Will the last MLA out of the Alberta legislature please turn out the lights?

Resignation fever swept the Legislature on this week, as another six MLAs announced they were not going to run in the next election. Most notable was the resignation of Liberal leader Raj Sherman, who announced on Monday that he was quitting as leader of the party immediately. Sherman was sincere and passionate, but never caught on with the public or the media. Five more PCs announced they would not run again, most notably Doug Griffiths. Like Doug Horner last week, Griffiths quit immediately, sparing him the scene of ex-Wildrose MLAs joining the PCs in their first caucus meeting on Wednesday. Clearly, Horner and Griffiths just couldn’t stand the spectacle of a sometimes vicious foe like Danielle Smith getting all kissy-faced with Jim Prentice. Can’t say that I blame them.

Still with Prentice, the premier announced on Thursday that he and his cabinet will be taking pay cuts to set an example for Albertans, by which he means public sector unions. The cut amounts to $11,000 from his $218,000 salary, and about $10,000 from the ministerial salary of $200,000. Prentice called it “symbolic”. No kidding. A ten grand pay cut when you’re making six figures won’t result in any minister resorting to Kraft Dinner. Combined with the resignations, a spring election — however unethical and borderline illegal — seems almost certain. The question now is, will he call an election before or after tabling a budget?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper continued his pre-election bill splurge, with word of more ‘tough on crime’ legislation, including ‘life means life’ sentences. Worse yet, Canadian prisons have cut out real milk in favour of money-saving powdered milk. Now, THAT’S cruel and unusual punishment.

On the day when the price of oil fell another four bucks a barrel, gasoline in Edmonton went up 15 cents a litre. I’ve given up trying to figure out any reasoning behind gasoline prices.

The voters of Greece, where tax avoidance is a national past-time, voted for a left-wing, anti-austerity party in the general election. Greece owes Europe quadrillions of dollars, and the Greeks have apparently decided that paying it back is something they’re not really into. The rest of Europe is getting rather pissed at their ouzo-sucking relatives, and there are bound to be recriminations. Worse, the new government seems to be sympathetic to Russia, the world’s least sympathetic country. Stay tuned …

Shocking news from the cola front. For years now, we’ve been drinking Canadian Coke, and didn’t know it. Canadian Coca-Cola has always been slightly sweeter than Coke sold everywhere else, but on Tuesday Coke began producing Canadian Coke that’s the same as everyone else has been drinking. It is slightly less sweet, with 8 per cent fewer calories. But it hardly qualifies as diet Coke; it’s still 240 calories, down from 260. Also coming up from Coke: less Coke. New 500 ml cans, down from 591 ml, are coming in March. So far there has been no outcry about the New Coke. Or is it Old Coke? Or New Old Coke?

On the business front, an up-and-coming company called Apple had a pretty good quarter, worthy of lots of italics. The computer/phone/music colossus sold 74.5 million iPhones (that’s 9.4 iPhones a second) made $74.6 billion in revenue, and $18 billion in profits — in the last quarter of 2014! That’s just three months. In the past 12 months, Apple’s revenues of $199 billion were greater than the gross domestic product of the Czech Republic. And to think that not too many years ago, I was afraid that Apple was going to go out of business and leave me with a useless Mac.

Remember last week how I railed against TV news simply repeating statements from politicians? Of course you don’t, but I did. Anyway, Global News Edmonton hit a new low in that regard this week. When Conservative MP Tim Uppal announced he was running again, Global actually ran this statement from Uppal: “In the next campaign, voters will face a clear choice between Prime Minister Harper with a proven record of protecting our values, managing the economy and keeping taxes low for hard working Canadian families; versus Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s high tax, high debt agenda that will threaten jobs and set working families back.” What news outlet worthy of the term would broadcast such flagrant, shameless, non-newsworthy propaganda?

RIP: Colleen McCullough, author of The Thorn Birds, at 77 …Joseph Rotman, 80, Canadian businessman and philanthropist … Link Byfield, 63, Alberta conservative columnist, politician and publisher … Rod McKuen, American poet and songwriter, at 81. Frank Sinatra commissioned an entire album (Sinatra: A Man Alone) of songs by McKuen, which resulted in his most famous song, Loves Been Good To Me.



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