Friday, March 31, 2006 

Is Ralph Klein Finished??

Here is an interesting little snippet concerning Ralph's speech to the Alberta Conservative Provincial Convention tonight. Caucus Whip, Denis Ducharme has sent a letter to every member of the Tory Caucus and instructed them as follows: "I would like to ask, as a demonstration of our support for the Premier, and as a show of party unity, that our entire caucus move up onto the stage to stand briefly with our leader immediately following his speech. A cue from the stage will signal that we should move form our seats and file up via the closest stairs to join the Premier and Mrs. Klein."

Nothing like an orchestrated 'love in' to try and bolster Ralph's flagging fortunes. The tragedy with all of this was covered in an earlier posting here on Buckdog where I tried to remind people that 'good leaders' have loyalty given to them as a gift from their followers. 'Bad leaders' have to badger and bully and orchestrate loyalty from their followers. Alberta Conservatives, gathered in convention this weekend should show Ralph that he is not a 'king'.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 

Harper Tunes Media Out!!

(I can't resist posting a cryptic editorial from todays Regina Leader Post:)

Prime Minister Tunes Media Out
The Leader-Post
Published: Wed., March 29, 2006

Memo to Prime Minister Stephen Harper: don't bother sending us cheesy photos taken by government flacks of your closed-door meetings with visiting world leaders -- we won't use them.

Ditto for government-generated news releases of other events from which reporters are barred. They'll hit the newsdesk garbage quicker than you can say "no comment".

As they move to feed Parliament Hill media "in-house photos" and PR releases -- plus hold cabinet meetings in secret, control which ministers will speak publicly and dictate which reporters get to ask questions -- Harper and his communications team appear to be adopting Soviet-style "information technology".

Under communism, the Moscow government decided what appeared daily in Pravda (Truth) and Izvestia (News). The policy didn't fool many. As Russians joked, the result was "no news in the Truth and no truth in the News."

Harper's no communist, but he appears to believe he can control the flow of news . . . in Canada . . . in the 21st century.

Monday was a classic example of the policy misfiring. As Harper holed up in his office and received daffodils from a group of children with cancer -- normally a dream photo op and human interest story for a politician -- 12 security officers outside his door barred reporters from attending.

The result? TV footage and newspaper stories focusing on the journalists denied access and virtually nothing on Harper's touching meeting.

The parliamentary press gallery has filed a series of complaints with Harper's office about his media policies, but his communications director, Sandra Buckle, dismisses them saying: "I don't think the average Canadian cares as long as they know their government is being well run."

That's the point of the protest. Reporters ask questions on behalf of Canadians and force governments to justify their policies. If access is limited, how will Canadians know if the government is doing its job?

Harper's policy will deliver a couple of guaranteed results. First, the media will assume he has something to hide and will go digging for dirt -- with possibly embarrassing results. Second, the opposition parties can expect a lot more print and air time in Ottawa this spring.

Any comment on that, Mr. Prime Minister?
© The Leader-Post (Regina) 2006

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 

'Good' Leaders Win Loyalty - 'Bad' Ones DEMAND It

To anyone who reads this and has access to Premier Klein, remind him that truly 'good' political leaders WIN and EARN the loyalty of their followers because of inclusion and pragmatic leadership. 'Bad' leaders demand the loyalty of their followers by way of threats, intimidation and punishment if all else fails them. Former Minister Lyle Oberg is a recent case in point!

Ralph Klein has had his way for far too long! I want to remind Albertans that they have the unique opportunity to be rid of him as Premier without changing the government!

Monday, March 27, 2006 

Ralph Klein's Magic Number To Stay On is 70%

Don Martin's article in the March 25th Calgary Herald reports that Ralph Klein will stay on as leader until October 2007 (or perhaps February 2008) 'IF' he can get a 70% approval rating at this weekends Alberta Tory Convention. Now remember that PQ Leader Bernard Landry stepped down when he received only 76% support during a similar leadership review with his party. But this is Ralph Klein we are talking about here. Heck folks - 70% is good enough to hang in there 'till the bitter end, ain't it??

YOU ARE HEARING IT HERE FIRST! Ralph Klein is in MORE trouble with his party than anyone is publically saying. Ralph Klein is going to be hard pressed to get the 70%. If I am wrong, what the heck, I'll buy him a 'victory' beer!

