on matters that are of public record. ( In the news media) I try not to blog on speculation/rumour unless it is theory or political opinion. I have had to stay away from some good posts because of this!
  • Would I be embarrassed if the post was published in the MSM?
  • If this topic was about me personally, would my reputation be tarnished? 
If the answer is yes, then the risk is mine. 

I know some people like to post anonymously or under creative names, but this will not help you if you slander someone.  So, unless you have a bunch of extra cash...think it through!


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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Do Endorsements Matter in the Wildrose Alliance Leadership Race?

  With the Wildrose Alliance Leadership race now in the final stretch, I found myself wondering if political endorsements really matter?  Does anyone switch their vote based on who has more ( or better) public endorsements?  Is it all for show?  Lets look at some of the public endorsements for each candidate...

Mark Dyrholm's endorsements ( taken from his twitter posts over the past few months & official website) include the following:

  •  Ken Mazzeroll, former candidate for Calgary Currie in 2004. 
  • Tim Bloedow, ECP Centre
  • Randy Hillier
  • Ontario MPP's Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington.
  • Myron Thompson
  • Dianna Brooks, Candidate 2004, Calgary Elbow
  • Justin Wong, Calgary Shaw Constituency Assoc & Business Owner
  • Don Leonardo, Veteran, Former VP, Calgary Egmont Alberta PC Party Association  
  • Jim Blake, National Charman, Concerned Christians Canada Inc.
  • Craig B. Chandler, Executive Director, Progressive Group for Independent Business (PGIB)
Danielle Smith's endorsements ( taken from an email I had received recently) include:

  •  Betty Unger, Alberta senator-elect, Edmonton
  • Link Byfield, Alberta senator-elect and Joanne Byfield, pro-life organizer and activist.
  • Candis McLean, Calgary, investigative journalist and documentary producer.
  • Tom Flanagan, former federal Conservative campaign manager and author.
  • Rainer Knopff, U of C professor and author.
  • Gordon Butler, Past President of the Western Stock Growers’ Association and Property Rights Advocate.
  • Ezra Levant, Western Standard Publisher.
  • Barry Cooper, Professor of Political Science, U of C.
  • David Chatters Reform Party/Conservative MP for Athabasca and Westlock-St. Paul, 1993 -2006
  • Phil Klein, Edmonton, (Ralph’s father)
The scope (and arguably, the quality) of these endorsement varies quite a bit.  I know the conventional wisdom says..." the only endorsements that matter are the votes on leadership day", but I thought it was worth reviewing.  Either camp cannot say they do not care about these endorsements or they would not publicly flaunt them every time the were received. 

Does it make a difference to anyone?  Will it change anyones vote? Does anyone care?  If not, why do people make such a big deal about the endorsments?  What are your thoughts?

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