Monday, September 14, 2009

Alberta deficit closer to $9 billion than $7

According to the government, the provincial deficit is $6.9 billion, but this does not include the deficits at either AHS, the health superboard, OR at post-secondary institutions.

Lost in the recent debate over healthcare has been the fact that the fiscal problems of Alberta Health Services are over and above the official $6.9 billion shortfall. The superboard is facing a $1.3 billion deficit.

The only politician who seems to have been making an issue out of the fact that the $6.9 billion figure misleadingly understates provincial liabilities is MLA Guy Boutilier. We can thank his expulsion from the government caucus for improving the level of disclosure practiced by our representatives. Those of you who have no need for this sort of consciousness raising are advised to "pull the lever" for P"C" candidate Diane Colley-Urquhart in Calgary Glenmore today!

On another note, Craig Chandler has responded to my criticism of the Dyrholm campaign by claiming that I have, amongst other things, taken Dyrholm's remarks "out of context." When the context is measured public discourse in Alberta, I don't think some of Dyrholm's declarations, like his being "radically pro-life" or his characterization of a government body as "pro-Nazi", can be spun as anything other than what they are: comments that would alienate many mainstream Albertans and therefore the electorate even if they happen to be genuinely heartfelt. "One plays to a certain base in a nomination," says Chandler. In many respects, this is an admission of the cynicism I see in the Dyrholm campaign. While talking with Danielle I raised this issue, although I was thinking (hoping?) that it was more a matter of what one emphasized than manipulative "playing". Danielle would nonetheless have none of it; she was not going to present two faces and that was the end of it. If Danielle Smith has a political failing, it is that she is not Machiavellian enough. I'm reminded of a joke about coming across a gravestone that read "Here lies a politician and an honest man," to which someone retorted, "Amazing that they could get two people into this one plot!".

Chandler argues that what is "radical" is the amount of change required. But his next statement that "fixed election dates [are] radical" is undermined by Mark Dyrholm's unending testimony about all the work he did to elect Stephen Harper's crew. This is the same outfit that talked up fixed election dates to get Alberta votes and then proceeded to ignore their own legislation on the point. Danielle Smith's commitment to fixed election dates is, in contrast, unqualified.

One could make a similar observation about Dyholm's attack on the federal Court Challenges program: as Joseph Ben-Ami has observed, the Harper Tories have resurrected it by launching a program under the same conditions (funding for minority language litigation) as the original.

Ben-Ami points an accusing finger at Conservative "Party apologists", yet we've got them right here in the Dyrholm and Willerton campaigns as they continuely suggest that we should be devoting our energies to defeating the federal Liberals (defeating the provincial government isn't enough of a task?). If the Dyrholm campaign wishes to remind us that we should heed the "base" (sound advice as far as it goes), the federal Conservative party is doing the exact opposite.

What matters is policies, not the party. If we are going to attack Diane Colley-Urquhart for putting her party over policy (or people) then let's show some consistency and not make an issue out of federal party loyalty.

On another unrelated note, Elections Alberta is going after Joe Anglin about a mass mail-out his group sent out to Glenmore residents.
According to Anglin, although the group purposely targeted Calgary-Glenmore voters, the households were picked by estimating their location through postal codes, then purchasing a mass mail-out through Canada Post. He said he doesn't have access to electoral lists.
I just wanted to state that Anglin is very credible here because this is exactly what I did for mail-outs when I was a candidate in the last election. I didn't end up having any use at all for the list of electors, which the returning officer provided to me in the form of a big stack of paper.

Let me clarify something. My grievance with the Dryholm campaign is primarily concerned with what they are telling people privately. I wouldn't be making an issue out of what has been said publicly if I hadn't heard reliable reports that the public messenging is just the tip of the iceberg.


Craig B. Chandler said...

You take a grain of truth and distort it.

We say nothing privately we do not say in public.

It is sad to see Smith supporters spending so much of their time attacking Mark rather then talking of why you feel Danielle Smith is better.

Brian Dell said...

Speaking for myself, I think Danielle sells herself so long as she has the opportunity to make her case. And she can't answer the charges made in phone calls and letters to certain target groups if that's the only communication these people receive from the party.

In any case, from what I gather your campaign is competitive and there is a real prize at stake here given tonight's big win in Glenmore which we can both celebrate.