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C2E Feedback Thread - Premier's address

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  • #16
    Ed Stelmach looked like a deer caught in the headlights

    There isn't an ounce of vision in that man's head.

    We are governed by farmers. I love farmers, I respect farmers, I come from a long line of farmers. But I would prefer to be governed by people with intelligence and experience, who are smarter than the average Joe. Sharing common social values shouldn't be enough to earn a position of provincial leadership.... it should require a modicum of intelligence, experience, foresight and vision. I want to be governed by people smarter than my neighbor, don't you?

    I saw nothing tangible to assure me of any of this, just a bunch of very general statements read by an unblinking man who looked terrified to be in front of a camera, who possessed the charisma of a high school accounting instructor, and who seemed to have no innate sense of the cadence of spoken English.

    On health care: "Albertans will need to show courage, to create a new kind of health care system." That scares the crap out of me, Ed. Courage is required to withstand something frightening or distasteful. What shoe will you drop? What the hell am I going to need courage for, beyond the hasty bed closures and mismanagement that's already got Albertans stirred up?

    On technology: It was said up above: "oil sands, oil sands, carbon capture, oil sands". For pete's sake, Ed. Please think further than that! We were rolling in billions of $ so recently, and some of it could have been used as a down payment in some kind of economic diversification. Instead, we all got a bunch of Ralph bucks, then health premiums were removed (for no apparent reason), and an investment was shoveled into a rainy day fund that we are having to exhaust just to pay the bills for the previous years of fiscal mismanagement.

    On the economy: Everything will be okay, because natural gas will climb back up, and we have a bunch of trees to cut down and oil sands to dig up, and public services wages can be frozen. Come on ... please ... give just a hint that there are people in this government who are thinking beyond farming, forestry and oil. Please tell me there is an economist or two who has the ear of cabinet, and who can talk some sense into this government.

    Ed, you're betting the farm on natural gas bouncing back by 2012, and if it doesn't then there is no plan B. If gas doesn't come back you're going to have to raise taxes significantly, reintroduce the health premium, and pull back on infrastructure investment... drastically, and all at once. Why not do a bit of all of this, now? Given how bad the rest of the world is faring, Albertans will understand if a nudge in taxes is necessary, or if health premiums need to come back. We're not stupid.

    No, I take that back... some of us are very stupid, and think that the best way to punish a bunch of inexperienced politicians is to invent a new party full of even more inexperienced folks who are even more narrow sighted.

    Alberta was the last province to get pulled into the economic crisis, and we will be the last out, and we got hit HARD. We went from predicting a $7 billion surplus in Oct of 2008, to a $7 billion deficit in Oct 2009. Suddenly, the government of Alberta was forced to face some of the economic, common sense realities that the rest of the country had been forced to deal with over the last several years.

    No longer does our government have the outrageous wealth to keep on blundering along without a plan or vision, not worrying about making smart decisions -- and now that we are in a position where very smart decisions need to be made, we find ourselves being led by man who tonight looked like a deer caught in the headlights.

    Somebody said it, I wish I knew who: "Ed Stelmach would make an excellent Mayor of Three Hills."

    Comment


    • #17
      I have been asked to “share my thoughts” by a friend so here goes…

      Firstly, for perspective, I am a “small c” conservative “fiscally” and in many respects a “small l” liberal “socially”. Furthermore, I don’t believe you can achieve and maintain the “small l” goals without respecting many of the “small c” disciplines. Secondly, I was a supporter of Ed Stelmach from the day he announced his candidacy for leadership of the Alberta Conservative Party and have never regretted that decision.

