Thursday, August 30, 2007

Wildrose Party Executive loses three

While reviewing the Wildrose Party website for some sign as to where they are at with their registration petition, I couldn't help but notice that Gordon Stamp, Don Weisbeck, and Don Gebauer are no longer listed as being on the Executive. According to a Wildrose Party media release dated June 26, 2007, the roster of the original Executive Committee read as follows:

  • Rob James, president (Calgary)
  • Link Byfield, executive director (Morinville)
  • Sharon Maclise, vice-president membership (Edmonton)
  • Gordon Lang, vice-president fundraising (Calgary)
  • Gordon Stamp, vice-president policy (Edmonton)
  • Don Weisback [sic], vice-president communications (Brooks)
  • Eleanor Maroes, treasurer (Edmonton)
  • Marilyn Burns, secretary (Edmonton)
Southern Directors:
  • Don Gebauer (Calgary)
  • John Hilton-O'Brien (Calgary)
  • Rosemary Craig (Calgary)
Northern Directors:
  • Faye Engler (St. Albert)
  • Phil Gamache (Edmonton)
  • Daniel Johnson (Edmonton)
The present Executive can be found here.

I can find no explanation on the website as to why over 20% of the executive is gone in such a short time frame, and why no replacements have been named.

The current list:

  • Rob James, president (Calgary)
  • Link Byfield, executive director (Morinville)
  • Sharon Maclise, vice-president membership (Edmonton)
  • Gordon Lang, vice-president fundraising (Calgary)
  • Gordon Stamp, vice-president policy (Edmonton)
  • Don Weisback [sic], vice-president communications (Brooks)
  • Eleanor Maroes, treasurer (Edmonton)
  • Marilyn Burns, secretary (Edmonton)
Southern Directors:
  • Don Gebauer (Calgary)
  • John Hilton-O'Brien (Calgary)
  • Rosemary Craig (Calgary)
Northern Directors:
  • Faye Engler (St. Albert)
  • Phil Gamache (Edmonton)
  • Daniel Johnson (Edmonton)

Update 08/30/2007: It appears that the Wildrosers have moved the listing of their shrinking Executive to a secure part of the website where it is not viewable by the public:

Wildrose Party Executive

You can see how it looked earlier this morning at the following places:

Update 09/01/2007: Apparently you can still view the executive list if you are not referred to the Wildrose Party site from this blog. I guess they set up a referral block (or an IP block), just for me.

This of course proves that the Wildrosers are reading this site. Cool.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wildrose Party stuck in a rut?

I notice that the Alberta Spectator has a post up entitled Wildrose Party moving ahead. In his post, Werner Patels reproduces a rather desperate sounding email from the Wildrose Party:

Albertans are in a remarkable political mood

An astonishing poll this week from Cameron Strategy in Calgary shows that undecided voters are now the largest group in Alberta (37%).

The Stelmach Conservatives have dropped to 32%. That's down from 54% in January. Liberals, NDP, Greens and Alliance are all stalled. Highest place are the Liberals, unchanged at 16%. The Alberta Alliance remains at 5%, down from 9% in 2004 election.

This poll does not bode well for anyone -- except the Wildrose Party.

An "undecided" response above 20% is considered high -- politically, it means things might change. Thirty-seven percent is virtually unheard of. It means there's a huge political vacuum which no existing party has been able to fill.

"Now is the time," says Wildrose president Rob James of Calgary. "Now is the time for our members to spread the message that the party Albertans want is on the way."

Spreading the message is easy.

It starts with signatures to register the party. Go down your street, into your office, or through a nearby apartment building, and gather signatures to register the party with Elections Alberta. (Apartment blocks are easy and very fast. Just ask any resident to let you in, and go from door to door. Remember, you are collecting signatures for a government form, not selling or soliciting.)

Follow the easy tips below.

1. Download a form from the Wildrose Party Web site
(Or click on "petition form" in the Web site's left margin.)

2. Door to door signature gathering

You: Hi. (BIG smile) Are you an eligible Alberta voter? (This is the only question that you need answered – if this is yes, it starts the conversation on a positive note. If the reply is no, it allows you to say "thanks, have a nice day" and move along right away.)

Prospect: Yes.

You: We are in the process of registering a new Alberta political party. The Electoral Office requires 6000 Alberta elector signatures to complete this registration. Your signature does not commit you to anything and you are not endorsing anything. You are just helping us to complete this requirement. Do you mind helping us out? It will only take a second of your time.

You: (After they have signed): Just in case you want to know more about the new party here is their website address (have it on a slip of paper). They have a really nice website.

Thanks very much. Have a great day.

It's important not to give them an opportunity to use the word “No”, and not to engage in lengthy discussion. If you notice, they only have that chance once, after “help us out”, but all you have to do is move to the next friendly, encouraging line really quickly. For example, if they say, "Why do we need another party?" just say, "We're just getting the party registered. Democracy is about choice, right?"

