Conservatives Win Friends and Improve Policy…

…Or that might be what the usually compliant and forgiving media would say if they hadn’t been pissed off about being locked out of policy meetings at the Conservative Convention last weekend in Calgary.

the weird, unsettling vibe that hung over the whole event. (We’ve grown used to seeing prime ministers sealed inside an impenetrable bubble, but a whole party?) That reporters were constrained from doing their jobs is perhaps a side issue. But that a democratic political party, at its national convention, would go to such lengths to hide from public view is just a bit creepy.

Election Stockholm Syndrome is alive and well in Canada, especially in Toronto.

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Spending a Billion #cdnpoli

Many homes and lives were recently destroyed in Alberta last week. Warnings about where, and how to build homes were not heeded.

A former Alberta MLA who headed up a flood mitigation task force after the 2005 floods says new development should not have been allowed to spring up in the flood zones.

“The one thing they could have done … they should have stopped building some housing and buildings on the flood plains. And that was a strong part of that report,” George Groeneveld, who chaired the flood mitigation committee and report, told CBC News.

“If you’re going to build in those areas, you take on the responsibility yourself. That to me was the strength of the report, stop building where we shouldn’t be building.”

Hmm, adaptation doesn’t work, if no one heeds reports, or pays for infrastructure that works in the long term.

Canadian insurance companies are facing unprecedented growth in claims and payouts for water-related home damage, and industry experts lay the blame squarely on climate change.

In 2009, insurance payouts nationwide totalled $5.3-billion, with more than half of claims being paid for extreme weather events.

Yet Calgary and elsewhere built where it was not reasonable to do so.

Sale of flood-prone Crown lands creates the potential “for increased financial liability for the province in terms of Disaster Recovery Program funding that must outweigh the short-tem financial benefits of the sale,” the report stated.

The Premier has announced a billion dollars in emergency aid. How long until the next emergency?

CALGARY — Alberta has approved $1 billion as part of the first phase of emergency recovery and reconstruction for flood-ravaged communities.
Premier Alison Redford said the province has vowed to provide for more than 100,000 displaced southern Albertans.
“Today we’re taking action,” she said Monday.
To help the people who are still displaced and can’t go home, the province will provide pre-loaded debit cards that will help with their immediate housing needs and day-to-day purchases.
Those who qualify will receive $1,250 per adult and $500 per child.
The funding has been allocated from Alberta’s Contingency Fund.

UofR

Can’t help it if no one is listening to the experts.

Alberta’s flood emergency will soon pass; the global state of emergency won’t. Climate change is the emergency we’ll be dealing with for the rest of our lives. We must all quickly wake up to the dangers of warmer planet.

Committing Sociology or Climatology

The Prime Minister infamously implored people to not “commit sociology” when Chechen-American thugs blew people up in Boston. The PM’s point was that he didn’t want people analysing the root causes of terrorism, out of supposed respect for the distant victims. With another deadly tragedy underway in Alberta, there are a chorus of complaints from people both local and quite distant from the disaster, asking people to not talk about why Calgary was subjected to a massively uncommon flood.

A really tiresome meme amongst climate change deniers is where they insist that someone can’t seriously understand climate science and be concerned about it, if they participate in using modern technology (that happens to be harmful when mass produced and mass-used).

Is it hypocritical? Possibly. Is it understandable, and necessary in order for environmentalists to spread their ideas on a level playing field to Deniers who use cars and the Internet and get on TV? It’s essential.

The Canadian political movement that made climate change denial a centrepiece of their economic ideology, was born out of Alberta. You’ll have to forgive some Canadians who conflate all prairie dwellers with climate change denying rednecks who all work for oil companies, vote Conservative, and don’t give a damn about the consequences. Westerners tend to make similarly unflattering assumptions about people from southern Ontario all voting for crack head Mayors, and that’s not fair either.

There’s also a host of extremely sensitive people on Twitter right now insisting that talking about climate change in the context of the disaster in Alberta, is tantamount to “victim blaming”. What utter nonsense that is. Not all Calgarians are innocent victims. All deserve emergency support, of course, no matter their political views, obviously. People living thousands of kilometers from a tragedy should not be told they cannot talk about the root causes destroying cities by natural disasters.

