Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Link Byfield appears on Dave Rutherford to discuss royalties

Link Byfield appeared on the Dave Rutherford show on September 25, 2007, in order to provide the Wildrose Party's spin on the Alberta Royalty Review Panel's final report.

At the beginning of the show, Rutherford indicates that Link Byfield seems to be "siding with the industry". I don't think anyone would quarrel with that assessment.

But hey, oil companies need political representation too.

Click to listen:

Dave Rutherford interviews Link Byfield - Sep 24, 2007

By the way, the retail price of gasoline in Alberta has gone up over 100% in the last 6 years. This represents an average annual inflationary increase of over 16% per year. U.S. Presidential candidate Ron Paul refers to inflation as "the inflation tax". It is just like a tax, except that it is levied on citizens by the private sector. Such massive increases in the inflation tax reduce the real value of the population's wages and savings.

The truth of the matter is that both government and industry have benefited massively from Alberta's royalty regime and inflation tax. The average Albertan gets screwed in the process, but this rather obvious point never seems to cross Link's mind.

He certainly doesn't take the time to mention it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Wildrose Party on the verge of missing another deadline

Further confirmation today that the Wildrose Party's registration petition is in trouble:

... party organizer (and senator-elect) Link Byfield tells me the party is now one-third of the way to collecting the 6,000 signatures it needs to become official.
2,000 measly signatures?

What happened to the "overwhelming positive response" Rob James was boasting about in the July 7 edition of the National Post?

This admission from Link Byfield basically confirms the prediction I made back on September 9. There is no way the Wildrose Party is going to meet its self-imposed September 30 deadline. The September 30 deadline came about when the Wildrose Party announced its "new plan" on September 5. The September 5 plan, which replaced the plan that had been in effect for July and August, asked members to blindly "commit 2 hours over the next 3 weeks." The Wildrose Executive predicted that the plan would result in successful completion of the petition so long as enough members agreed to take up the 2 hour challenge. Given that the total number of signatures gathered remains far short of the registration benchmark of 6,004, it is clear that few members responded positively to the Executive's plea, and the mysterious "new plan" has proven to be a flop, just like the first plan.

I hope Wildrose Party members have learned some lessons from what has transpired here. Albertans aren't stupid, and do not appreciate it when politicians treat them disrespectfully. The Party Executive is to blame for this fiasco, and, assuming the Party remains unregistered by the date of the convention on October 26, the Wildrose membership should demand an explanation from the Executive as to what went wrong here.

It seems clear to me that the Wildrose members are no longer responding to the current Executive, so it may be time to consider what changes need to be made in the Executive suite.

Incidentally, the main thrust of Terry O'Neill's blog post was to congratulate the Wildrose Party for coming out against the recommendations contained in the final report of the Alberta Royalty Review Panel. I am still considering this report, but am prepared to go on record now and state that it is abundantly clear to me that Rob James hasn't read the report, or doesn't understand it.

I wish to thank him for handing me such a lightweight and feckless response to a such a complex and important issue. I intend on using the Wildrose Party's news release as a club, and will be beating them over the head with it in the months to come - rhetorically of course.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Wildrose Party at 37%! Lyle Oberg is Premier of Alberta!

The latest edition of the Wildrose Weekly is out. The Wildrosers seem to be suggesting that they are about to hit a public support motherlode, which will result in them leapfrogging all of the other parties, and landing in first place:

An Update from the Wildrose Party of Alberta

Monday September 17, 2007

Townhall Meeting in Edmonton

The Wildrose Party will hold its first town hall meeting, in Edmonton on Tuesday Sept. 25 at the Old Timers' Cabin, a large hall at 9430 99 Street, Edmonton.

Albertans are looking for a new party.

In August, Cameron Strategy Inc. released these poll results.

"Albertans are looking for new political options -- on the most recent opinion poll, the largest group -- an astonishing 37% -- said they were undecided," comments Wildrose VP Finance Eleanor Maroes, meeting organizer and former interim leader of the Alberta Alliance.

The polls all show that other parties are not picking up these undecided votes. It is clear Albertans are looking for something new.