Try it on your friends and ask them how easy it is for them to say “No” to this approach.

Unless you know the person personally, little purpose is served in political discussion. If they are genuinely interested in the party, they will visit the Web site. Your purpose is to gather signatures, not sell party memberships to strangers.

What a farce! The Wildrosers' registration drive has degenerated into something resembling a sleazy, door to door, vacuum cleaner sales pitch.

One has to question why such tactics are necessary, given that Wildrose Party President Rob James was quoted in a July 7 National Post article saying that the Wildrose Party had been greeted by an "overwhelming positive response":
"We're getting overwhelming positive response to this," reports Rob James, president of the Wild Rose party. "We're hearing from all over the province, both rural and urban, from people in the PC party," disgruntled, he says, by a party seen as ruled by elites and neglectful of its grassroots.
The Progressive Conservatives recently had a leadership vote, in which well over 100,000 Albertans took out a membership in the PC Party and voted. If the Wildrose Party was making such "overwhelming" inroads amongst PC members, they would easily have obtained the 6,004 signatures necessary for their petition by now.

I also found this interesting:
Apartment blocks are easy and very fast. Just ask any resident to let you in, and go from door to door. Remember, you are collecting signatures for a government form, not selling or soliciting.
Seems like soliciting to me. They are breaching apartment security, knocking on the tenants' doors without an invite, and then soliciting signatures after giving a sales spiel.

Furthermore, I note that at no time in the example dialog contained in the email, do the Wildrosers admit to being "conservative" or "right wing". In fact, the email warns against wasting time with "political discussion". Part of the propaganda surrounding the creation of this party is the idea that there is a vast pool of non-voting Albertans out there who are staying away from the polls because there isn't a true right wing party to vote for. If this is so, why not state up front what the Wildrose Party is all about?

So, I see things rather differently than Werner Patels. In fact, based on the tactics they have been adopting lately, it appears to me that the Wildrose Party is going to miss their own self-imposed deadline of August 30, 2007 to submit their petition. That deadline was set out in the July 7 edition of the Wildrose Weekly:
We want to submit our 7,000 names to Elections Alberta by August 30, so we can be a duly registered party in good time for our founding Wildrose Party General Assembly October 26/27 at the Palace Banquet hall in south Edmonton.
In fact, I will go on record now and officially make this prediction.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

An email to the Wildrose Party

The silence has been deafening since the email scandal became public back on August 21, so I just fired off a quick note to the Wildrose Party asking for a response to Randy Thorsteinson's allegations:

I will post any response that I receive.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Scandal engulfs the Wildrose Party

Well, it was bound to happen. The era of friendly public relations between the Wildrose Party and Alberta Alliance Party has come to a crashing end.

For those of you who have not heard, the membership of the Alberta Alliance recently received a recruitment and donation solicitation email from the Wildrose Party. The email was signed by three high profile defectors from the Alberta Alliance - (i) former Interim Leader Eleanor Maroes, (ii) former VP Communications Marilyn Burns, and (iii) former Edmonton Region President Phil Gamache. Here is the full text of said email (sent August 21, 2007):

We are sending you this letter to suggest you check out the website:

I know you are as concerned as we are at how out of control our Conservative government is and has been for several years. As Ralph admitted – they had no plan beyond eliminating the provincial deficit and debt. It seems the Stelmach government also has no plan to manage the province’s resources, environment, infrastructure or social needs. A lack of affordable housing has created huge social problems and the government seems unable to take the necessary steps to solve the crisis.

The Wildrose Party has the backing of many previous Conservative members and donors. 200,000 Conservative members stayed home and did not vote in the last election. In the recent by-elections none of the parties gained in percentage of votes and the Alberta Alliance slipped in it’s support.

We believe the Wildrose Party is catching on with a large number of those 200,000 who stayed home in the last election. Our membership is climbing steadily and donations are sufficient for us to have hired a full time Executive Director and an Operations Manager.

Please check out our website and read our brochure (on the website). Should you decide to buy a membership and/or support us with a donation, you can do so directly from the website using your credit card.

It is obvious the Stelmach government will be vulnerable in the next election and we all need to support the party we believe most likely to challenge that government on the ground in the next election. We believe that party is the Wildrose Party of Alberta.

Eleanor Maroes
Former Interim Leader
Alberta Alliance Party

Marilyn Burns
Former candidate for Leader
Former VP Communications
Alberta Alliance Party

Phil Gamache
Former Edmonton Region President
Alberta Alliance Party
This email was quickly denounced by Alberta Alliance President Randy Thorsteinson in a second email to AAP members:
I have been inundated with messages from outraged members of the Alberta Alliance over an e-mail that they received from Eleanor Maroes, Marilyn Burns and Phil Gamache earlier today. I would like to state categorically that all three of them left the Alberta Alliance Party several months ago to join a rival political party. Their e-mail was unauthorized and done totally without our knowledge. In fact, they deliberately tried to hide their actions from the Alberta Alliance. Additionally, they purposefully hid their current roles on the rival political party Executive as Treasurer, Secretary and Northern Director.

