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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