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Opinion

The 5 Stages to an Alberta Party Election Loss

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The Alberta Party managed to attain 5x more votes than they did in 2015. Yet were the biggest losers of the 2019 election cycle. To be honest I believe we would have been well served to have the AB Party win a couple seats in the legislature. However, that is certainly not how things went down on April 16th. They gained 5x the votes and lost all three of their seats. 



I have seen some curious behaviour from former Alberta Party candidates as of late and it got me to thinking: ‘What is the AB Party (both party and individual candidates) going through right now?’ Lets explore what I believe to be happening and where I think they need to go to turn (what is now a fringe party) into the opposition.



5 Stages of the Alberta Party Loss



Denial
As mentioned The AB Party went into the election holding 3 seats, hoping to build upon their party growth. What they attained was actually pretty incredible. They recieved over 5x the amount of votes they had in 2015. From 33,867 to 170,872. The response to attaining 0 seats was not surprising and was somewhat humble In my opinion. Mandel cited being proud of the AB Party brand and, frankly, they should be. However, he was wrong for blaming polarization as the reason for the loss. You cannot simultaneously gain 5x the votes and blame polarization. The one thing missing here is that there has been no recognition that their platform was extremely weak. They continue to be in denial that their ideas were not inspiring, their vision was lacking, and their boldness was not focussed on any areas of importance. The AB Party is currently in denial. I do, however, think they are moving past this. Slowly but surely. 



Anger
Although we have not seen a direct example of anger from the Party we have started seeing some pretty broad examples of anger throughout the AB Party team/former candidates. I have seen individual candidates who have generally touted themselves as the calm and collected type start to lash out. I have seen insults directed towards conservatives and towards anyone who disagrees with them in general. It is clear that after a couple weeks individuals are starting to feel angry. This is to be expected it is, after all, a human trait. It is now a month after the election. Candidates who worked so hard for so long are realizing what the election cost them both financially, and emotionally. They find it freeing not to be under the “do no harm” mantra of the party system anymore and are beginning to say how they really feel. This is where the rubber really hits the road. The AB party was supposed to be different, made up of candidates who respond with thoughtfulness and consideration. The blinders are being pulled off and we are finding out that the AB party is just another party. They are no different than anyone else. They have their spin, they have their ideology, and ultimately they were fooling themselves into thinking they were different. Perhaps this is an opportunity for their candidates to prove me wrong and pull back on some of the over the top anger and remember that anger is in general, just not worth it. 



Bargaining
We have seen a very very clear example of bargaining this week. The AB Party refuses to accept the fact that they are no longer in the Legislature. They have asked for money from they LAO with the intent of being a quasi opposition without a seat in the legislature. They want the funding to do the research while they no longer represent anyone. This is just part of the steps of grief that the AB Party is facing. They are trying to hold on to what once was but no longer is.



Depression
I don’t think the AB party is here yet. Depression in the party sense is devastating. We are going to see growing disinterest from individuals who gave so much before the election. We are going to see folks question ‘What is the point?’. They are going to question the AB party principles, they are going to ask themselves if they should just try to change the NDP or UCP from within. There will be some individuals who pull back and you won’t hear from them again. This is the stage that the Party’s head brass need to address head on. They need to quickly work on inspiring individuals and they need to come up with a plan to allow individuals the time to “shut-off” after a tough election while ensuring they don’t lose touch. If the depression symptom spirals out of control their party will die. On an individual sense, and with sincerity, I do ask anyone who finds themselves getting into this stage to take the time to reflect on the greater good in life. Please seek help if you need to. Depression is nothing to joke about and, yes, an election loss is a legitimate reason for someone to become depressed.

Acceptance.

I do hope the AB party is able to move to acceptance quickly. Let’s look at a few things that the AB party needs to accept. 

1. They ran a terrible platform – Yes, there were things in their platform that were amenable. However, it was choppy there was no consistency. It focussed on things that Albertans didn’t care enough about. They were bold in all the wrong areas. 

2. The AB party made a mistake kicking out Greg Clarke as leader – There was no opposition MLA that I liked more than Greg. Make no mistake, (while Greg may not admit it himself) Greg’s demotion was a result of a coup from old PC members who didn’t like Jason Kenney. They were quick to join the AB party and place their own person in the position of leadership. Stephen Mandel may have carried the party to 5x more votes but there is no doubt it was on the kindness and likability of former MLA Greg Clarke. 