      In regard to his “address” this evening, if I had to distill my initial reaction to a single word, that word would be ‘underwhelming”. It was almost like listening to “the Premier’s office” or even "to caucus" and not “the Premier” – a speech by committee perhaps? I would much prefer to have heard “the Premier”. I would also have much preferred more in terms of specifics instead of platitudes regardless of how true those platitudes might well be. We already know how challenging times are but most of us also know there are few places in the world we would rather be as we try and meet those challenges – that’s one of the reasons why many of us chose to move here and why most of us stay here. We already know how blessed we are not only with energy, food and forestry resources but with human resources. We don’t need to be told that but would like to hear how those things will be built upon and not simply spent.

      I’m not sure about the direct connection drawn between a return to economic growth and a “need to tighten government spending” and all the while “protecting seniors and low income Albertans”. While I certainly support the second goal - and recognize that we need to do a better job of it in many areas than we have managed to so far - I’m not sure the first goal on its own won’t be a step backwards in our ability to meet the second.

      Yes, we need to balance our expenses with our income as a province - just as we do in our personal lives - but we need to do that over the long-term, not daily, weekly, monthly or annually. If that means using borrowed monies in leaner times in order to maintain a higher standard of living, that’s no different than using a mortgage to purchase a home sooner than one can buy it for cash. I was quite pleased to see a willingness to use “smart debt” in order to do that (as in bringing back Alberta Capital Bonds) and disappointed to see such a strong emphasis on freezing civil service managers’ salaries for two years “as an example for the entire public sector to share in this effort”. I also see no reason not to spend some of our “rainy day funds” during the current economic climate as announced – if the current economic climate is not “a rainy day”, I don’t know how you would define one.

      In regard to salaries, either we pay a fair wage or we don’t and if wages are too high – which is not fair - that should be addressed. But if they are fair, then a freeze “in principle” does not match the acknowledged need to invest in human as well as physical infrastructure. And for those that might want more “leading by example”, that’s as true for MLA salaries as it is for civil service managers or public sector employees – we will always get what we pay for and miss what we don’t (the assessment criteria should be performance, not cost). Furthermore, the unstated assumption that wages (as in talking about “jobs before wages”) are the only component of efficient labour delivery that may need to be examined seems to be a throwback to the early 90’s when circumstances were drastically different than today regardless of how much some parties would like to make them the same and apply the same solutions (again, the criteria should be performance, not cost).

      Is some of the foregoing a concession to the “right wing” that may consider the Wild Rose Alliance as an alternative even if it is primarily rhetoric both here and in practice? Perhaps, but if so I think it is misguided. The WRA has absolutely no appeal to me and I don’t believe it does for most other “small c” conservatives either (just as the platforms of the other parties aren't any more attractive to most of us either). They may be able to attract a by-election protest vote or even a straw poll vote that are both "risk free" to cast but I don’t believe that translates to the same “willingness” in a general election as I am still a believer in voting "for", not "against".

      Tonight's address was long on “principles” I agree with (maintaining an advantageous tax structure etc., planning for future growth and the infrastructure development - such as transmission lines - that will be needed to service that growth, respecting our seniors and our youth etc.) but short on facts, numbers and hard information. I would have preferred more of the latter rather than continuing to defer them to a series of plans and reviews that will influence next year’s budget. Albertans can appreciate the numbers and the spread sheets and projections on a multi-year basis whether they are pharmacology costs in the health care system or consumption trends for electricity – all of these and more could have been included and not just inferred to much more effect than the general references we were limited to.

      In many respects I consider myself lucky in having had enough exposure to Ed Stelmach in order to comfortably support one of the most principled and hard-working politicians I have ever met. I know how heartfelt his comments about our landscape and our heritage and our values are and I know how committed he is to extending the opportunities Alberta has offered historically to our children and our grand children. I also know how much he values consensus and respects the opinions of others but tonight I probably would have preferred to hear and to read “more Ed” and less consensus. This isn't a desire for more charisma - whenever I want to see more charisma I can always rent a movie - but more leadership.
      "If you did not want much, there was plenty." Harper Lee

      Comment


      • #18
        I'll second that Local Man except I don't want health care premiums to come back.
        I don't care if they add more tax to take up the shortfall just don't send me anymore bills for health care premiums.
        Gone............................and very quickly forgotten may I add.