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By-election Monday; Plan to Fix Democracy

Well, the polls are closed in Victoria, Calgary, and Durham, ON so it’s time for some results. Since the voters of Durham were foolish enough to stick with Oda after her first waves of scandal until she burned out from too much $16 orange juice, they obviously stuck with the party of election fraud, and voted another Conservative drone into Harper’s harem. In Calgary, things were much more interesting, as the Liberals and Greens both have returns thus far as well over 30% and 24% respectively. The Greens last time got 10%, so this may signal that Chris Turner is awesome, or that Calgary isn’t as the Conservative ‘majority’ suggests it is.

What the results in Calgary also show is that the Liberals, Greens, and NDP are going to have to co-operate before the next general election in order to game the system as the Conservatives have. Why pretend the old traditions matter, when doing so ensures national defeat and disgrace? As Brandon explains, it’s not like Canada is a functioning democracy right now anyway. It can be again, with the right people in power, willing to fix our democratic institutions upon election.

RoboCon, The Robocalls scandal in Canada, March 2012

Before you get indignant and say, “We can’t ‘game the system,” I have to remind you that Harper did with election fraud, statistically demonstrated, with audio recordings and reporting in the media of the resulting crimes. By comparison, co-operating to decide using votes which candidates party leaders will authorize to run in specific ridings, is not a crime. We actually expect our politicians to work together to make our country better, except now they have to do it outside of the House, and where the personal stakes are higher. Are they up to the task?
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#YYCCentre By-election Pie Debate

The latest candidate debate in Calgary Centre riding had a twist, it was also a meat-pie contest. The winning pie, provided by the NDP candidate, was bison-tourtiere. The silliness didn’t stop there though, not when there’s a Sun TV, Wild Rose Party hack running as the pieholder for the Conservative Party. Joan Crockatt avoided many of the other debates, and it’s clear why when you hear her attempt to answer questions that take her off her PMO script.

First she suggested that MPs aren’t much good if they aren’t part of the governing party.

When the candidates were asked how they perceived Canada’s declining reputation, Joan’s answer wasn’t inspiring. When questioned, she didn’t know who had awarded the PM the title she cited, since the organization is so credible and prestigious. An audience member shouted out to “Google it!”, and she obliged.

Meanwhile the Green candidate, Chris Turner offered impressive answers, and responded to the world reputation question by remarking how he’d been thanked overseas once for being Canadian and part of the country responsible for rescuing American diplomats in Iran. He was very touched by that thanks offered to our country, via him. Now he says our international reputation has taken a hit because we’re not part of the world’s conversation on climate change, don’t take it seriously, and don’t put real resources into addressing the problem like other countries want to.

Turner is my obvious favourite, although I could see any of the four that were on stage as representing their parties as I’d expect, in Ottawa if elected. The sad thing is, that’s not saying something positive about Joan, and nothing special about Harvey or the NDP candidate either.

P.S. I’d like to know where the other candidates were, and if they were not invited, that stinks. If they’ve backed off to avoid splitting the vote for progressives, I could sympathize with their thoughts. I think Turner has a real chance this time if Liberal support swings around partially, and if the Greens have reached enough disengaged voters and re-energized them. GOTV on election day will be extremely important, where the by-election turnout is bound to be low. I also bit my tongue earlier when I saw a SK NDPer tweet they’re going to Calgary to help… but not with the GPC or LPC campaigns that appear to be well out in front in the ABC vote race.

CBC Porn? #CBCporn

Sun News has a reputation for not being very accurate, in an attempt to excite their right wing base. They also employ professional liars. One story told by SUN involves CBC broadcasting porn, which isn’t what they do, obviously. This exaggeration was repeated by a CPC candidate in #YYCcentre on Saturday night, and prompted her mockery on Twitter, nation wide. It remains a Top Trend on Twitter, hours later as I write this.
(www.torontosun.com/2012/02/01/is-the-cbc-paying-for-porn) No, they are not. Anyone taking Sun News at face value deserves the figurative egg that ends up on their face.

