Well, that was decisive.

The Wildrose and the Progressive Conservatives — the Hatfields and the McCoys of Alberta politics — agreed to a merger on Saturday. And it wasn’t even close.

Rank-and-file members of both parties voted in shocking numbers in favour of the merger of the two conservative parties. Remarkably (or suspiciously, if you’re that kind of person), the margins on the yes side were identical: 95% in favour. This couldn’t have gone much better for the two parties. The Wildrose set a high bar for a merger (75% had to be in favour), and they soared over it. The PCs needed a simple majority, and they blew past that.

The Wildrose, as you may recall, was formed by disgruntled PCs who didn’t think the Conservatives were conservative enough. They’ve never gotten along, but when Wildrose leader Danielle Smith crossed over to the PCs, with most of her caucus, in 2014, the animosity level went off the charts. So how did two parties with a deep history of mistrust come to unite?

It’s simple, really. They might distrust each other, but they both hate the NDP. The hatred for the NDP simply overwhelmed the dislike and distrust of the other side, and they decided for the good of their parties (and, as they see it, the good of the province), to end all the feudin’ and fussin’. The United Conservative Party, as the new entity will be cumbersomely known, will now choose a leader, which will certainly be a dogfight between Wildrose leader Brian Jean and Kenney.

There’s no way to paint this but as anything but bad news for the NDP. There is a tremendous, deep rooted dislike for the NDP and its ‘What, Me Worry?’ economic policies. While the NDP has its core of fanatical followers, overall support for the party is a mile wide and an inch deep. Thousands of Albertans voted NDP to simply get rid of the PCs because there was no solid alternative, and would love nothing more than to send their MLA back to working behind the counter at Starbucks. But it’s not a done deal. Everything now depends on who the new party chooses as its leader, and just how far right the new entity will go. Albertans, I believe, are economic conservatives but generally progressive on social issues.  If the UPC can avoid the whack-a-doodle conservative eruptions that plagued the Wildrose (a major challenge), and not threaten to eviscerate public services like education and health care, they can relegate the NDP to being a one-term wonder (as in, ‘I wonder why we ever voted for these idiots?’).

The next election isn’t until 2019, so it would be a fool’s game to make any predictions. The only thing we know is that Alberta politics just got a whole lot more interesting.

The Week in Donald

Donald Trump sat down the the Failing New York Times for an Oval Office interview this week. The Times published a partial transcript of the interview. Just for fun, here’s some of the interview. I wish I could say I was making up any of this, but I’m not. It’s all for real.

TRUMP: Hi fellas, how you doing?

BAKER: Good. Good. How was your lunch [with Republican senators]?

TRUMP: It was good. We are very close. It’s a tough — you know, health care. Look, Hillary Clinton worked eight years in the White House with her husband as president and having majorities and couldn’t get it done. Smart people, tough people — couldn’t get it done. Obama worked so hard. They had 60 in the Senate. They had big majorities and had the White House. I mean, ended up giving away the state of Nebraska. They owned the state of Nebraska. Right. Gave it away. Their best senator did one of the greatest deals in the history of politics. What happened to him?

(Who knows what happened to him… whoever he is?)

 

HABERMAN: [In Paris], I don’t think I’ve seen you look like you were enjoying yourself that much since the convention, really.

TRUMP: I have had the best reviews on foreign land. So I go to Poland and make a speech. Enemies of mine in the media, enemies of mine are saying it was the greatest speech ever made on foreign soil by a president. I’m saying, man, they cover [garbled]. You saw the reviews I got on that speech. Poland was beautiful and wonderful, and the reception was incredible.

(I guess Reagan’s “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” and Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” speeches have dropped a couple of notches.)

Speaking about French President Emmanuel Macron:

 TRUMP: He’s a great guy. Smart. Strong. Loves holding my hand.

HABERMAN: I’ve noticed.

TRUMP: People don’t realize he loves holding my hand. And that’s good, as far as that goes …  I mean, really. He’s a very good person. And a tough guy, but look, he has to be. I think he is going to be a terrific president of France. But he does love holding my hand.

(Macron was probably thinking: “Je ne peux pas croire a quel point sa main est petite”, which means “I can’t believe how small his hand is.”)

TRUMP: Ah, they’ve asked me. What was interesting — so, when Macron asked, I said: “Do you think it’s a good thing for me to go to Paris? I just ended the Paris Accord last week. Is this a good thing?” He said, “They love you in France.” 

(I think Macron was confusing Donald Trump with Jerry Lewis.)

TRUMP: We had dinner at the Eiffel Tower, and the bottom of the Eiffel Tower looked like they could have never had a bigger celebration ever in the history of the Eiffel Tower. I mean, there were thousands and thousands of people, ’cause they heard we were having dinner.

(No doubt a much bigger crowd than when Paris was liberated in WWII.)

Sad. Just sad. Almost as sad as Trump, apparently, discussing who he can pardon. Reports indicate that he was asking for legal advice if he could pardon his pinhead son Don Jr. – and even himself. It’s not the least bit suspicious, is it, that a guy would be inquiring about pardons before being charged with anything, is it?

 

Tragedy in the comedy world

Late night TV comics were in mourning this week the news came down that White House press secretary Sean Spicer had resigned.

Spicer was so bad at his job, you could almost feel sorry for the guy. From the first day he appeared, under Trump’s orders, to declare that Trump’s inauguration crowd was the largest crowd to ever watch an inauguration (“Period!”), Spicer has been a laughing stock and a media star. His daily press briefings were ratings gold for the news networks, which may be why Trump kept him around for as long as he did.

In honour of Spicy, please enjoy this collection of his greatest hits. We may never see his like again.

Scandal rocks Governor-General!

Oh! My! God! Did you hear the news? Governor-General David Johnston touched the Queen!

On Thursday, the National Post chose to trumpet the shocking news that the retiring GG violated protocol by briefly putting his hand on the Queen. This stunning event was deemed worthy of front page coverage in the National Post section of the Edmonton Journal, with a giant photo and a screaming headline.

When will this country grow up?

A story that should have been relegated to brief blurb inside the paper (if it merited coverage at all) was deemed to be the top story of the day. Is the National Post run by idiots, or by former Fleet Street hacks … or are they the same thing?

Still with the Governor-General — the appendix of the Canadian body politic — the appointment of Julie Payette to the pointless post was met with praise initially, until some modest snooping by the media found the former astronaut was briefly charged with assault (charge was dropped, never went to trial and was expunged from the record) and was involved in a fatal car crash (not her fault). This briefly became an issue, until it faded as fast as interest in the new governor-general.

RIP

John Heard, 71, best known as the dad from the Home Alone movies, and in dozens of roles since… Kenny Shields, 69, lead singer of the Canadian rock band Streetheart … Chester Bennington, 41, lead singer of the band Linkin Park … Martin Landau, 89, Oscar-winning actor (he played Bela Lugosi in the film Ed Wood). He first rose to fame in the old Mission: Impossible TV show as the disguise specialist Rollin Hand. His career bottomed out in 1981 when he appeared in The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island, but he rebounded with three Oscar nominations and multiple Emmy nominations.

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