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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘alberta

[LINK] “More bad news for Alberta Tories in latest election poll”

The Edmonton Sun reports on the collapse in Progressive Conservative support in Alberta polls as the province prepares for election. I’m sure I’m not alone in being surprised by the strength of the Wildrose Party, so soon after it had seemingly been gutted by the defection of its leader Danielle Smith.

The Alberta Tories continue to slide, while the NDP surges and the Wildrose maintains the lead, according to the latest election poll released Tuesday morning.

The NDP is dominating Edmonton at 51%, according to the survey, and is in a three-way race in Calgary.

The telephone poll of 3,121 Albertans conducted Monday showed that compared to a week earlier:

•Wildrose is flat with 24% support
•NDP increased to 23% support, up 3%
•The PCs dropped to 18%, down 3%
•Liberal support is down a point, to 8%
•The Alberta Party is up a point to 3%

The survey was conducted by Mainstreet Technologies.

“One thing is becoming clear at this stage of the campaign, the effect of the budget and residual anger to the governing PCs will have a lasting impact on the outcome of this election,” said Mainstreet’s Quito Maggi.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 15, 2015 at 10:33 pm

[CAT] “Chanel Lethbridge hopes to open Edmonton’s first cat cafe”

CBC Edmonton describes the efforts of one Edmonton cat-lover to set up a cat cafe, on the Japanese model. It is worth noting that she is encountering the same issues with regulation and landlords responsible for stalling like efforts in Toronto.

Lethbridge, a first-year business student at NAIT, hopes to open a one-of-a-kind cat cafe that would give pet-less Edmontonians or anyone else who loves cats the chance to cuddle up with a feline friend, and then grab a coffee.

Due to Alberta Health regulations, the cafe will have a glass wall running down its centre; on one side, the cafe. On the other: a lounge full of cats.

“It’s like an extension of your living room,” Lethbridge said of the cat lounge. “There’s comfy furniture in it and friendly cats live there, so you can go and spend time with the cats. And then the other side is a regular cafe.”

That “regular” cafe will serve cat-themed snacks and drinks, along with pet merchandise.

[. . .]

Similar cafes have already been opened in Europe, Japan and Montreal, and plans are in place to open cat cafes in Toronto and Vancouver.

Lethbridge says the cafes are a big draw for people who aren’t able to have a pet of their own — something she has run into herself, as rules at her current apartment building don’t allow her to have a cat.</blockquote

Written by Randy McDonald

April 11, 2015 at 11:42 pm

[LINK] “What is going on in Alberta?”

Mike on Facebook linked to this post at Three Hundred Eight by Éric Grenier looking at next month’s election in Alberta. Out of nowhere, the governing Progressive Conservatives are in third place, behind the gutted Wildrose Party and the New Democratic Party.

The Calgary Herald is doing double duty on Alberta polling these days, coming out with new numbers from ThinkHQ last night (also reported by Metro Calgary and CTV) and then even more new numbers this morning (here reported by the CBC) from Mainstreet Technologies. And the two polls, one conducted online and the other via IVR, showed virtually identical results.

Wildrose scored 31% in both polls, with the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats only a point apart for second place.

ThinkHQ had the NDP with 26% to 25% for the PCs, while Mainstreet had the PCs at 27% and the NDP at 26%.

Both polls also put the Liberals at 12% support.

There is a lot of agreement to go around, but these numbers are unprecedented. In my Alberta polling archive going back to 2008, I have no poll showing the PCs in third place, and only in the darkest moments before Alison Redford resigned have the Tories polled this low before. In none of these polls going back seven years has the NDP even managed 20%, but here they are at 26%. From an electoral perspective, the last time the New Democrats took this much of the vote was in 1989.

This is not to say that the polls are unbelievable. With the Insights West poll from last week, we now have three separate pollsters showing broadly the same thing. Jim Prentice has gambled on an early election, and the first roll of the dice is looking very bad for him.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 9, 2015 at 10:41 pm

[CAT] “After six years apart, Cleo the cat and owner reunited during tearful airport scene”

The Edmonton Journal‘s Alexandra Zabjek reports on the happy reunion of a cat with its owner after six years.

Amanda Graham teared up as the cat she lost almost six years ago nuzzled against her neck at the Edmonton International Airport on Saturday morning.

The Calico cat and its 24-year-old owner were surrounded by well-wishers, news cameras, and an eclectic group of animal lovers who made the reunion possible.

“I think when (cats) get lost, they do try to find their owners … I think that when she saw (Amanda) today, she might have recognized her. She might have been out there looking for her for six years,” said Brenda Potts, a volunteer with the Quinte Lost Cat Network, an animal rescue organization in Ontario.

Potts accompanied Cleo on the flight from Toronto to Edmonton, their travel covered by an Air Miles Donation from an Edmonton resident. Cleo, a three-kilogram Calico that has white, orange and black fur, spent the long trip in a pink animal carrier marked with her name. She seemed to have no hesitation in cuddling with her owner, despite the long absence.

“I didn’t think I’d cry as much as I did,” Graham said a few minutes after the reunion. “It’s incredible, all of these nice people doing this amazing thing for someone they don’t even know.”

More detail about how the reunification took place, including video of the happy scene, at the link.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 4, 2015 at 8:48 pm

Posted in Canada, Popular Culture

Tagged with , , , ,

[LINK] “The last of Danielle Smith”

Colby Cosh of MacLean’s writes about the apparent end of the political career of Alberta’s Danielle Smith, who took the bulk of her Wildrose Party into a previously-unthinkable merger with the governing Progressive Conservatives only to fail to capture her new party’s nomination.