Friday, March 24, 2006 

Ralph Klein Fires Minister !!

Alberta Tory Premier Ralph Klein has fired his transportation Minister Lyle Oberg. Not only was Minister Oberg stripped of his seat at the Cabinet table, he was suspended from the Provincial Conservative Caucus! So what was the great sin that Mr. Oberg committed you ask? Well, Mr. Oberg told his consituency association and executive to 'vote their conscience' during the leadership review at the upcoming Provincial Conservative Party convention at the end of March.

Mr. Oberg is himself a leadership contender. However, expections for all Ministers in Ralph Klein's world is that they will instruct their local party executives to give Ralph Klein a ringing endorsement at the convention.

Once again, Ralph Klein has proven that not all of the dinosaurs in Alberta are in the museum.

Oberg stripped of cabinet post over Klein remarks

Wednesday, March 22, 2006 

Right Wingers HATE Tommy Douglas Movie

I want to tip my hat to the writers, director, actors, producers and technicians who produced the Tommy Douglas movie that was aired on CBC television earlier this week.

In a desperate attempt to discredit the film, certain persons are claiming that former Saskatchewan Premier Jimmy Gardiner was not fairly portrayed. Apparently, Mr. Gardiner was a tea-tottler and there was a scene in the film where he invites the reporters to come to his office and have a drink. This has angered some because they believe Mr. Gardiner was inaccurately portrayed as a drinker of alcoholic spirits. There was a further dramatization concerning the events of the Estevan Coal Miners strike - text was attributed to Mr. Gardiner which historically could not have occurred.

As a result, those who desperately do not want the film used for educational purposes are seething. They do not want any part of the history of Tommy Douglas taught in our schools. While I do have sympathy for the postion of the Gardiner family and other purist history buffs, I do not appreciate the enemies of public health care using this as a reason to distract us from the accomplishments of Tommy Douglas. This would clearly be a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

If you want to kill medicare and reinstate 'for profit / free enterprise' healthcare, then you probably don't want any students learning about the struggle to implement Medicare.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006 

Bush Claims He Didn't Want War in Iraq

The poll results must be getting to George W. Bush. He is quoted today as saying: "I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong... No president wants war."

Mr Bush also stood by Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who has faced much criticism over his handling of the war in Iraq, saying: "I don't believe he should resign. He's done a fine job. Every war plan looks good on paper until you meet the enemy."

Many of us remember the endless speeches concerning 'weapons of mass destruction' prior to the invasion three years ago. Nothing was going to stop Goerge W from having his war. Well, he has his war. But it would seem that plummeting support back home has convinced him to try and find a way to distance himself from it.

Monday, March 20, 2006 

Harper Muzzles Ministers

"The PMO will have final approval for all communications products - even Notes to Editors or Letters to the Editors.’’ (Stephen Harper email to Ministers and Deputies).

With these words, our Prime Minister has effectively muzzled all of his Cabinet Ministers, their Deputy Ministers and Departments. So much for Harper's 'open, honest and accountable government'! That is what we were promised by the Conservatives in the recent federal campaign. So this is either a shameful display of communications 'arrogance' on the part of Mr. Harper OR it is an indication of the lack of faith he has in the political expertise of his cabinet. Whichever of these reasons is the inspiration for his email, he will be hard pressed to explain the disconnect between his campaign promises and reality.

Thursday, March 16, 2006 

Americans and Iranians to 'talk'

The BBC is reporting that for the first time since 1979, official talks will occur between representatives of the USA and Iran! The topic of the talks will be 'Iraq'.

There will be no discussion of Iran's future nuclear power developments. The sole topic will be the current state of affairs in Iraq. It is worth reminding readers that Iran and Iraq fought a very bloody war in the recent past.

I have to admit some excitement at this prospect. Clearly, you can't find two nations who are more divided in terms of ideology and world view. This has to be considered as a good thing for everyone. Discussion is always superior to bullets. As long as they are talking (no matter what the topic) we can sleep that much more securely at night.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006 

A Heartfelt Message To Ralph Klein

Ralph Klein is announcing that he will resign in ..... October, 2007. To this I would just like to say: 'Don't delay what you should do today, please RESIGN!!"

