Tuesday, April 24, 2012

2012 Alberta Election Results: Quick Thoughts and Vlog Post

Well, that was fun! Here is a quick post on my thoughts on the results of the 2012 Alberta election.

 The 2012 Alberta general election is finally in the books and this will prove to be one of the most interesting elections in Alberta history.  The series of missteps and amazingly incorrect polls will be analyzed over the next few weeks by all parties.  It has been one of the nastiest, most passionate campaigns in Alberta history as anyone on twitter will likely confirm.   

  I was really shocked by the lack of accurate polling over the entire course of the campaign.  Right from the start of the campaign, the Wildrose Party was showing massive leads in every single poll.  While there are probably a lot of explanations pending as to why the polls ended up so incorrect, it is clear that the Wildrose dropped a ton of support among "main street" Albertans following the "foot in mouth" moments by a few WRP candidates.  The slow response by the Wildrose Party proved to spook a lot of Albertans, in my opinion.

  In talking to many casual political followers, it became clear that some people were uncomfortable with the statements made during the last weeks of race and it looks like it became a defining issue at the end.  It is not a PCAA/Liberal conspiracy as many are saying.  I do not believe that the WRP is a racist party at all. It simply proved to be a lack of damage control by the leader in the form of a quick, honest response. 

 I think that the Wildrose may have made a mistake by failing to promote their candidates at the local level.  It seemed like the strategy was "all leader...all the time".  It seemed that every ad was targeted around Danielle Smith and really failed to highlight the local candidates.  The fact that the public really did not know much about the local politicians that were running under the WRP banner likely added to the perception that they did not know who they were voting for or what they stood for.

 Here is a quick vlog post about my thoughts on the election results.


For full election results, head over to http://results.elections.ab.ca/wtResults.htm

The analysis in the days and weeks to come will be interesting. I hope to have a detailed post following up on the results once the dust settles. 

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Our Failed Attempt To Buy Garth Brooks Calgary Stampede Concert Tickets!

  Anyone that knows my wife Becky will attest to the fact that she is probably the biggest Garth Brooks fan in Calgary.  She has been a fan for close to twenty years and she loves his music and his humble persona.  When we heard that Garth Brooks would be performing a special concert in Calgary, in honor of the Calgary Stampede's 100th anniversary, she was ecstatic to say the least.  I often joke that she loves the country crooner more than me and she even walked down the aisle to an instrumental version of his song "She's Every Woman" when we got married in 2007.

 When the ticket sales were announced, I knew that they would sell out very quickly but like most Calgarians, I figured we had a good shot at securing some tickets online.  As the 10am online sales time neared, Becky was turning into a nervous wreck as she dreaded the thought that we would not be as lucky as I anticipated.  When the sales opened, I clicked the "process order" button at five seconds after ten and was elated that I was going to be able to score some tickets to the hottest show to come to Calgary in years.  As the seconds passed, my joy to turned to shock....then dread.... as the message came back saying that no tickets were available! 

  I could hear the panic in Becky's voice downstairs as she was trying to get through also without luck.  After about ten minutes of futile attempts on my part to get tickets, Becky started calling all of her friends, praying that someone we know was able to get through.  Unfortunately, no one else was able to get tickets either.  Over the next hour or so, it became clear on social media sites that many people in Calgary were furious that tickets were available online from secondary ticket markets like StubHub and Kijiji at outrageous prices.

  Garth Brooks in notorious for his dislike of ticket scalpers and always tries to ensure that as many fans as possible can see his shows.  Many Calgarians will remember the "wrist band" system that was used when he played a set of shows here in 1996 and that scenario worked out well as it blocked out the scalpers.  While I understand that his Calgary show really comes down to supply and demand issues, I am sure Garth was furious when he heard that his show sold out in less than a minute but thousands of tickets were already for sale by the online brokers.  I don't know what else could have been done to prevent this fiasco, but it sure left thousands of fans shocked at the outcome.

  Becky and I were fortunate enough to do a fun interview for CBC Calgary on Saturday about this adventure, which can been seen on the link below. ( Its the lead story at the beginning.)

 Since this show will take place on the weekend of our fifth wedding anniversary, I am really hoping that some more tickets become available.  Maybe the Stampede gods will find a way to add a second show.  Failing that, perhaps Garth can mail some tickets over my way and make me the best husband in the world.  :)

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Friday, April 13, 2012

The Alberta 2012 Election Twitter Echo Chamber

  Most people that know me will confirm that I love to use Twitter and think that is an amazing social media platform.  Over the past three years, I have been engaged on this medium and have met some outstanding Calgarians of all party stripes online.  I have become friends with a diverse group of people on twitter that I probably would never have met in real life.  Over the past few years we have always had a great banter and while we often disagreed, we could have a respectful debate.  This can best be seen through the diverse group of bloggers and media people that often get together for "Politweet" meet-ups, usually generously hosted by Joey Oberhoffner and Derrick Jacobson.  These tweetups take place with people from the entire political spectrum and truth be told, we all get along just fine!  That said, not all of the twitter engagement over the past few weeks with respect to #abvote has been as ideal.