The Wildrose Party invites YOU to become that something new.
So Eleanor Maroes manages to take the result from a single poll, and misleadingly portray it as the consensus of all pollsters: "the polls all show that other parties are not picking up these undecided votes". Other than Cameron Strategy, no pollster has found the undecided vote to be anywhere near 37%. Since all the other pollsters agree the undecided vote is much lower than 37%, one wouldn't expect their polls to show other parties picking the undecideds up - or not picking them up - since their is no consensus that they exist at all.

Just a thought.

For a listing and discussion of most of the recent polls in Alberta, check out these posts on The Alberta Liberal Archive.

The Wildrosers keep trotting this poll out. Rob James just mentioned it in the August 24 edition of the Wildrose Weekly. I hate to be the one to rain on the Wildrose Party's parade, and point to a recent Graham Fraser column that reminded Albertans of Cameron Strategy's ridiculous prediction that Lyle Oberg was on his way to the Premier's office:
... Cameron’s polls aren’t always the most accurate. He used polling results to predict Lyle Oberg was in a two-way race for the Tory leadership race last year with Jim Dinning. Oberg didn't even make it to the medal podium. He finished fourth.
By the way, if anyone is planning on attending the town hall meeting on September 25, I would appreciate if you could take some notes on how many people attend, and what gets discussed. A few digital pictures would be good.

Then please email me a brief report. I may do a post on the meeting, to ensure Albertans get the truth, rather than self-serving spin of the sort Eleanor Maroes is guilty of in this week's Wildrose Weekly.

Your confidentiality will be fully respected.

Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Wildroser attacks! I'll put him off till later.

An interesting development occurred yesterday. A Wildroser posting under the pseudonym of "doktor" appeared on Project Alberta.

He made a couple of posts on a thread set up for the sole purpose of discussing little old me.

Rather aggressive I must say. I love it!

Doktor, I am not a salaried official in a right wing federalist political party, nor do I draw a cheque from a right wing federalist advocacy group, which means I don't have access to a list of benighted federalist Myrmidons that I can fleece for donations while providing them with absolutely nothing of value in return. I actually work for a living, and if I don't work, I don't get paid. I am a tad busy at the moment, and must postpone my response for a wee while, so I can research some issues that you have raised. So please do not read anything into my tardiness, doktor, because I do take your posts seriously, and intend on responding fully. It may very well be that a mea culpa is in order, and, if I determine it is, I will gladly issue same. However, doktor, I would like to quickly draw your attention to my public bookmarks (namely, the eighth bookmark from the top), and the screencap in this post. If you mouse-over the image, you will note that it is in fact a clickable link. Both of these URLs are properly formatted, and were published last Thursday evening. Yet, when I clicked on either of them, they both bounced higher than the final employee paycheques issued by The Report Newsmagazine. I was greeted with the screen I reproduced in the screencap embedded in my September 13 post.

The URL you see in the address bar in the screencap contains an "amp" string that is not part of the URL in my public bookmark, so it would appear that it is the server that is inserting the "amp" string - at least on this occasion. I say this, because I note you completely ignored these properly formatted URLs in your post, and have offered no explanation as to why these bounced, choosing instead to deal only with the URLs that bolstered your theory.

I have no way of proving what URLs I submitted to the server that formed the basis of my August 30 post. I believe I navigated to the "Executive" page through the menus on the Wildrose Party's site. The URLs that are reproduced in the links contained in my post certainly contain "amp" strings, but these strings would have been included in the server's response after my query bounced. That is when I would have done the cut and paste, and inserted them in my post.

One last thing. I notice that Cory Morgan has weighed in on the Project Alberta thread in this post. The following sentence concerns me:

Now we have to fear that the good Doktor may break down some of the rest of us and our loony postings.
Cory, I give you fair warning to stay away from doktor. I think I know who he is. He is a rather highly placed Wildroser. Given his background and reputation, it is safe to say that he will be at the forefront of the ongoing effort to cannibalize the Alberta Alliance. Friendly banter with such a person is not in your interests; he would just as soon eat your liver, along with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. Thup thup thup thup thup.

You best leave doktor to me.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Enough bullshit. The confabulations of Link Byfield.

This is the first post in a two part series. Links for all documents referred to in this post can be accessed at my bookmarks.
Although never explicitly mentioned, the Wildrose Party of Alberta was introduced to the public on June 15, 2007, by Link Byfield, in a piece published on his website entitled "Enough talk. It's time to go political." A better title would have been "Yet more Reform bullshit from a federalist confabulator", for that is what "Enough talk" amounts to.

