Friday, February 19, 2010



. . .FOR THIS!

You will recall that on January 18, 2010 I raved about Special Ed's deft decision to appoint California-born and bred Ted Morton as Alberta Minister of Finance and Enterprise and thereby set him up as Ed's logical successor. See: REPORT FROM ALBERTA: TORIES AND WILD ROSE ALLIANCE SET FOR THE MOTHER OF ALL TORY CIVIL WARS

I predicted that Morton's pure right-wing pedigree along with his reputed oratorical skills could very well stop the hemorrhaging of Progressive Conservative support over to the upstart Wildrose Alliance party now headed by that enticing political goddess, Danielle Smith.

Much to my surprise I have discovered that my rosy view of Morton's potential is not shared by a great many Tories, whether they still hold their party memberships or whether they trashed them already to join the party of the alluring Ms. Smith.

This afternoon I happened to share a glass of wine with two men who can only be described as establishment Alberta Tories. They were in the innermost sanctum of the Ralph Klein organization throughout his whole sorry tenure during Alberta's dark ages between 1992 to 2006. Over those dreary and unimaginative years whenever anything of consequence was going on these affable and erudite gentlemen (remember, they bought me the glass of wine) were at the very apex of power. They kept both the keys to, and the secrets of, the kingdom. They were among the strongest voices in the Premier's cheering section, and advanced and strategized many of the thin gruel of ideas that found their way into the half-baked policies of his misguided regime. In other words, they were Tories of influence.

Alas, these former movers and shakers have concluded at the same time as countless other Albertans, that the Morton appointment is simply too little too late to save the Tories. They are underwhelmed and unimpressed with Morton. They say his oratorical skills are overblown and his leadership skills wholly absent during his whole three-year tenure as a Stelmach minister.

Most surprising of all, they are convinced that Stelmach has no intention of setting Morton nor anybody else up as his successor and still harbours the delusion that he will survive and lead the Tories to victory in the next provincial election! As to anybody else in the wings who can save the PCs from oblivion, forget it, they say. It ain't gonna happen. With Jim Dinning happily ensconced in the cozy comfort of oak-paneled walls and expensive scotch in the private sector, the cupboard is bare for leadership candidates. Empty. Kaput. Finito. One of my hosts (remember, they bought the wine) has even bought his Wildrose Alliance membership.

If these men are right - and their survival instincts have served them well after more than a generation in PC politics - this is bad news for the Tories. The party will have to fight tooth and nail to remain in contention, and with Stelmach at the helm and in la-la land about his own abilities and future, that will be like fighting with one hand tied behind one's back.

These are dark days indeed for the once proud party of Peter Lougheed.

Monday, February 15, 2010


With Hannaford Gone. . .

Can Corbella be far behind ?

As the CanWest Global empire sinks into its well-earned sunset many of its employees –including writers and editors - must be scrambling for new jobs. Living on the edge of being out on the street isn’t fun and it’s much worse when you are actually out on the street.

Nigel Hannaford, a pedantic, boring, extreme right wing, politically conservative former editorial writer and columnist who began imparting his antiquated views on Calgary Herald readers in 1999 seemed to be ahead of the pack in testing the waters for more secure employment. Beginning in 2004 when the Harper government took office Hannaford consistently fawned over it, doted on it, and caressed it, while shouting loud huzzahs of approval at each and every of its pronouncements and actions – despite its screw-ups, meanness, lies, and deceits. Anybody reading his tiresome columns could be forgiven if they had concluded that Hannaford was looking to Harper for new and more secure work.

Indeed in October 2009, the zealous opponent of gay-rights and multiculturalism, climate change denier, and ardent Afghanistan war hawk, was hired as a Harper speech writer. One wonders whether or not an even more secure post in the public service awaits him before his pal is finally thrown out of Sussex Drive. For more of Hannaford’s off the charts views see:

Another who many have long suspected as being on the same career path as Hannaford is the Herald’s editorial page editor Licia Corbella. The most recent manifestation of what may be her career aspirations appeared yesterday on the Herald's editorial page – appropriately on Valentine’s Day - with her passionate defence of Harper’s decision to prorogue parliament. See:

In it Corbella whines that no one seems to be outraged with Dalton McGuinty in the wake of announcing his intention to prorogue the Ontario legislature. She rages that “those of us who live in the real world know the answer. Proroguing is only something those professors and protesters care about if it’s someone like Harper who does it.”

Well, I doubt that being in the real world is hanging out – as Corbella does - with the Greed is Good crowd at the Fraser Institute and the co-sponsors of the forthcoming Sarah Palin love-fest like Craig Chandler and the Progressive Group for Independent Business. But she is probably right thinking that it is Harper’s type that gets under people’s skin when he seeks prorogation. I’m speaking of the petty, mean-spirited type that indulges in the politics of personal destruction, assassinates the characters of people who get in their way, and who asks for prorogation twice in one year to keep the Canadian people in the dark and to save their own political skin. I mean, people like that have their detractors, non?