I apologize that they sent you the e-mail, rest assured they did not get your e-mail address from the Alberta Alliance Party but rather from former candidates. It appears the rival party has been given your e-mail address from either Marilyn Burns or Eleanor Maroes. Each received a confidential Alliance membership list during the Alliance leadership election in 2005. Both Marilyn Burns and Eleanor Maroes were given a membership list under strict conditions of confidentiality and by divulging this list they broke their personal word to respect the confidential nature of the list. You have a right to your privacy and I am absolutely sick that these three people have betrayed that right. Unfortunately I don’t know what other information they have shared with the rival party.

Once again I apologize that they have given your information to a rival political party. I thought that they would honour their commitment to respect your privacy, but unfortunately they won’t.

I will do everything I can to remedy this situation.

Best Regards,

Randy Thorsteinson
I retrieved the text of these emails from the discussion forum at Project Alberta. Given that this story may develop some legs and go on for a bit, I have included all links in my public Furl bookmarks for ease of reference.

There are a few points about this developing scandal that should be mentioned:
  1. I think this shows that the Wildrose registration petition is in a bit of trouble. The Wildrose Party has imposed a deadline on itself of August 30, 2007 to obtain the 6004 signatures necessary to register the party. The Wildrosers are likely finding out that there simply isn't a very large market for the sorts of strident views Albertans associate with the founding members of this party. Since few mainstream Albertans are signing up, they have little choice but to cannibalize the membership lists of the other small right wing rump parties.
  2. Randy Thorsteinson indicates that both "Marilyn Burns and Eleanor Maroes were given a membership list under strict conditions of confidentiality and by divulging this list they broke their personal word to respect the confidential nature of the list." Assuming that this is correct, the sending of this email could result in professional ramifications for one or both of them. Marilyn Burns is a lawyer, and Eleanor Maroes is an accountant. As such, both are subject to a professional code of ethics. If either is found to have misused information they received in confidence, their respective professional bodies may have something to say about it. For their sake, I hope they are not involved in something this stupid. I note that the email would not appear to be digitally signed by them (their names are typed in), and may have gone out without either of them knowing it.
  3. If the Wildrose Party forms a government, they will have access to all kinds of confidential information on every Albertan: health records, financial information, educational records, and so forth. The privacy of such information is protected by law, but, if the Wildrosers are willing to violate confidentiality agreements to advance themselves as a party, why would anyone expect them to show any more deference for the privacy laws designed to protect people from government snooping?
  4. Randy Thorsteinson should deal with this publicly, not privately. He should make a public demand that the three signatories to the email be removed from the executive pending a full investigation. He should publicly release any confidentiality agreement that exists, and get the media asking questions about this. The public will be supportive of any effort to get answers, but, in order for them to be supportive, they have to know what is going on. I don't see anything on the Alliance website about this, nor is there anything in the media. Get it together.

I don't think we've heard the last of this. It will be interesting to see how the Wildrose Party handles this challenge. Like most political parties, they talk critically about the ethics of other parties, and about how they will be different and beyond reproach. From their website:

People are sick of politicians promising things and then not doing them.
When you live in glass houses, you shouldn't throw stones.

The Wildrose Party has some 'splaining to do, and some people to fire. It should make for fascinating viewing.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I have to put Link on hold ... for now

Thanks for your ongoing interest in this site. Unfortunately, my clinical dissection of Link Byfield's specious reasoning behind the formation of the Wildrose Party is still on the drawing board.

This pony has been a little too occupied with other matters, so I've got to put this blog out to pasture for a few more days.

I have set up a RSS feed for those of you who wish to be automatically notified of posts made to this site. Simply click the link on the right, and you should be taken to a page where you can select your reader and subscribe. If you want an even better option, take a look beneath "My Recent Posts" on the right hand side of this page. That link allows you to subscribe to my "Treason Trilogy" blended feed, which will keep you up to date not only on the anti-Alberta machinations of Wildrose, but on how the Alberta Alliance and Alberta Liberal Party continue to betray the public interest as well.


Thursday, August 9, 2007

Hi everybody!

Werner Patels has managed to find this blog, and the traffic is flowing nicely. I was actually hoping to have a few more posts up on the Wildrose Party before listing this on the blogrolls, but Werner is just a little too thorough, and noticed the link in my profile.

My first substantive post will be on the mental gymnastics Link Byfield has gone through in order to justify his involvement in this venture. At the risk of spoiling the ending, his justification is complete crap.

That post won't be up until late next week, so I hope to see you back at that point.

Oh, and Werner, as far as my political affiliation goes, I am non-partisan.

Definitely not a Tory.