"Enough talk" is written in a rather grandiose tone; the main purpose of the piece being to set out Byfield's vision for a political realignment in the province of Alberta. The article features Byfield guiding us along a new political continuum - a 20 year journey which begins with the Reform Party of Canada, and their federal reform agenda, continues through the publication of the "firewall letter" (the discussion of which leads to a retrospective revelation from Link Byfield on how the letter spelled the end for the federal Reform movement), and then, as we approach the present, branches off in a new direction mandated by another of Byfield's visions in which the real reason for Reform's failures is revealed to him. According to Byfield, Reform failed because the Reformers were contesting the wrong elections, for the wrong level of government! That's right. "Enough talk" tells us that in order for the Reformers to have effected the changes they believed in, they should have been running provincially, not federally.


As a prior supporter of Reform, I had no idea I was wasting my vote on a bunch of dunderheads who were seeking election to the wrong level of government. I feel violated.

But wait, there is no need for despair. Link Byfield's final revelation not only contained the reason Reform failed, but also provided Byfield with a vision on how Alberta could succeed, and the political vehicle we need to get us there.

Brace yourselves, I'm about to disclose it.

Fellow Albertans, according to Link Byfield, the thing we must do is create and support ......... another provincial Reform Party!

Wow. I never saw that one coming.

So there you have it. The right wing federalists in Alberta have provided a roadmap forward. It is much the same as the previous one, and the one before that, and the one before that. Nevertheless, Link Byfield is nothing if not optimistic, and is presently seeking support for his efforts to bring about provincial Reform Party IV. As Albertans, we therefore have a decision to make. We need to decide whether to support this latest incarnation of Reform, or not. In my view, choosing Byfield's approach would be a complete waste of time, but it is an option before you.

The other option you have is to choose to be a thinking citizen, and say this to Mr. Byfield and the rest of the federalist Reformers: "Enough bullshit!"

I urge you to reject Byfield's approach in its entirety. Link Byfield is a Canadian federalist, who bases his political positions on pipe dreams and hallucination, while ignoring the abundant evidence and documented facts that completely contradict his concoctions at every turn. For example, in spinning his tale in "Enough talk", Byfield manages to conveniently ignore one of the central tenets of Reform - one Preston Manning has gone to great lengths to emphasize throughout his career - namely, that Reform should stay out of provincial politics altogether. The founding fathers of Reform would never agree that pursuing reform at the federal level is hopeless, nor would they agree that Reform should evolve into a provincial party - yet these indisputable facts never get mentioned in "Enough talk", probably because Manning's principled stance, if acknowledged, would constitute a major obstacle for the unprincipled opportunists behind the Wildrose Party to overcome. Better to simply ignore reality, in the hope that Albertans have forgotten what really happened.

This essay is my answer to "Enough talk". My intention is to refute the specious arguments Byfield advances, and expose him for the posturing popinjay he has clearly become. There are many problems with the arguments in "Enough talk", but I will focus on the three most egregious ones: (i) Byfield's use of historical revisionism in describing the motives of the authors of the Alberta Agenda, (ii) his reliance on logically fallacious arguments in dismissing Alberta independence as a viable solution to the problems posed by Canadian federalism, and (iii) his failure to advance any cogent argument to justify replacing, rather than co-operating with, the Alberta Alliance.

This post will deal with the first of these problems. The latter two problems will form the basis of the second post in the two part "Enough bullshit" series.

The following passage from "Enough talk" contains the core rationale behind Byfield's decision to pursue reform at the provincial level. It is probably the most important passage in the article:

The key to reforming Canada lies in the Legislature of Alberta

Alberta, as everyone knows, gave birth to the Reform Party a generation ago.

That era is gone. It ended in January, 2001, when six noted Reformers in Calgary penned a famous “firewall letter”.

This was the first admission by Reformers that federal reform can’t come from Parliament. The initiative must come from provinces.

Best-known of the six were Stephen Harper, Tom Flanagan and Ted Morton, three of the best public policy minds in the country.

The firewall letter urged Premier Klein to use all the constitutional means at his disposal to distance Alberta from Ottawa, by opting out of the Canada Pension Plan, ending the provincial RCMP contract, collecting provincial income tax directly, and more vigorously challenging Ottawa in court over environmental and health interference.