        Comment


        • #19
          All rather vague, as has been stated below
          No offer for revisting of MLA's salaries
          No private enterprise incentives or diversification
          Change will come in healthcare but we are going to protect everyone ... ???
          Just akinda Charlie Brown event all in all
          Still waiting for the Arlington site to be reborn .......

          Comment


          • #20
            Premier's Address

            At the outset let me state that I have much respect for the good work the Premier has done over the years for the Province but that respect is slipping in recent months. These wild swings in policy must stop. Last year we had big raises and high spending and this year we see freezes. Last year we were hiring as many nurses as we could find, now we are laying them off. This is bad management. Why would anyone want to be a nurse in Alberta if after four years of University they didn't have a chance at a job. Why join the Alberta civil service at the management level if you will be subject to wage freezes every few years. These are smart, professional people that can work for the federal government or any large corporation. Why shouldn`t the senior, most talented people retire early since their pensions won`t grow for two years. All we can expect from this approach is a low quality, depressed work force with little if any will to tackle our problems.

            Clearly what must be done is to increase the Heritage and similar funds to a level were this approach is no longer necessary. Infrastructure is a case in point. Mr. Klein made us debt free by building up a hugh infrastructure deficit. When the economy recovered we paid top dollar for everything that had to be built and fixed. Similarly we spent years rehiring nurses and rebuilding hospitals. I support spending infrastructure dollars in the recession but the recession is a year old and will end. We should announce now a future reduction in spending on roads etc.. to level out the massive spending being done in recent years.

            If I were in the union ranks of government I couldn`t agree to a wage freeze. It just encourages `flavour of the month`policies that are reversed on a regular basis. To repeat, this is bad management. The fellow who was elected Premier was know as steady Eddie. Could we have him back please.

            Comment


            • #21
              I found this speech not much different from the speeches that Ralph Klein did a couple of years ago. I wish there was more detail but it looks like there was a lot to talk about in very little time. It would have been nice if Stelmach gave references to detailed information for us to look at if we wanted to. I believe Ed Stelmach is still dealing with the fallout from mismanagement practices the Klein government did such as out of control spending, short term planning etc. The Wild Rose Alliance doesn't appeal to me because as of today, they haven't decided on a leader and as a result have no clear platform. The recent polls and by-elections look like ignorant protest votes. People seem to already be forgetting that the WRA was formed by people with vested interest in the Oil and Gas industry to prevent the government from altering the royalty rates. I wonder how popular Ralph Klein would be if he was still the premier? He would have an lot of tough questions to answer about his government's spending habits prior to the recession regardless if the royalty rates were changed or not.
              Edmonton first, everything else second.

              Comment


              • #22
                Pay freezes

                Oh right, so the Alberta Government comes to the UK and temps all the top scientists away to Alberta with promises of untold riches, respect, opportunity and generous relocation packages and then when we arrive............................................ ........................................
                .................................................. ..................................
                .................................................. ..................................
                .......................PAY FREEZE..................

                Comment


                • #23
                  http://www.finance.alberta.ca/business/savings/
                  Anyone interested in Alberta Capital Bonds check out this web-site.
                  Gone............................and very quickly forgotten may I add.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by English_geo View Post
                    Oh right, so the Alberta Government comes to the UK and temps all the top scientists away to Alberta with promises of untold riches, respect, opportunity and generous relocation packages and then when we arrive............................................ ........................................
                    .................................................. ..................................
                    .................................................. ..................................
                    .......................PAY FREEZE..................
                    Welcome to Alberta.
                    At least it must have been pretty bad in the U.K. for people to come here in the first place. Pay freezes don't usually last forever.
                    Gone............................and very quickly forgotten may I add.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Why thank you. It is a nice town, but I have no idea where you guys go to socialise. It feels like home already!

                      Comment

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