In Alberta, Redford rewards crony with plum job

Danielle Smith’s Wildrose Party came close to ending the 41-year-old dynasty of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta partly because many voters appeared unhappy with what they saw as the arrogance and entitlement of the ruling party.

Still, Alison Redford led her PCs to a resounding win a week ago, winning another healthy majority and ensuring that the PCs of Alberta will be the longest-lived political dynasty ever in Canada’s history when Albertans next go to the polls in 2016.

And yet, Redford’s choice of her new chief staff suggests she may have missed Albertans’ frustration about Tory entitlement. Redford announced today that Farouk Adatia would be her new chief of staffContinue reading In Alberta, Redford rewards crony with plum job

Politics, Twitter, and the MSM: What to make of it all?

Highly recommend an essay by Jean Burgess and Axel Bruns in a recent issue of Journalism Practice. It’s called “(Not) The Twitter Election: The dynamics of the #ausvotes conversation in relation to the Australian media ecology”. [Like most scholarly publishers, the publishers of this paper insist on locking this up behind a paywall so you’ll have to seek out your favourite library, I’m afraid]  Here’s the abstract:

This paper draws on a larger study of the uses of Australian user-created content and online social networks to examine the relationships between professional journalists and highly engaged Australian users of political media within the wider media ecology, with a particular focus on Twitter. It uses an analysis of topic-based conversation networks using the #ausvotes hashtag on Twitter around the 2010 federal election to explore the key themes and issues addressed by this Twitter community during the campaign, and finds that Twitter users were largely commenting on the performance of mainstream media and politicians rather than engaging in direct political discussion. The often critical attitude of Twitter users towards the political establishment mirrors the approach of news and political bloggers to political actors, nearly a decade earlier, but the increasing adoption of Twitter as a communication tool by politicians, journalists, and everyday users alike makes a repetition of the polarisation experienced at that time appear unlikely.

Some quick notes after reading the paper: Continue reading Politics, Twitter, and the MSM: What to make of it all?

A political basketball tournament — and my big smashed nose

Senator Jim Munson on the court
Senator Jim Munson gets ready to lead his Liberal basketball team.

Played basketball tonight in a four-team tournament: Press Gallery (my team) vs Conservatives vs the NDP vs Liberals. The political teams each had a couple of MPs/Senators supported by lots of young political staffers who play like Steve Nash.

The Media team squeaked by the NDP by 2 points and ended up in the finals against the Conservatives who beat the Liberals. The Liberals were led by the indomitable (if tiny) Senator Jim Munson (right) who were gallant in defeat. The NDP side was led by MPs Peter Julian and Alex Atamanenko playing low post (they’re big guys) with Dennis Bevington and Matthew Dubé being the ball-control wizards.

The Conservatives have an ace in the Hon. Rob Merrifield, the western Alberta MP, who shoots left and apparently doesn’t miss. Also saw lots of flashes of brilliance from MPs Scott Armstrong, David Wilks, and James Bezan.



The pleasant post-game visit to the emergency department
Your correspondent's pleasant post-game visit to the emergency department

In the finals against, the Tories,  things didn’t go well for me or my Media team. The team got thrashed and I left late in the game after my nose connected rather violently with a Conservative elbow. Here’s me (left) in emergency after where I was thrilled to find out I won’t have to see a plastic surgeon. Still, my nose is pointing a different direction as I go to bed tonight than it was when I woke up! I’m told it will heal “straight”. In the meantime, congratulations Conservatives!

Election financing laws: Re-thinking restrictions on third-party spending

I am a great fan of Canada’s political finance laws and the reforms enacted by both the governments of Jean Chretien and Stephen Harper. Among other things, our political finance laws prohibit significant third-party spending during election campaigns. I’ve thought that this limit on freedom of expression was appropriate in that its aim was to provide fair access to the public common during a writ period. Mostly, I look to the U.S. and see the distortions in their political system because of Big Money. Obama will likely spend $1 billion on his re-election campaign this year. $1 billion! I would be surprised if the total spending in Canada’s federal election last year for every local candidate and the national campaigns in 2011 hit $100 million.