Since they wrote that letter, the whole structure of “fiscal federalism” (federal subsidies to weaker regions) has come increasingly under attack by policy groups across Canada.

They say regional wealth transfers are bad for all provinces, not just the stronger ones. They also kill any incentive for have-not regions to take responsibility for their own future.

Ontario is even more harmed by the federal system than Alberta, but is too politically mired in left-liberal conventional thinking to force the issue.

The only province with the spirit and resources necessary to force change is Alberta.

But it must come from the Legislature. That’s where the constitutional power of the province resides.
This script represents a significant departure from the generally accepted political orthodoxy in Alberta. Let's be clear on what Byfield is saying. He is claiming that Stephen Harper, Tom Flanagan, and Ted Morton - along with the other authors of the firewall letter - intended their letter to signify the end of the federal Reform movement - that, from the date the letter was written, Reformers should have focused, and should be focusing, on the Legislature of Alberta, not the Parliament of Canada, as the institution that can reform Canadian federalism. He goes so far as to characterize the firewall letter as an admission: "This was the first admission by Reformers that federal reform can't come from Parliament. The initiative must come from provinces". Well, since the firewall letter contains no such explicit admission, I assume Byfield means the letter amounts to an implied admission, on the part of the authors, that they now viewed federal Reform efforts as futile, and Alberta Reformers should hereinafter turn their attention to Edmonton.

I found this theory fascinating when I first read it, because, to my knowledge, no other political scientist or pundit has ever characterized the firewall letter this way. From what I can see, it is widely considered to be a proposed plan of action for responding to the Chretien government's ongoing harassment and demonization of Alberta. The letter is really about how to build and secure a prosperous future in Alberta in spite of an "aggressive and hostile" government in Ottawa:
We believe the time has come for Albertans to take greater charge of our own future. This means resuming control of the powers that we possess under the constitution of Canada but that we have allowed the federal government to exercise. Intelligent use of these powers will help Alberta build a prosperous future in spite of a misguided and increasingly hostile government in Ottawa. ...

It is imperative to take the initiative, to build firewalls around Alberta, to limit the extent to which an aggressive and hostile federal government can encroach upon legitimate provincial jurisdiction.
No broad themes regarding the futility of pursuing reform at the federal level are contained in the letter, nor were such themes read into this letter by anybody else, and, in what is most certainly an unusual development, the authors themselves have never, in the 6 years since it was published, argued that their letter was intended to convey the message that Byfield is claiming it contains. In my view, the letter doesn't even amount to a general condemnation of Canada or federalism. It is a condemnation of the kind of centralized and hostile federalism practiced by the Chretien government only:
We are not dismayed by the outcome of the election so much as by the strategy employed by the current federal government to secure its re-election. In our view, the Chretien government undertook a series of attacks not merely designed to defeat its partisan opponents, but to marginalize Alberta and Albertans within Canada’s political system.

One well-documented incident was the attack against Alberta’s health care system. To your credit, you vehemently protested the unprecedented attack ads that the federal government launched against Alberta’s policies – policies the Prime Minister had previously found no fault with.

However, while your protest was necessary and appreciated by Albertans, we believe that it is not enough to respond only with protests. If the government in Ottawa concludes that Alberta is a soft target, we will be subjected to much worse than dishonest television ads. The Prime Minister has already signaled as much by announcing his so called “tough love” campaign for the West.
Properly read, all references to the federal government contained in the firewall letter are clearly references to the government of the day - being the Liberal government lead by Jean Chretien. The corollary to this is that if the government in Ottawa is not hostile and aggressive, the steps outlined in the firewall letter would not be necessary.

Byfield has provided no quotes from any of the authors that would constitute evidence that his interpretation of what they intended was in fact what they intended. If the authors of the firewall letter truly meant to say that participating in federal politics was futile, wouldn't it have made sense to ask them if this is what they meant, rather than simply constructing an argument on a foundation that is possibly false?

Since Byfield neglected to confirm his theory about the meaning of the firewall letter with the authors, perhaps he consulted other evidence in the public domain to support his position. Perhaps the authors have done or said something that would support Byfield's interpretation. Since Byfield dealt primarily with Ted Morton, Tom Flanagan, and Stephen Harper, I will do likewise.