3. They cannot blame polarization for their loss – If they knew that the election was going to be a polarizing one they were perfectly positioned to create themselves as the opposing pole. Instead they positioned themselves as an outlier. The election was polarizing, yes. However, as I already said, they cannot simultaneously blame polarization while championing 5x more votes.

4. They are not different than other parties. – Trying to run a party as though Ideology doesn’t exist is a fools errand. The thought that they are going to do politics differently and its all going to turn out does not come from humility but rather just a vain attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the public. Trudeau is a perfect example of the AB party narrative. He was going to do politics differently too. The AB party just isn’t different from other parties and the idea that they think they are is actually quite frightening.
5. They need to stop talking, and start working – The AB party is doing themselves no favours by silly maneuvers such as asking for money from the LAO. They need to stop this nonsense and come to grips with the fact that they are now no different than the FCP, the AAP, and the AIP. They should look at the votes they attained as an opportunity to fundraise, not as a passage to being taxpayer funded. 





In Conclusion: There is a lot of room for the Alberta party to grow and become the official opposition in 2023. However, this will never happen if they get stuck where they are. They need to move beyond the Denial, Anger, Bargaining, and Depression stages and start to accept their failures so they can embrace the reasons for their incredible success at achieving 5x more votes than they did in 2015.

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Alberta

Retired Oil Field Worker sparks national conversation with his pitch for a new route to move Alberta Oil

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The following Opinion piece comes from local writer / editorialist (and former oil field worker) Garfield Marks. 

We have not been able to run our bitumen through a pipeline to a refinery in New Brunswick. There has been resistance in parts of Ontario and in Quebec. What if we came up with another plan. Would we consider it? There will be road blocks, but not insurmountable, would we consider it?
Yes how about Thunder Bay?
Thunder Bay, Ontario, the largest Canadian port of the St. Lawrence Seaway located on the west end of Lake Superior, 1850 kms. from Hardisty, Alberta. A forgotten jewel.
So what, you may ask. 
They used to ship grain from Thunder Bay in huge tankers to ports all over the world. Why not oil?
The Saint Lawrence Seaway ships fuel, gasoline and diesel tankers, to this day.
We could run oil tankers to the Irving refinery in New Brunswick, bypassing the controversial pipeline running through eastern Ontario and Quebec.
The pipeline, if that was the transport model chosen, would only need to run through parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. Like, previously stated the pipeline would only be 1850 kms. long. 
The other great thing about Thunder Bay is the abundance of rail lines. Transportation for such things as grain and forestry products from western Canada. If you can’t run pipeline from Hardisty, through to Thunder Bay, use the railroad.
Why Hardisty, you may ask.
Hardisty, according to Wikipedia,  is mainly known as a pivotal petroleum industry hub where petroleum products such as Western Canada Select blended crude oil and Hardisty heavy oil are produced, stored and traded.
The Town of Hardisty owes its very existence to the Canadian Pacific Railway. About 1904 the surveyors began to survey the railroad from the east and decided to locate a divisional point at Hardisty because of the good water supply from the river. 
Hardisty, Alberta has the railroad and has the product, the storage capacity, and the former Alberta government planned on investing $3.7 billion in rail cars for hauling oil while Thunder Bay has the railroad and an under utilised port at the head of the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Economics are there along with opportunity, employment would be created and the east coast could end its’ dependency on imported oil. 
Do we have the vision or willingness to consider another option. I am just asking for all avenues to be considered.
In my interviews in Ontario there is a willingness to discuss this idea. 
The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation is still reviewing the idea of shipping crude oil from western Canada through its system, and it’s a long way from happening, according to Bruce Hodgson, the Seaway’s director of market development.
“Obviously, there needs to be an ongoing commitment on the part of a producer, and so that’s going to be required for any project of this nature,” he said. 

We could consider it, could we not?
CBC NEWS did a story about this idea on March 7 2019;
A retired oil field worker in Alberta has “floated” a novel solution to Alberta’s oil transportation woes: pipe the bitumen to Thunder Bay, Ont., then ship it up the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Irving oil refinery in New Brunswick.
Marks’ proposal might be more than a pipe dream, according to the director of the Queen’s Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy.
‘I don’t think that it’s a totally nuts idea’
“I don’t think that it’s a totally nuts idea,” Warren Mabee said. “I think that there’s some flaws to it … but this is an idea that could work in certain circumstances and at certain times of year. … It’s not the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.”
The chief executive officer of the Port of Thunder Bay said shipping oil from the port “could easily be done.” 
“We ship refined gasoline and diesel up from Sarnia. We’ve done that for many many years,” Tim Heney told CBC. “So it’s not something that’s that far-fetched.”
There are, however, plenty of potential drawbacks to shipping crude through the Seaway, Mabee explained, not least of which is the fact that it isn’t open year-round.

The need to store oil or redirect it during the winter months could be costly, he said.
Potential roadblocks
Another potential pitfall is capacity, he added; there may not be enough of the right-sized tankers available to carry the oil through the Seaway. 
Finally, he said, the journey by sea from Lake Superior to the Irving refinery in New Brunswick is a long one, so it might make more sense to transport the product to a closer facility such as the one in Sarnia, Ont.
The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation is still reviewing the idea of shipping crude oil from western Canada through its system, and it’s a long way from happening, according to Bruce Hodgson, the Seaway’s director of market development.
“Obviously, there needs to be an ongoing commitment on the part of a producer, and so that’s going to be required for any project of this nature,” he said. 
So far, no producer has come forward seeking to ship crude through Thunder Bay, he said. 

Asked about the possible environmental risks of shipping oil on Lake Superior, both Hodgson and Heney said shipping by tanker is relatively safe; Hodgson noted that any tankers carrying the product would have to be double-hulled, and crews are heavily vetted. 
Time to rethink pipelines?
There hasn’t been a spill in the Seaway system for more than 20 years he said. 
Nonetheless, Mabee said, the potential for an oil spill on the Great Lakes could be a huge issue. 
“The St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes have a lot of people living in close proximity, a lot of people who rely on it for drinking water,” he said. “There’s a delicate ecosystem there. I think a lot of people would push back against this proposal simply from that perspective.”
In fact, one of the reasons Mabee appreciates Marks’ proposal, he said, is because it invites people to weigh the pros and cons of different methods of transporting oil. 
“If we’re not going to build pipelines, but we’re going to continue to use oil, it means that people are going to be looking at some of these alternative transport options,” he said.

“And if we don’t want oil on those alternative transport options, we need to give the pipelines another thought.

Time to consider all options, I dare say.

​Garfield Marks​

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Opinion

The cost of the Canada Winter Games?

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The following Opinion piece comes from local writer/editorialist Garfield Marks.

The Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre is a beautiful building but a very costly one. In more than money.

Construction costs of $22 million is an expensive undertaking. Operating and maintenance and interest on debt compounds the expense. The city is paying $11 million over a 10 year period or $1.15 million per year. (2017-2026) The college and the province are covering the rest, right?

Employees at Red Deer College are paying, too, and some are paying dearly. With their jobs. Red Deer College has to maintain a balanced budget, and with the huge cost of building, operating and maintaining this facility, they had to make cuts.

Early retirement, lay offs, and hours cut are an unintended consequence of the Canada Games.  The Gary W. Harris Wellness Centre was only about 25% of the cost of the winter games and will cost some residents their paycheques, their livelihoods with no one available to top-up their incomes.  Every resident will be paying for this centre for another 7 years, how much are we paying for the other 75%? Will we ever know?

The CFR cost the city last year $151,000 and $50,000 so far this year. Last fall when council voted themselves huge pay increases, one councillor stated they were worth the increases because they brought these events to the city. 

Thank you for lightening our wallets and for some their jobs. Will we ever know the real costs of the Canada games, would we do it again if we knew the real costs? I don’t think so but I doubt we will ever know the real costs, will we?

​Garfield Marks​

Background Information:

Budget Requirements, Council Decision Points and Funding Sources: click reddeer.ca

“…Through a tri-party agreement with The City of Red Deer, the Canada Winter Games Host Society and Red Deer College, a contribution will be made to the College over a 10 year period totalling $11,501,000. This contribution represents about 50 per cent of the expected costs of the Olympic sized ice surface and squash courts to be housed within this facility. Payments of $1.15 million will be paid annually from 2017 to 2026 inclusive. The grants being given to RDC for this project are funded from debt and the Canada Winter Games grant...”

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