  I have noticed that over the past month the tone from all parties on Twitter has gotten a tad nasty.  Its OK for all parties to disagree, but I am shocked at how personal the attacks against party supporters has become.  A quick scan of the #abvote hashtag will reveal a cesspool of attacks, negative re-tweets and slurs against each PC and WRP supporters.  To be fair, I think that all parties have an equal amount of negativity and I think that the election campaign has increased tensions substantially.  It has gotten so nasty online that I joked that "I hope we can all be friends when this election is over" and I seriously hope the nastiness dies down after April 23.  

  If you think back to the 2010 Calgary Municipal election, the use of Twitter to engage political discussion exploded.  People that were not typically involved or interested in politics used this medium to ask questions and debate issues respectfully.  This healthy debate actually engaged people to get involved and led to an increased turnout on election day and help to inform voters of the issues the city faced.  Fast forward to the Alberta provincial election and the same cannot be said.  The #abvote negativity appears to have driven many average tweeters away from the conversation.  I have heard numerous times that people who try to ask questions or join the debate are "pounced on" from the opposing side, which causes some to just back away from the conversation.

 Since many casual political twitter followers seem to be driven away from the debates, it looks like the only people left screaming are the "usual suspects' ( myself included) and we appear to be just yelling into an endless echo chamber.  If this is true, I often wonder if others think there actually is value in tweeting and trying to debate issues regarding the election?  If PCAA and WRP members just banter back and forth, without outside engagement, what is the point?  (Its not like we are not going to sway each other to vote for the other party!)  It often just comes back to attacks by each side, followed by responses and another attack.  While I have been guilty of this, I have really been getting drained by it all. 

 It will be interesting to see just how bad things get online over the next few weeks.  While its unfortunate that it has gotten so nasty, it is even more shameful that we have driven people away from the conversation. While most of us clearly show which party we support by our avatar "twibbons', we are probably failing to properly and objectively inform the casual twitter user.  Hopefully, we really all can go back to being friends when this is all over and can look toward the example that the Politweet members set in respectful disagreement! 


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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Alberta 2012 Provincial Election Riding Profile: Calgary Southeast

  The riding of Calgary Southeast was created in 2010 with the Alberta provincial boundary changes, due to explosive population growth in this area.  The riding was carved out of Calgary Hays and parts of Calgary Shaw and includes the neighborhoods of Auburn Bay, Chaparral, Copperfield, Cranston, Mahogany, New Brighton and Silverado.  The riding was previously represented by PCAA MLA Art Johnston from 2004-2012. 

  Most of the communities in the riding of Calgary Southeast have all been built after 2000, so this is a dynamic, new suburban area.  The are is also home to the massive new South Calgary Health Campus that is set to open this year.  The area is made up of a lot of young families and professionals. 

The Candidates: 

Brad Carroll ( Liberal)

Rick Fraser ( PCAA)

Bill Jarvis ( WRP)
Marta Warszynski ( NDP)

I will attempt to post some individual interviews with the candidates on this site during the election.

To find out where you vote in Calgary Southeast, head over to this link.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Alberta Election 2012: Which Candidate Will Put Their Foot In Their Mouth First?

  As we head into the second week of the 2012 Alberta provincial election campaign, I am still waiting for a candidate to create a nasty headline with some ill timed comment.  Every campaign has these "foot in mouth" moments and while I am sure that there will be a few over the next few weeks, I am surprised that none have come from the Wildrose Party as of yet.  Sure, we saw the stupid comment by a 23 year old female PCAA staffer, which kicked off a minor "fertili-tweet" flurry, but I am actually talking about candidate campaign mistakes.

  While all parties seem to have an eclectic cross section of candidates, I think the upstart Wildrose has an even greater selection of rookie political candidates than most parties.  The Wildrose members are a passionate bunch and I assume that most of them have joined this new party because of a variety of social or financial conservative touchstones that they are rabid about.  Because of this passion, I am shocked that the candidates ( and most of the WRP twitter-esque types) have gone rather quiet as of late.  That said, after reading Calgary Herald columnist Don Braid's article this morning, I really should not be all that surprised by the silence.

 In the article, Don mentions that his local WRP candidate got a little spooked when he realized he was on Mr.Braid's doorstep!  The nervous candidate then told Don that if he wanted to talk, he would "have to call the Wildrose campaign media team.'  Hmmm....sounds like a classic gag order from the party executive to me!  It is not hard to imagine the fear that the WRP executive must have when they imagine their candidates running wild and talking to reporters during an election.  Without the complete control of the WRP executive talking points at hand ( or some sort of wireless microphone feeding the script to their candidate) they must be afraid that some sort of "foot in mouth" moment will sink the Wildrose campaign in an instant.

  The majority of the (non-political)  people I talk to still are not sure what the Wildrose is all about.  To them, they feel that they are an "extreme right wing" party and I think that the Wildrose knows that a few crazy comments from their candidates will derail their "centrist" message and further cement the undecided voters ill informed image of them.  With that in mind, I can see why it appears that there is an implied "gag order" in place.  I would love to see the list of "DO NOT DISCUSS" issues that each candidate received in their training package.  It will be interesting to see which candidate will be the first to get caught in a media scrum and stray from the official/approved talking points and get themselves in some hot water?


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