Ted Morton has been politically active since authoring the firewall letter. In fact, within a couple of months of writing it, he accepted a position in Ottawa as "Parliamentary Director of Policy and Research" for the Canadian Alliance. The Canadian Alliance was a federal political party that believed, as one of its core principles, that Ottawa could be reformed if Westerners elected the Canadian Alliance federally. If Morton had given up on Ottawa - as Byfield would have us believe - why would he waste his time participating in such a party?

Since 2004, Morton has turned his attention to the provincial scene. Even there, he has never expressed the sentiment that "reform can't come from Parliament". In fact, he campaigned for the federal Conservatives in 2006, and publicly stated on the evening of their election victory that the Harper government would be of significant benefit to Alberta and Albertans:
"[Alberta] will have significant influence," said Ted Morton, who is a member of Ralph Klein's government in Alberta, but who also belongs to the so-called Calgary school of right-wing thinkers who helped shape Mr. Harper's political views.

"You have a prime minister from Alberta who understands Alberta and Alberta's interests and how they fit in Confederation, and you're going to have several cabinet ministers from here as well and the most experienced core of MPs," Mr. Morton said.
How is any of this consistent with Byfield's theory that Morton is of the view that "federal reform can’t come from Parliament"? It seems that once the federal Liberals were replaced by "a prime minister from Alberta", Morton was quite bullish on the importance of Ottawa's role in understanding and representing "Alberta and Alberta's interests and how they fit in Confederation".

Now, those that support Byfield's thesis may attempt to point out that Morton has been a strong advocate of the Alberta Agenda since first co-authoring the letter. This is true, but a careful examination of what he is actually saying about the firewall reveals that he is taking the polar opposite view on reforming federalism than the one Byfield attributes to him in "Enough talk". For example, consider a Morton opinion piece that was published in the Globe and Mail just after the federal election in 2004. In "Whither the West: Firewalls or Bridges", Morton clearly supports the idea that federal reform must take place at the federal level, and that the problem in achieving federal reform lies in the fact that it is the Liberals who form the government:
Monday's election results were a bitter pill for most Western Canadians. Not only did Harper and his new Conservative Party fail to make the necessary break through in vote-rich Ontario, but the so-called "party of national unity" had once again used the regional divide-and-conquer strategy to bring their stray Ontario sheep back into the Liberal fold.

For Westerners, all the old policy irritants remain (Wheat Board, gun registry) or get worse (Kyoto). All the structural reforms sought by Western reformers for the past 20 years-Senate reform, a public vetting of Supreme Court appointments, democratic reform of House of Commons-will remain frozen in the netherworld of think tanks and policy forums.
Clearly, Morton is suggesting that if the Conservatives had won the election, "all the structural reforms" to Canada that the West has been seeking would be on the front burner. This passage, written 3 years after the firewall letter, reveals Morton's true state of mind: he believes that federal reforms must be achieved at the federal level, and if the federal government is Conservative, we can expect the reforms to move forward. This quote completely contradicts Byfield's theory that Morton believes pursuing reform at the federal level is hopeless. What Morton really believes is that having a provincial government pursuing the Alberta Agenda would be of benefit when there is a hostile and aggressive Liberal government in Ottawa. He refers to this as the "or else side of the equation":
In 1985, Bert Brown, my fellow Senator-Elect, plowed into his barley field Alberta's message to Ottawa: "Triple E Senate or else." That was 20 years ago. The West's complete failure to make any progress on Triple E Senate reform since then is directly linked to our lack of progress on the "or else" side of the equation.

Why would the beneficiaries of the status quo-Ontario and Quebec-agree to meaningful Senate reform if there are no costs for ignoring the issue. The Liberal Party knows that it can easily form governments without any support from Alberta or the West. They've done so for decades, and did again last Monday.

So, if we cannot achieve more Western influence within Ottawa-the purpose of Senate reform-we should pursue reasonable policies to reduce Ottawa's influence in the West: withdraw from the Canada pension plan and create our own provincial pension plans; collect our own income taxes; cancel our contracts with the RCMP and create our own provincial police forces; take control of our health delivery systems; and use the notwithstanding clause when nine, non-elected judges in Ottawa try to impose their notion of good public policy on our democratically elected governments.

Media pundits like to characterize this as the radical "firewall agenda." Of course, it is anything but radical. Each of these policies is already in place in either Quebec, Ontario or both.

