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Ric Dolphin is president of Dolphin Media, Inc. and the editor and publisher of Insight into Government, a weekly newsletter available by subscription. He reports on Alberta political affairs from the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton, AB, Canada.

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Upcoming

  • Apr 17- 29 MP BREATHER
    Federal MPs take their spring fortnight break to ponder the newly introduced marijuana legislation and the federal budget, refreshed and primed for debate upon their return from the white strands & turquoise waters on May 1.
  • Apr 27- 30 LABOURITE CONFAB
    The Alberta Federation of Labour holds its first convention since the election of the NDP gov’t, which it credits with “laying out a progressive, worker-friendly vision for Alberta.” With unionization generally on the decline in Canada, the overriding theme of the event is best described in the blurb for guest speaker David Madland, an American author and union proponent: “Why Canadian Workers Need to Fight like Hell for Labour Rights... Including the Right for More Workers to Join Unions.” The convention is being held at the Edmonton Expo Centre (Northlands). For tickets and more info, go to http://convention17.afl.org
  • Apr 29 BUBBLES WITH BRIAN M.
    Transportation/Infrastructure Minister and Alberta’s longest serving MLA Brian Mason (Highlands-Norwood) will be holding his annual champagne socialist event­­—specifically the “Champagne Brunch” fundraiser at the “scenic Highlands Golf Course,” 6603 Ada Blvd., Edmonton—starting at 10 am. (Did he not get the memo that craft beer has become the politically preferred NDP libation?) Tickets $125 at http://www.albertandp.ca/champagnebrunch2017

This Week's Get a free sample

Week ending April 21st, 2017 Vol 31, No 29

FRENEMIES — BC NDP Leader John Horgan and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. Old friends who once worked together in Mike Harcourt's BC NDP gov't, Notley and Horgan are now at loggerheads over Horgan's opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline and Notley's support for it. Accordingly, she has banned her staffers from helping out on Horgan's election campaign.
This is a project that I believe is not in the interest of British Columbia, not in the interest of our marine environment, not in the interest of our economy
BC NDP Leader John Horgan on the Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline

Inside this week

The real possibility of an NDP win in BC is bad news for the NDP in Alberta.
Labour minister Gary stonewalls questions about labour reforms with pop culture references
The NDP are the top fundraisers in Q1, but there are mitigating factors

Top Story

Politics may make strange bedfellows but can also make estranged bedfellows. The latter would seem to be the case with the once close and interconnected branches of the New Democratic Party in Alberta and British Columbia who are officially no longer on friendly terms.

The BC election campaign, almost two weeks in, is of interest to the Notley gov’t­—and indeed to most Albertans­­— because there’s a reasonable chance that John Horgan’s NDP will defeat Christy Clark’s Liberal gov’t on the May 9 election and block the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

Polling at the end of the week put the NDP opposition, which currently has 35 seats in the Legislature, in the lead with 44% support from decided voters. The Liberal incumbents (49 seats) were polling at 40%. The Greens, whose leader Andrew Weaver is that party’s first and only MLA, were at 17%. At this stage, a minority NDP government with support from the Greens is entirely possible.

Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which was approved by the federal gov’t in November, has the blessing of Clark’s gov’t. But Horgan, 57, after some early indecision, decided to oppose the project. And even his old friend Rachel Notley, who met with him following the federal approvals, could not move him. Friendship is one thing; politics another...

Political Pulse

By the time the Legislature broke for its second spring break (aka “constituency week”) on Thursday, opposition members were growing a little weary of Labour Minister Christina Gray’s party piece. For several weeks, whenever a Wildrose or PC MLA had asked a pointed question about her ministry’s planned changes to the Labour Relations Code and the Employment Standards Code­—changes the opposition suspects will benefit unions to the detriment of employers­—Gray would deflect with a pop-culture reference from 1988, the last time the codes were changed.

PC MLA Richard Gotfried (Calgary-Fish Creek), a balding, 50-something male with a business background­—a type common to the opposition regions— stood up in Question Period on Tuesday to criticize the Labour minister for rushing through the labour consultation process in five weeks and having conducted only four meetings with carefully selected stakeholders (heavy on labour; light on business). And how many of these meetings, he asked, had the minister herself actually attended.

“Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker,” said Gray, a former software designer, and a large, spectacled, 30-something woman­—a type common to the gov’t regions­—with a placid, moonlike countenance and a deadpan delivery that sometimes drifts into the shadows of disdain.“We are very proud to have embarked on a review of Alberta’s workplace legislation because it has not been reviewed since 1988, since Tom Hanks starred in the movie Big. [Appreciative laughter from the NDP benches.] ...