In her defence of Harper Corbella then opts for one of her well-worn diversionary tactics. She brings up the red (no pun intended) herring of Bob Rae as Premier of Ontario. This is a device she has used many times before. Bob, she says, prorogued the Ontario legislature three times in five years, and then goes on to castigate his administration for its various misdeeds. Poor Bob. Corbella seems to be fixated on him, even though it is almost a generation since he was in power. The government of Premier Bob Rae is old news and few people save for the Harper fawners and apologists even talk about it these days.

Corbella then reminds us that it was only in December of 2008 when the Liberals, NDP and the Bloc threatened forming a coalition that most Canadians first heard of prorogation. She calls Harper’s actions in seeking prorogation at that time as “righteous” in the circumstances because the forming of the coalition sought to “usurp democracy.” First of all, it is trite to say that forming a coalition in democratic, responsible government parliaments is entirely within the traditions of democracy. At times coalition governments have been essential to Canada’s survival and development. For anybody who is interested in the subject I invite them to read: Furthermore she forgets that the coalition was a response to an assault on democracy by Harper himself. The coalition threat was an attempt to spurn Harper’s intention to cut off public funding of federal opposition parties. It was the opposition's response to Harper’s attempted ‘putsch.’ For a definition of this descriptive term made famous by an event involving, appropriately enough, Adolf Hitler, read:

There may be quibblers as to my definition of ‘putsch’ in that some will say Harper did not attempt to overthrow a government. I say that if you choke off funding for opposition parties you are trying to overthrow government as Canadians have always known it.

Corbella does have a moment – as even the most partisan of people like her do from time to time – of honest reflection. She calls Harper’s announcement of prorogation on December 30 “a huge miscalculation,” “bordering on disgraceful,” and refers to “Harper’s Machiavellian machinations.” Alas like Dr. Strangelove, after a moment of lucidity she quickly slips back into her normal uber partisan Conservative mode – saying that Harper should come clean with all of the info on the Afghan detainee issue “and let the Liberals come to the defence of Taliban murderers who were having ‘troubles sleeping because of stress’ while in prison.” Sound familiar? It could have been written by Harper himself.

Her column then deteriorates into pure babble with a ridiculous feeble defence of Harper’s action arguing that prorogation saved taxpayers’ money because MPs did not have to fly back to Ottawa from their ridings and would not receive extra pay because the committees of which they were members were not sitting.

Her closing thoughts reflect the rah-rah highly partisan Harperite that she is as she advances the proposition that prorogation is not such a bad thing because question period is vulgar, and that the bitching about prorogation is because Liberals feel entitled to govern.

So what are we to make of all of that?

Surely, the cowtown has produced no greater Harper cheerleader than Corbella, unless it is Nigel Hannaford. From day one she and Hannaford have been devoted to the Harper cause. They have been loyal and faithful through thick and thin whether their hero was mean, petty, deceitful, incompetent or all of the foregoing at once. If there is a place for Hannaford amongst the flim-flam artistes who write prime ministerial bafflegab for the masses, surely there must be a place for Corbella. By God, she’s earned it!

Monday, February 08, 2010


In case you are wondering just who are the sponsors of the forthcoming Palin-Wallin Calgary conservative gabfest, they are listed on a series of half page ads in the hapless Calgary Herald.

At the top of the list is Walton. Walton is a private Calgary-based land investment company estimated to be worth gazillions and with holdings in many corners of the world. The company has been a soft landing for several right-wing retired politicos who have joined its advisory board after the sun had set on their careers. Among the lucky ones who have landed this sought-after lucrative sinecure are Ernest Manning’s son Preston, conservative gadfly and political groupie Thompson MacDonald, and most recently, ex-Premier Ralph Klein.

The right-wing think tank, The Fraser Institute (surprise, surprise), is also on the list. Among its former directors are those great Canadian role models Conrad Black, David Radler, and Peter Pocklington. Oh yes, the Fraser Institute has also had among its ranks a noted plagiarist by the name of Dr. Owen Lippert. Dr. Lippert who served the institute as a senior fellow and policy analyst, you will recall, took the rap for Stephen Harper when it was disclosed that Harper had given a plagiarized speech in the House of Commons in defence of Canada entering the war in Iraq.

Enmax Corporation is also a sponsor. Enmax is a 2 billion dollar energy distribution company wholly owned by the City of Calgary. Among its directors are Cliff Fryers, a former pooh-bah of the Reform and Alliance parties and loyal and faithful man-servant to Preston Manning, ex-Ontario premier Mike ‘Duffer’ Harris famous for his ‘Common Sense’ nonsense revolution of years gone by, former Klein-era Tory cabinet minister Greg Melchin, and the ubiquitous Thompson MacDonald.

The Rogers Group is also on the list. Apart from the usual assortment of conservative Bay Street captains of industry and members of the Rogers family that grace its board, surprisingly there appears to be a token Liberal – none other than David Peterson, former Ontario Premier who was confined to the dust heap of history by Bob Rae when he led the Ontario NDP to power almost twenty years ago.