"Triple E Senate or else." For many Westerners, it's time to start working on the "or else."
Morton's view is that when the Conservatives are in government, federal reform will happen because the Conservatives support federal reform; when the hostile Liberals are in government, they will be reluctantly forced to accept federal reform, "or else" face the Alberta Agenda, which will lessen Canada's influence in Alberta.

It doesn't matter which federal party is in power. The Alberta Agenda is a coercive means to effect reform of the federal government, but Morton still believes federal reform must come from Parliament, and he would clearly disagree with Byfield's opinion that "federal reform can’t come from Parliament. The initiative must come from provinces."

What about Tom Flanagan and Stephen Harper? Have they, since 2001, been of the view that federal politics is an irrelevant political pursuit for reform-minded Westerners? Stephen Harper is the Prime Minister of Canada, and Tom Flanagan has served as his Chief of Staff and principal advisor. He was the national campaign director for the Conservative Party of Canada in 2004, and was a senior campaign advisor in the 2006 election. As such, he would have had input into and knowledge of the Conservative Party's policy documents throughout this time.

If Tom Flanagan and Stephen Harper were of the view that "federal reform can’t come from Parliament", and the initiative for reform "must come from provinces", it is passing strange that they would play such prominent roles in a party that published and campaigned on a wide array of policies to reform the federal government.

From page 5 of the Conservative Party's 2005 Policy Book:

Provisions on Senate Reform and federal electoral reform.

From page 6:

Provisions on reforming the courts and scrutinizing judicial activism.

More from page 6:

Provisions on "Open Federalism", which deals with respecting provincial jurisdiction, and limiting federal intrusions into provincial jurisdiction vis-a-vis the spending power.

From page 7:

Extensive provisions on reforming how the Canadian federation operates - both in terms of distribution of powers and fiscal capacity - with one of the express goals being to "alleviate the alienation felt by citizens of the West".

Now, having read this, can anybody sensibly claim that Tom Flanagan and Stephen Harper were of the view that "federal reform can't come from Parliament", when they are campaigning for Parliament on an agenda that emphasizes considerable federal reform?

I won't bother reproducing the sections of the Conservative Party's 2006 Campaign Platform that also touch on these themes. I have a couple of links to the document in my public bookmarks. Suffice it to say that the same extensive federal reform agenda can be found on pages 42 through 44.

Assuming Flanagan and Harper were sincere in what the wrote, published, and campaigned on in the last few years, it is abundantly clear that they hold the polar opposite view to that which Byfield is attributing to them when it comes to pursuing reform at the federal level.

There is one final piece of evidence that I wish to adduce - straight from the mouth of Stephen Harper. On the night of his 2006 election victory, he was quoted thus:
In his victory speech, Harper told supporters "The West has wanted in, the West is in now."
Now, the phrase "the West wants in" has been around since the Western Assembly held in Vancouver in 1986, which gave birth to the Reform Party. It has always been synonymous with the pursuit of federal reforms by pushing an agenda at the federal, not provincial, level. If Harper honestly held the belief that Byfield is attributing to him, why on earth would he say such a thing? In using this quote, it would appear Harper not only believes in the pursuit of federal reform at the federal level, but that, in electing him, federal reform has essentially been achieved - or will be achieved in his mandate - making the Alberta Agenda completely superfluous.

Given the foregoing, one has to wonder what has gotten into Link Byfield. Maybe he actually believes what he wrote. In fact, I think he does. Such is the essence of confabulation.
This is the first part of a two part rebuttal of Link Byfield's June 15, 2007, article entitled: "Enough talk. It's time to go political." The final part, when published, will be linked to here.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Wildrosers are up to their old tricks again

This screencap may result in deja vu for regular Wildrose Report readers:

Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy

"You are not authorized to view this resource. You need to login." Hmmm. Where have I read that before?

Oh yeah. Scroll down to the August 30 update.

I confess, I have been poking around on the Citizens Centre website in order to complete the research necessary to finalize my evisceration of Link Byfield's June 15 article entitled "Enough talk. It's time to go political." The link the Wildrosers are blocking is the link to that post. It worked fine just a couple of hours ago.

Well, I guess I'll have to go see if I can find the article I need in the Google cache, just like I did last time.

Be back in a tick.