Monday, March 13, 2006 

Harper's Military Move

When President Bush first went into Iraq without U.N. support and without any evidence of weapons of mass destruction, Stephen Harper mused that we should be standing shoulder to shoulder with the U.S.A. Canadians wanted no part of Iraq. As we can see, Iraq is quicksand and Bush is in up to his neck.

So while Stephen Harper wasn't able to get Canada into a fight in Iraq, he seems to have achieved something like that in Afganistan. I find it note worthy that our first aggressive military operation has been code named 'Peacekeeper'. That will make the folks back home feel more comfortable I am sure.

So what is Harper up to with his military strategy? Is it based on Republican ideology? Is it based on his vision of a 'war economy' being good for Canadian business.

Jack Layton has called for a full debate in the House of Commons on the nature of our mission, the timetable, budget implications and human resource commitment. If we are so anxious to bring democratic process to Afganistan, why is Harper so afraid to exercise it at home?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006 

Harper's 'Convenient' Ethics

An "election pledge in the Conservatives' accountability program.

Under the heading "Strengthen the role of the Ethics Commissioner," the document says: "Stephen Harper will . . . prevent the prime minister from overruling the ethics commissioner on whether the prime minister, a minister, or an official is in violation of the conflict of interest code.""

From the Globe and Mail

Stephen Harper is shopping around for a replacement for Ethics Commisioner Shapiro. Shapiro is an officer of Parliament and answers to the House of Commons, not Harper, and Shapiro says he will take his direction only from the House.

It's funny how Stephen Harper and the conservatives have convenient ethics with regard to investigations.

What was good for the Liberals is apparently not good for Conservatives. Harper called for an investigation of the Liberals every single day, and is now apparently trying to avoid an investigation into his inducement for Emerson to cross the floor.

Harper was pretty loud about the "Grewal Affair". Remember Harper bleating about people stepping aside until accusations are investigated?

"While many Conservative lawmakers tried to distance themselves from Grewal, Stephen Harper, the Conservative Party leader, defended him and used the tapes to deliver more attacks against the government. He called on Murphy and Dosanjh to step aside until the accusations that they offered jobs for votes were settled. Other opposition leaders have also called on the two officials to go on leave."

Monday, Jun 20, 2005,Page 7

Harper is not so loud about his own shenanigans.

The Ottawa Citizen said:

"During the investigation, Mr. Harper put off meeting with Mr. Shapiro, who wanted to confirm some details about the Tory leader's tangential involvement in Mr. Grewal's adventure. They couldn't schedule an appointment between last August and November, the commissioner says, though Mr. Shapiro's questions were satisfactorily answered by one of Mr. Harper's close aides.

Mr. Harper should have found time. If he means to clean up government, he'll have to resist all the temptations presented to those in power, including the impulse to skip inconvenient meetings with officers of Parliament. Voters will respect a politician who admits to small failures, provided he commits no big ones. Mr. Harper should have told Mr. Shapiro whatever he knew about Mr. Grewal's activities, even if what he knew wasn't flattering."

"Mr. Harper's task as prime minister will be to stop the routine sleaziness in government at its source. He'll have to hold his MPs, his staff and himself to the very highest standards, and to come clean when they fall short. It won't be easy."

Setting a high ethical bar
The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Friday,
January 27, 2006

Tuesday, March 07, 2006 

Are You Ready For 10 Years in Afganistan??

CanWest news reported today that Foreign Affairs Minister Peter McKay has rejected a debate in the House of Commons concerning our changing role in Afgainistan. When asked what length of time our commitment might be, McKay said, "As for the length of time that we will be there, that is an open question". McKay was further quoted as saying,"we are going to rely heavily on the information we receive from (Chief of Defense Staff) General Hillier and others who are overseeing this mission." The article goes on to say, 'Hillier, as well as other Canadian and NATO generals have said the West needs to be prepared for a decade long commitment to rebuild Afganistan'.

Are we being told that the length of the mission is up to the Generals? Are we being told that we are going to be there for 10 years?

If an issue EVER needed a full debate in the House of Commons, this is it!

Sunday, March 05, 2006 

Did We Not Learn Anything From the Vietnam Experience?

What was the Key military lesson that was learned during the Vietnam War? The lesson was simple; when you deploy conventional military ground forces against a civilian insurgent or guerrilla force, it is hard to determine who the actual enemy is. During the '60's and '70's , the US military threw everything they had at the Viet Cong and still lost the war. The smiling citizens who walked amongst the troops during the day were often the same guerrilla fighters who shot and bombed US troops after the sun went down.

Flash forward to today, 2006. Iraq & Afghanistan. Was nothing learned from the disaster of Vietnam? Exactly who in the Canadian Armed Forces High Command believes that we are going to be effective in curtailing insurgent activities when we aren't even sure who it is that is planting roadside explosives or running at us with axes?

As we begin to slip deeper and deeper into the quicksand that is Afghanistan, I fear that we have learned nothing from the lessons of the past. While every Canadian supports and worries about our individual soldiers, who is it at the Department of National Defense who thinks that what we are doing is going to be effective?

Insanity is often described as repeating the same mistake over and over, expecting a different result.

Friday, March 03, 2006 

Ethics Commissioner to Investigate Haper (already?)

Bernard Shapiro, the federal Ethics Commissioner has launched an investigation into the role that Prime Minister Stephen Harper played in enticing former Liberal MP David Emerson to cross over to the Conservatives. The Commissioner will determine what transpired to cause the switch.
Read More

Thursday, March 02, 2006 

To Ralph Klein - "That's Called Assault!!!!" - RESIGN

If you take out your magnifying glass, you may find a story that the standard press and media is somewhat playing down today. Yesterday, during Question Period in the Alberta Legislature, Tory Premier Ralph Klein had a temper tantrum. A Liberal MLA had handed a booklet on health care to a young female 17 year old Page. She took it across the floor and handed to the Premier. He threw it back at her and it struck her!

Now remember, this is the same Premier Ralph Klein who had his driver take him to a homeless shelter one night a few years ago. An obviously intoxicated Premier Klein berated the homeless for being poor! He reportedly took some money out of his wallet and began to throw money at them. Many of us are well aware the right wingers generally blame the poor for their poverty but this was unforgivable. The day after the money throwing incident,. thru the trickery of communications professionals, Klein admited to a drinking problem and apologized to all concerned. Poor Ralph - many felt sorry for him.

However, I believe the sentiment should more accurately be, 'Shame on Ralph'.

So now we have another episode - and in this case it is an older man using violence on a very young woman. It is time for Ralph Klein to go.

I tip my hat to Alberta MLA Brian Mason who said after yesterdays incident, "If one thing exemplifies the degree to which he has become out of control - indeed, almost unstable, it was that performance today" (Quote is from the Edmonton Journal, March 2, 2006).

Mr. Premier. RESIGN!!!! If you want to tell Ralph yourself, email him at :

The Edmonton Jounal Story

Wednesday, March 01, 2006 

Slightly Used Bedpans For Sale, Cheap - Ask for Ralph

"On November 10th, 2004, Premier Klein told a Red Deer audience that, 'private health care operators can save money by using second hand equipment.'" (Alberta NDP)

This would seem to be the other part of Ralph Klein's vision for health care. Cut rate equipment, cut rate supplies - remember they do stuff like this in the U.S. Then remember why their malpractice insurance costs so much. Then remember that the unnecessary billing bureaucracy in the U.S. and their massive profit extraction causes U.S. health care to cost about 15% of GDP compared to about 10% in Canada (Christian Science Monitor - Dec 2003), and 45 million Americans have no health insurance and many more have limited coverage - estimated at around 60 million underinsured (multiple sources).

"One of the main culprits pushing up the cost of care in the United States is the expense of administering a plethora of complicated health plans. It has been estimated that any large health insurer in a midsize U.S. state spends more on administration than is spent on health administration in all Canada." (San Fransisco Chronicle - Oct 14, 2004)

The same San Fransisco Chronicle Chronicle article says "Dr. Catherine Kurosu is a gynecologist at two San Diego hospitals. A Canadian, she said the biggest differences between the two systems are that poorer Americans won't seek medical care until their problems have become serious. In addition, she said, American insurers often play games to avoid paying bills."

"When it comes to billing, the Canadian system is a simple matter of sending an invoice to the Ministry of Health, which pays on a fee-for-service basis, she explained. In the United States, there are so many insurance companies, each with its own rules covering not only the patient but also the doctor -- as Kurosu learned when she had to wait months for an insurance company to approve her.

U.S. health insurers 'nickel and dime' doctors by always sending bills back and questioning everything, she said. 'It's like a game to see how long they can forestall payment.'"

Is this the vision we as Canadians have for health care?

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