The Progressive Group for Independent Business is a sponsor. It’s advisory council is a Who’s Who of Calgary’s lunatic far right including failed Wild Rose Alliance leadership candidate Mark Dyrholm, and uber rabid anti-gay rights conservative motor mouth Craig Chandler. Chandler has had mostly controversial associations with the Social Credit, federal and provincial Progressive Conservative, and Canadian Alliance parties. He has openly apologized to the citizens of the United States for Canada’s unwillingness to invade Iraq, was rejected by Premier Stelmach as a Progressive Conservative candidate to contest a provincial election, and has had run ins with the Alberta Human Rights Commission and the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council. Among his more noteworthy public statements in 2007 the Ontario-born Chandler informed others who came to reside in Alberta:

"You came to here to enjoy our economy, our natural beauty and more. This is our home and if you wish to live here, you must adapt to our rules and our voting patterns or leave. Conservatism is our culture. Do not destroy what we have created."

For more on the distinguished career of the tolerant Mr. Chandler see:

And of course – you guessed it – the Calgary Herald is also a sponsor of this ‘Make Ditzy Sarah Rich’ event. The Herald’s participation was no doubt driven by its tiresome, ideological editors and scribes who have turned that once venerable publication into a second rate right wing pamphlet.

Bedford Biofuels, Oilsands Quest Inc. (which has Sarah’s stage prop Ms. Wallin on its board), the Jaymor Group, Land Rover Calgary, Business in Calgary, and It's Me, round out the list of advertised patrons.

All of this info is provided to you in case you are wondering what makes much of the cowtown tick. Dysfunctional? You think?


Thursday, February 04, 2010


PALIN (holding dead fish) Coming to Cowtown

WALLIN: Broadcasting Diva and political operator will moderate discussion

Once again trying to prove Phineas T. Barnum’s* truism that that there’s a sucker born every minute, a pair of Calgary promoters are bringing in Sarah Palin to impart her wit and wisdom to the residents of cowtown on March 6. See:

In case you missed it, Calgary was the first Canadian city that hosted Karl Rove and George W. Bush in their Canadian pickpocket debuts after they had left office. See: and

I say ‘pickpocket’ because just as gullible Calgarians shelled out hundreds each to hear Bush and his henchman say nothing of consequence, 1000 of them are expected to pay 150 to 200 dollars for a ticket to receive the same from Palin - unless one considers seeing in the flesh a true celebrity from the dumb and dumber era of infotainment as something of value.

Ah, but I’m being churlish.

The star-studded event will be held at the Palomino Room at Stampede Park - yes, home of the Calgary Stampede and a favorite gathering place for the cowtown’s knuckle-dragging hard right. I say ‘star-studded’ because the event will include a question and answer session moderated by Senator Pamela Wallin, formerly a famous talking head on Canadian television news networks and now a formidable political operator in her own right.

Apart from her career in the media Wallin has displayed an amazing talent for getting governments of Canada of any political stripe to advance her career and resume. First of all the Chretien Liberals gave her the cushy appointment of Canada’s Consul General in the Big Apple where for a number of years she entertained the rich and powerful on behalf of Canada at her swanky Park Avenue digs. When she was done with that the Harper Conservatives put her on the laughable Manley panel to figure out what to do in Afghanistan. After having done such a bang-up job on that assignment – remember the panel said that 1000 extra troops and a little more equipment could do the job in Kandahar - the Harperites then appointed her to the Senate. Not bad for a kid from Wadena, Saskatchewan who once was a member of the far left Waffle group faction of the NDP: See:;

Just like Bush and Rove, Palin’s Calgary gig will be her Canadian speaking debut. Christian Darbyshire, one of the promoters of the boondoggle believes that Calgary is an ideal spot for Palin’s one and a half hour drivel because Calgary, like Alaska, is into oil and gas. He said, “She’s got some interesting insights and I think people in Calgary will be very interested in hearing what she has to say.” Probably so, given the thousands around town who share her red neck culture and believe that Barack Obama is about to initiate death panels for granny.

Darbyshire’s partner in the project Andy McCreath showed that he too knew his oats saying that the Palin-Calgary match-up was ideal because, “Calgary is a Republican town,” and that “There’s lots of Americans living in Calgary.” Dead on once again. Since the discovery of the Leduc elephant oil field way back in 1947 Calgary has been hands down the most American and Republican – some would say Texas Republican - of Canadian cities.

Indeed the boys do know their stuff when it comes to marketing big names in these parts. Among the has-beens with checkered pasts they have brought to town and whose pockets they have lined with cash from a gullible public are Tony Blair, Alan Greenspan, Rudy Giuliani, and Colin Powell. Although none of those today would likely win a popularity contest, they have also organized gabfests for the likes of Bill Clinton and Lance Armstrong.

No doubt the former governor and vice presidential candidate, Fox News political analyst, author, and university drop-out will toss enough red meat at what will be her largely hard right audience so that at the end of the day they will give her a rousing standing ovation. After which, of course, she’ll chortle all the way back to her bank in Wasila, Alaska to make the hundred thou or so deposit. A sucker born every minute? You betcha. There will be a thousand of them out at Stampede Park to hear the ditz.
* See: