Posts Tagged ‘ableg

Premier Alison Redford’s office launches odd attack on Wildrose leader’s pot stance

- August 27th, 2013
Wildrosepot

The latest attack on the Wildrose by the provincial Tories.

A dramatized account of a non-existent conversation in the premier’s communications office

Staffer A: “So, we accused her of playing politics on flood recovery, but that didn’t get any traction, what else can we criticize her for?”

Staffer B: “I dunno.”

Staffer C: “I’ve got it! Justin Trudeau wants to legalize pot.”

B: “So?”

C: “Don’t you remember? Danielle wrote once that she was in favour of legalization. It’s timely, and a big distinction between the premier and Team Angry™.”

A: “Wait, wasn’t that like ten years –”

B: “And didn’t we convince a lot of progressives to vote for –”

C (waving off the naysayers, exiting room): “It’ll be perfect. We’ll use photoshop, put both their heads on the page next to their quotes, send it on Twitter. It’s gold!”

In my head, that’s how the conversation went when deciding to put together the above photo.

I get it. Premier Alison Redford and Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith disagree on marijuana, and pot is hot right now.

But I don’t really think this is a hill to die on for provincial partisans.

For one, even if Danielle Smith were premier, and were in favour of legalization, as she wrote 10 years ago, she can’t change the Criminal Code.

Two, there’s no evidence decriminalization or legalization will lead to increased use, or unsafe communities.

Smith wrote those words as a columnist 10 years ago, and she hasn’t exactly hidden her libertarian leanings.

Further to that, public opinion is on Smith’s side in this debate.

And the premier’s reference to ticketing involves possessing small amounts of pot, a proposal pitched by the country’s chiefs of police.

While I don’t believe their proposal is a good idea, because it doesn’t go far enough, I will note for the premier that we’re talking about people with an ounce or less. These people are not a danger to our communities.

There are even reports that suggest it’s the position advocated by the premier that is the cause of violence. (Hat tip for the link to another guy named Breakenridge.)

I also wonder how all the self-styled progressives who helped Redford win the Tory leadership and the province’s top office feel about her hardline stance.

The case for decriminalization or legalization is there. And if the premier’s staff feel it’s worth these cheap stunts that open them up for a sound mocking, hey, bring it on.

Impaired driving deaths by the numbers

- August 9th, 2013

I have written quite a bit of late about alcohol policy in Alberta.

It is a pet issue of mine, and sometimes I feel as if the government doesn’t want to treat adults as adults, whether it comes to how we’re allowed to buy/consume it, or how the government isn’t necessarily being honest about the steady decline in impaired driving deaths.

In my most recent column on the matter, I detail some of those numbers showing a steady drop.

But it helps to look at how steep.

Here’s a couple of graphs I did up, thanks to the fine folks at infogr.am.

It’s hard to argue the province wasn’t making headway before the .05 law came into effect, and we’d have to see a really sharp drop before I’d call the new laws a success.

Wildrose policy upgrade muddying their message? Hardly

- April 9th, 2013

Much has been made over the last couple of days over the Wildrose announcing it would be reviewing some policy stances in an attempt to appeal to more Albertans.

Commenters under our stories accuse them of being nothing more than Tories with another name, and the deputy premier ridiculed them as selling out their own values.

I get that a complete reversal, or removal of core values, would be seen as a betrayal of all the supporters who have been with a party since the beginning, but as I say in my column this week, there’s room for improvement. And if you think a losing party would keep going to voters with the exact same playbook election after election, you’re fooling yourself.

If the goal of your party is to win an election, you want a winning platform. But it has to be one that sticks with your core values. A complete killing of the Alberta Human Rights Commission may not have worked for the public, but let’s look at other reform. Or let’s do a better job of explaining the benefit of the original policy.

I have no issue with policy review. It’s natural to review policy.

What I take issue with is a party that says one thing during a campaign then does the opposite once elected. That’s unforgivable.

CTF debacle an example of poor Tory decision making

- March 6th, 2013

Which seems like a better PR strategy to you?

1. Let one of your opponents listen to your budget briefing, then let their comments get lost in the shuffle of opposition politicians and other groups. And do it under the guise of “we’re full.”

2. Refuse them entry for the first time in 20 years, deal with at least 24 hours of criticism over the decision, let someone else extend them the olive branch, then turn around and say a spot just opened up.

Sometimes it’s just best leave well enough alone.

That concept was lost on the Tories, who told officials with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation they would not be welcome at Thursday’s budget briefing.

Now, at the start of a legislature sitting, this would normally be a minor distraction, with a Speech from the Throne to get worked up over, and the normal sparring in question period.

But this isn’t a new session, with no new Throne Speech, no legislative agenda.

All the focus is on the budget and the Tories’ reputation as stewards of the public purse.

The CTF has long been critical of the PC government, so the ouster from the lockup is at best terrible optics and, at worst, it’s petty and punative.

Some would like to point out that left-wing labour groups have never been allowed into the budget lockup, so it’s only fair the right is getting its lumps.

Forget that other groups haven’t been allowed in, and forget that it’s an alleged “right-wing” distraction.

A group that routinely spars with the government, one that for 20 years got access to the budget lockup, was suddenly told “Sorry, no go.” If the left shoe were being kicked off, I’d find it baffling too.

The optics of it are terrible, especially in a contentious budget cycle where the specific group has been a thorn in the side of the government.

Then for the premier’s office to turn around and overrule the finance department, AFTER the official opposition had offered a way in for the CTF and three other groups. Two of those groups could be called left-wing, I might add.

So we go from “We’re full, so too bad,” to “We’re focused on the budget and welcome their continued input.”

Dialling up questions on distracted driving law success

- June 21st, 2012

For the last few months, Alberta has been under rule of the distracted driving legislation, banning talking, texting, makeup application, reading, etc., while behind the wheel.

I have written my fair share about problems with the law, including provisions that prohibit changing music yet still allows lighting a smoke, or the nice sections that say you can’t even check your phone if you’re stuck at a rail crossing. And as a top traffic cop has suggested he’s seeing people go to greater lengths to hide banned behaviour, thereby taking eyes further off the wheel, there is fear of a greater risk of crashes.

But at least one member of the force is crediting the law for a reduction in crashes.

“I personally believe that’s the reason,” said CPS spokesman Kevin Brookwell, regarding the perceived link between the province’s distracted driving law and a large drop in crashes in the last three months of 2011 and the same period of 2010.

In the fourth quarter of 2011, there were about 9,400 crashes, compared to more than 13,000 in 2010.

A nice drop. Nothing to sneeze at, really. Fewer crashes are a good thing.

But because of the distracted driving law? Prove it.

Just because the legislation came into effect Sept. 1, doesn’t mean it gets credit for the drop.

After all, in the previous year’s three months, there was a drop of 2,000 crashes. And that followed two years of hikes.

Maybe some drivers were being extra cautious in Calgary in 2010 AND 2011. Maybe the new law played a role, but no one can give it credit for the whole drop.

To continue the analysis and looking at the first three months of 2012, a similar claim could be made. After all, from 2011 to 2012, there was a drop of about 2,000 crashes for the quarter.

But there was a larger drop, 3,000 fewer crashes, between the same periods in 2009 and 2010 and that drop was book-ended by spikes.

Traffic patterns, including crashes, fluctuate.

A drop can never be attributed to a single factor, and that includes distracted driving legislation.