In reporting on Danielle Smith’s defeat in the Highwood Progressive Conservative nomination contest on Saturday, the Edmonton Journal quotes her former Wildrose caucus colleague Pat Stier as saying, “She was the princess of Alberta in terms of politics.” In fact, he has sort of stumbled backward over the problem: She wasn’t a “princess.” Smith does not—speaking here in smug retrospect about something I basically got wrong at the time—really have the folk-hero quality that allows a politician to get away with the sort of thing she tried in dropping the Wildrose leadership and crossing the floor to join Jim Prentice’s PCs.

Smith is attractive and articulate, even intermittently funny. People who are thrilled to see the back of her are being forced to admit that she ran Alberta’s best opposition in generations. And many Albertans seem to have figured, at one time or another, judging by the polls, that she personally would make a quite plausible premier.

It is not as though the disruptive folk-hero type of politician—one in the mould of Churchill, who could be forgiven by the public not only for “ratting” but “re-ratting”—is ever common. But it’s clear that Smith had won the temporary allegiance of the disaffected more than she ever won anybody’s heart. Her background was in school-board politics and media, career interludes that might as well have been designed to inspire dislike and suspicion. She does not have the born politician’s gifts of dominating any room into which she walks, or of making you think you’re the most important person in the world when you’re in conversation with her.

Her style in fending off attacks was detached: She never wanted you to sense that her opposition to the PC government was either personal or intensely passionate. She conducted the job of opposition as a civilized disagreement with a group of people that had lost its ethical and ideological way. She worked for a long time to throw the bums out, but you can’t easily imagine her bringing an audience to its feet by shouting, “Throw the bums out!”

And yet the effect of her presence in Alberta politics was arguably to throw the bums out—to force the governing party to bring in new blood at the top, as it has every so often during its four-decade dominance, and to purge or sideline the leading figures of the Alison Redford regime. Everything suggests she lost her appetite for the work—and she may never have had much appetite for power as such—after that happened. Being a minister in a PC government would have suited her abilities perfectly, and the clock was arguably ticking on her leadership of the Wildrose Party, some of whose movers and shakers never came to terms with her libertarian coup. Her campaign for the Highwood nomination seems to have been a little phoned-in. Jim Prentice started out sending help, in the form of cabinet visitors and paper endorsements, but that effort dwindled, and she couldn’t afford to count on it to save her. Smith seems to have laid pretty low throughout, knowing that any half-respectable opponent would be able to get out a thousand or more revenge-minded supporters.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 31, 2015 at 10:20 pm

[LINK] “Norway’s sovereign wealth holds lessons for Canada”

CBC News’ Susan Ormiston describes how resource-wealthy provinces like Alberta, and perhaps Canada as a whole, should learn from the example of Norwegian prudence.

Norway today sits on top of a $1-trillion Cdn pension fund established in 1990 to invest the returns of oil and gas. The capital has been invested in over 9,000 companies worldwide, including over 200 in Canada. It is now the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world.

By contrast, Alberta’s Heritage Savings Fund, established in 1976 by premier Peter Lougheed, sits at only $17 billion Cdn and has been raided by governments and starved of contributions for years.

“For the last 10 years, when nothing went into the Alberta fund, and we put a lot of money aside, the profit went out of Canada,” says Rolf Wiborg, a petroleum engineer who recently retired from Norway’s public service.

Wiborg, who studied at the University of Alberta and worked for a Norwegian oil company before joining Norway’s Petroleum Directorate, says the key to success has been Norway’s ethos of sharing and a commitment to never waver from that goal.

“We don’t change our policies in Norway, with changes in the oil price – you can’t do that,” he says. “Lougheed’s government in Alberta knew that, they made policies and then they left them behind.”

Oil and gas make up 25 per cent of Norway’s GDP, so the recent plunge in oil prices should have set off alarm bells in Oslo. Thousands of workers have indeed been laid off, but parliament is not painting a dire forecast for 2015.

Much more at the link.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 26, 2015 at 10:31 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Al-Shabaab and the lure of West Edmonton Mall”

Colby Cosh at MacLean’s writes about the lure of the West Edmonton Mall, for everyone.

When I was a young man, there were two things you would expect people to mention when you were travelling abroad and you told people you were from Edmonton: the glorious Stanley Cup-winning Edmonton Oilers and West Edmonton Mall. Nowadays, of course, everything’s totally different. Now when you travel and mention Edmonton, you expect to hear about the comically rancid Edmonton Oilers and West Edmonton Mall.

WEM was named in a video released on Feb. 23 by the struggling Somali terror group al-Shabaab, which has an unstable affiliation with al-Qaeda. The group is best known for masterminding the September 2013 four-man swarm attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Those killers took at least 63 lives, including those of two Canadians. The new video suggests, rather in the manner of mafiosi, that the Westgate attack could be reproduced at Western megamalls like WEM and the Mall of America—both of which are owned by Edmonton’s Ghermezian family, and both of which are in communities that have attracted significant numbers of Somali refugees.

This last part is probably not a coincidence. Big shopping malls and refugees are attracted to a place by some of the same factors. If you have to flee your home and start over in a new language, with your credentials almost irretrievably left behind, you’re looking for a resource-extraction economy that’s slightly inhospitable—a place with structurally tight labour markets that will reward the will to work hard with a high disposable income—i.e., the kind of income people will spend in a nice, cozy, winter-proof megamall.

I have worried a little about the mall—if you’re from Edmonton, that’s all you need to say to specify it—during the period of trendy freelance Muslim terror. Naturally, I wouldn’t let this stop me from visiting the mall with the usual frequency. Which, meaning no disrespect, is darn near never. Like a lot of people from the Edmonton suburbs, I got my fill of it, and then some, in adolescence. But nobody should be afraid to visit: You are surely taking a bigger risk using a stepladder to change a light bulb.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 26, 2015 at 11:23 pm

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