Update 09/13/07: I have obtained screencaps of "Enough talk. It's time to go political." It was originally spread over five pages on the Citizens Centre site. You can get the links for all screencaps and links for the other references I am using in my upcoming article at my public bookmarks.

Given that this is now the second attempt at obstructing my access to information - and the second humiliating failure to do so - I hope the Wildrosers will, from this point forward, cease and desist from such nonsense.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Who is in charge of the Wildrose Party's registration drive?

The first edition of the Wildrose Weekly was published on July 6, 2007. In it, readers were introduced to the Wildrose Party's new Vice-President Membership, Sharon Maclise:

Sharon's summer project -- recruit a new political party

Many people have summer projects, but few are as challenging as the one taken on by Sharon Maclise of Edmonton.

Sharon is vice-president membership for the fledgling Wildrose Party of Alberta, and must collect 7,000 signatures by the end of August to register the new party with Elections Alberta.
She is one of 13 executives elected at the party's formation meeting two weekends ago.

"That number 7,000 doesn't sound so big -- until you think of collecting them one person at a time," says Sharon.

But Maclise knows how to get things done. She came to Alberta as high school teacher from Saskatchewan in 1972, and switched to real estate six years later. She now runs her own real estate management and development company.

Sharon was not only willing but eager to dedicate her summer to this Wildrose Party membership-building campaign. "Like many, many Albertans, I have been looking for good people who can effect positive change," she explains. "I have now found them and I think thousands of Albertans will soon realize that they have found them, too - in this new party." ...

... Instead of standing with a clipboard outside shopping malls herself all summer, she's hopeful lots of others will pitch in. "We just need everyone to do a little bit," she says.

This is Sharon's plan, based on the simple fact that everyone probably knows at least a few other interested people. ...
The document then goes on to describe the particulars of "Sharon's plan". Based on the foregoing, there is no doubt as to who was in charge of the registration drive. It was the VP Membership, Sharon Maclise.

Is this still the case?

I am in receipt of private Wildrose Party documentation that tends to show that it is actually the Executive Director, Link Byfield, who is now running the registration drive. The correspondence in my possession indicates that Byfield has become the de facto VP Membership, or, at the very least, has assumed control over a critical portion of the duties of the VP Membership.

I have already blogged about the alarming rate at which the Wildrose Executive is shrinking. Now, it would appear that the current VP Membership has had the core part of her duties assumed by the Executive Director, rendering her a titular member of the Executive only. I cannot opine as to whether Sharon Maclise voluntarily gave up her role at the end of August, or whether Link Byfield simply began asserting himself as the one in charge of the registration drive. My information is not that specific.

I can state with confidence that beneath the surface, there are simmering tensions amongst the Wildrose Executive over this issue.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

New deadline looms

I wish to mention that the September 5 edition of the Wildrose Weekly also represents the beginning of a countdown to a new, self-imposed deadline. The "new plan" asks members to blindly "commit two hours over the next three weeks". A three week period beginning on September 5 would expire on or about September 26.

Let us be generous in our interpretation and give them until the end of the month. The Wildrose Party is now stating that they will have the signatures necessary to register the party by September 30, 2007.

I will go on record again and predict that they will miss this deadline, just as they missed the first one.

How can I know this?

Well, there is no way to be sure, but I am detecting signs and signals that things are not going very well at all. This party is in trouble ...

... and the blame lies with those at the top.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Sleazy sales tactics dominate Wildrose Party's registration drive

For this plan to succeed, however, we need you -- personally -- to commit two hours over the next three weeks. Will you? If yes, we'll explain exactly how you can help the Wildrose Party get this done.

Please tell us by email ( if you think the Wildrose Party is worth two hours of your own time.
The above paragraphs come from the latest edition of the Wildrose Weekly. I first blogged about this passage here.

I found this passage annoying the first time I read it, but couldn't quite put my finger on exactly what it was about it that bothered me. I have just figured it out.

This passage is a perfect example of a manipulative sales tactic called the commitment question. It is one of the ways used to get people to do things or buy things that they would not ordinarily be interested in. It is a manipulative psychological technique; the idea behind it is that once you get a person to say "yes" to your initial request, it is far more difficult for them to back out when you expound on what you are asking them to do. The target of this technique is more hesitant to decline to participate because it makes them feel as if they are welching on a previously made commitment.