But now, after reading an interesting essay from  Pauline Beange, a University of Toronto scholar, I’m ready to re-examine some of my assumptions about the restrictions we have on political financing.  Continue reading Election financing laws: Re-thinking restrictions on third-party spending

From Harper to Redford, the politics of fear works

It matters not if you’re an incumbent of the left, centre, or right. Painting the other guy or gal as scary is how incumbents are holding on to power in Canada.

And it works.

Here’s the argument as it will appear Wednesday in our papers across the country.

[Picture: Taken by me on Sunday in the riding of Calgary-Currie. Premier Alison Redford hugs a supporter during one of 9 campaign events she held Sunday. This one would help spur rookie Christine Cusanelli into the Alberta legislature for the first time.]


Why is Danielle Smith talking about Ron Leech today?

Wildrose candidate Ron Leech said something on live radio last week which Wildrose’s opponent immediately jumped on, accusing him and, by extension, Wildrose, of being racist. Though he immediately apologized, polls after these comments show that Wildrose’s lead in the polls began to shrink. (They still lead by 10 points across the province.) So what do the campaign strategists in Wildrose do heading into the campaign’s final weekend? Should they push harder on their core message? Push harder with their attacks on the Progressive Conservatives? Or they do talk about Ron Leech? Continue reading Why is Danielle Smith talking about Ron Leech today?

Happy anniversary, Thomas Mulcair. Why do you hate our Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

On April 17, 1982, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms became the law of the land. Love it or hate it, it’s a very important document that’s had an important influence on our country’s development.

We are now at the 30th anniversary of the Charter and there are some who say that the current prime minister, Stephen Harper, is not celebrating this anniversary in appropriate style. Well, it’s not really “some” people. It’s really one person, former prime minister Jean Chretien, who, as justice minister in 1982, was one of the signatories of that document. On Wednesday, Chretien and interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae will lead a Liberal celebration of the Charter in Toronto.

Continue reading Happy anniversary, Thomas Mulcair. Why do you hate our Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

Redford sets hectic pace Sunday on Alberta's election trail


[Photo: Alberta Premier Alison Redford and Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk walk back to the campaign bus after making an announcement in Edmonton on Friday April 13, 2012. Alberta premier Alison Redford announced that if they win the provincial election the Progressive Conservatives would ensure that police, firefighters and other first responders get proper treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the government would include PTSD under Workers’ Compensation Board coverage. TOM BRAID/EDMONTON SUN   QMI AGENCY]

We’re one week plus a day until Albertans vote in what could well be one of those elections that that province seems to have every half-century, i.e. a dynasty gets sent to history’s dustbin and a new regime is set in its place. The new regime, if that indeed is what is coming down the pike next week, would be the Wildrose era and its founding leader would be Danielle Smith. Continue reading Redford sets hectic pace Sunday on Alberta's election trail

John Cleese has advice for politicians (and all of us) on thinking creatively

Fascinating lecture on creativity from John Cleese of Monty Python fame…

To be at our most efficient, we need to be able to switch backwards and forward between [open and closed] modes [of thinking]. But — here’s the problem — we too often get stuck in the closed mode. Under the pressures which are all too familiar to us, we tend to maintain tunnel vision at times when we really need to step back and contemplate the wider view.

This is particularly true, for example, of politicians. The main complaint about them from their nonpolitical colleagues is that they’ve become so addicted to the adrenaline that they get from reacting to events on an hour-by-hour basis that they almost completely lose the desire or the ability to ponder problems in the open mode.

via John Cleese on the 5 Factors to Make Your Life More Creative | Brain Pickings.

Baird makes hockey playoff bet with Clinton


In Washington for a meeting of G8 foreign ministers, Canada’s John Baird and American’s Hillary Clinton have made a wager on the first round of the NHL playoffs. Baird, of course, is an Ottawa-area MP and the Ottawa Senators are in the playoffs against the New York Rangers. Clinton, of course, is a former senator from New York. Continue reading Baird makes hockey playoff bet with Clinton