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Mosaic 2012 #WHYQR

I had an excellent evening out in Regina with my wife, family, and friends. I met some Ward 1 residents too along the way, including Joe and his wife. Joe’s writing a book about Regina, and it may be available by the end of this year. He also had very interesting comments about municipal politics here, including an idea (not acted on 30 years ago) to do away with the Ward numbers, and focus on geographical names with more meaning instead. Hillsdale, Douglas Park, and Whitmore Park would have meaning to more local people than “Ward 1″. I would have talked longer, but had other pavilions to get to, and the six year old we were babysitting didn’t want to wait to see more. I just realized, looking at Joe’s business card, that I saw his car on the way into the Irish pavilion, because I noticed the Rider plate with his name and mistakenly thought it was a phonetic attempt to match a radio station name.

At the Greek pavilion I also got to talk with education-Tweeter-extraordinaire Alec, who may be pitching an idea I gave him, on the radio next week.
Mosaic

So far I’ve been to Hellenic (Greece), Kyiv (Ukraine; try the borscht), Irish, Scottish, Korean (lit my mouth on fire with some kim-chi), Philippines, and Hungary. I’d like to catch them all, but won’t have time, so the short list for Saturday is Chile, Caribbean, Francophone, and First Nations. Hopefully I squeak in a few more than that.

I heard that people were evacuated from the German Club around 9:30pm due to some electrical problem that was soon resolved. The party ended up in the street, and in the tent instead.

At Hungary, I got to talk with Ralph Goodale a little bit as crowd control kicked in to hold up the line we were waiting in. He congratulated me on entering municipal politics, and gave me some pointers. Which reminds me, Joe spoke highly of Mayor Nenshi’s social media campaign, and recommended I follow it. I explained that as a blogger, I have years of “dirt” people can readily dig up and take out of context, at the push of a button, so not all of Nenshi’s methods of message control are open to me. Although, he’s certainly a legend in municipal politics and social media circles. I sure hope I have a shred of his social-savvy.

That Annoying Twitter Access

I’ve seldom seen a journalist whine so much about politicians who are too accessible to the public. Look no further, you can find them in the Calgary Herald. Mayor Nenshi has even replied to a tweet from me, and I don’t even live in Calgary, so obviously he must be wasting time. Right, right? Ugh.

Heralds were originally messengers of kings. Now that kings can tweet directly/instantly to their followers, there is less of a role (or a different one) for Calgary Heralds to play.

ABMarkTaylor Mark Taylor
So @nenshi goes around media to reach taxpayers & media loses its narrative. Yep, they aren’t happy about it either.

Klassen, instead of explaining her new role as BS filter and tweet analyzer, takes it upon herself to chide people for participating directly in democracy in any way above voting every 3 years. The BS filter turned into the BS distributor, instead. This only further buries the obsolete Herald as they bemoan the glory days when they could control what the public heard kings say.

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Using Twitter today, I also had a direct democracy disagreement with a Sask Party supporter who does not understand how Occupy Wall Street is a pro-democracy movement, how it relates to the Arab Spring, or what the point of it even is. Despite denying knowing what the movement is for, he’s certain it’s not pro-democracy. Then he says that because the protesters don’t face a grave threat to their life, they are not standing up to tyranny.

Blaise Boehmer

@saskboy well, in Egypt they are protesting the very real threat of tyranny. OWS: not sure what they’re about.

Oh really? Even if you ignore the US Davis pepper spraying of peacefully sitting protesters, or the G20 sitting protesters who were rushed by violent police in Toronto, while the protesters sang O Canada, can you really say they don’t put a lot on the line by participating in political protests when many of their neighbours are wilfully blind to the reasons for democratic protest?

Do we honour veterans less for serving their country if they never saw combat? It’s not the violence we are supposed to admire, it’s their resolve to deliver a better, fairer, freer world to people they don’t even know. You can’t say OWS isn’t in the same cateogry, especially while you deny that you know what category OWS falls under.

Civics, Humour, Space, and Water

I’m going to assume that Calgary’s Civic Camp is a success, because they have an awesome mayor who nobody expected to win.

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Things could be worse. These disasters will make you smile.

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http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/videos/dawn/20110915/vesta20110915-640.swf

Embedded video from
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology

Vesta is a minor planet in our solar system, and you can look at it as no humans have seen before this year.

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Several presentations at the UofR make a point of offering their guest speakers tap water. The Design Regina forum last night had bottles of Coke brand water under each guest’s chair.