Analyze the structure of the passage I have reproduced. The Wildrose Party is first getting its members to agree to a commitment of 2 hours, then it will provide the details to its members as to what they are being asked to do. The commitment is made when the email is sent in, but there is no way a member can know what they are committing to.

If the details of the plan amount to an activity the Wildrose member is not comfortable with - such as aggressively soliciting signatures at a seniors' residence - they then face a dilemma. They either have to back out of the commitment to donate time to the party, or they can hold their nose and unwillingly go through with whatever unsavoury action the Wildrose Executive has dreamed up.

It would be a better practice and more ethical if the Wildrose Executive gave the members details of the "new plan" up front, so that they can decide if they wish to partake in the process or not. As such, I hereby call on Link Byfield and the rest of the Wildrose Executive to (i) abandon this "commitment question" approach, (ii) publish the full details of the new plan referenced in the most recent Wildrose Weekly, and (iii) stop these attempts at duping the membership.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Wildrose Party admits its registration drive is a bust

The latest edition of the Wildrose Weekly is out. It confirms the accuracy of the prediction I made in my August 28 post, namely, that the Wildrosers have not gathered the signatures necessary to register the party:

Action breeds success

Media attention is good, says president James, but by itself is worth little. "A party has to be more than a news story, and more than a private discussion group. A party is a network of effective volunteers in which everyone helps a little. No volunteers, no party. It's as simple as that."

August has ended finding us well short of the 7,000 signatures we need to register as a party. If this is not solved now it will become a serious problem.

Without provincial registration, we can do nothing. We can't issue tax receipts or identify our candidates on the ballot.
Sounds serious, but wait:
... we ... have a new plan. Now that we know exactly how much work is involved, and the fastest way to gather signatures, we can organize it so that nobody has to give it more than a couple hours.

For this plan to succeed, however, we need you -- personally -- to commit two hours over the next three weeks. Will you? If yes, we'll explain exactly how you can help the Wildrose Party get this done.

Please tell us by email ( if you think the Wildrose Party is worth two hours of your own time.
I wonder if this "new plan" will be any better than the comedy of errors the Wildrose brain trust has orchestrated to date. For those who haven't been following, I'll review some of the registration tactics that have come to light so far (after all, this stuff never gets old):
  • First, the Wildrosers tried to recruit Alberta Alliance members to their cause by emailing them a donation solicitation email, and asking that they join the Wildrose Party. That plan backfired when Alliance President Randy Thorsteinson got ahold of the email and informed the AA membership that the Wildrosers had gotten their email addresses from a confidential list that had been misappropriated by one or more of the former Alliance politicos whose names appeared on the email.
  • Then, on August 28, the Wildrose Party sent out an email to their own members asking them to start sneaking into apartment buildings and going door to door soliciting signatures using an aggressive, high pressure, sales script (while denying that this approach amounted to soliciting).
For the sake of the Wildrose members who answer this latest plea for help, I hope the "new plan" is more ethical and efficacious than either of these boneheaded approaches.

Just so you are aware, the last provincial party to successfully complete a registration petition was the Alberta Alliance in 2002. I understand that Randy Thorsteinson approached that task by hiring a marketing firm to go out and get the necessary signatures. He obtained over 10,000 signatures that way.

Perhaps the Wildrose Party Board should have done the same with its funds, rather than use them up putting the Executive Director and Operations Manager on the payroll.

Just a thought.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Wildrose Party policy proposals appear on Free Dominion

It is a rather unorthodox way for a political party to make an announcement, but a post appeared on Free Dominion this morning entitled "Wildrose Party of Alberta Policy Proposals".

I have no idea whether this is an official list from the Party or not, although I suspect that it is. For what it is worth, here are the proposals, in a slightly more readable form.

My initial reaction is that the Alberta Alliance must be delighted. The Wildrosers are exposing themselves as being even less knowledgeable and capable than the AAP.

Having said this, and given my commitment to fairness, I remind you that these are proposals only. The final policy document won't be known until after the Wildrose convention set for late October.

Every party has its share of constitutional illiterates, cranks, and screwballs - and the policy process at Wildrose has obviously been hijacked by same. Nevertheless, until the policy document is finalized, I will forbear from giving it the thorough debunking that - by all indications - it so clearly deserves.

Update 09/04/2007: The proposed policies are now up at the Wildrose Party website.