Ralph Klein has gone and it is time to retire Ralph's World. Thanks to all of you who have supported this venture by contributing material and through your comments. It has been fun.

Should we get another blog underway? Let me know your thoughts by e-mailing me at johnnyslow@gmail.com.

John Slow
January 1, 2007

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Smells Like an Election to Me 

Klein recommends year freeze on insurance. CBC article

Hmmmm.... Now that the insurance rates have gone up by 50.1% in the last year, Ralph is going to freeze 'em high. Click here for details on the rate increase.

Well, this should keep the insurance companies happy. They made $644 million in profits this year, up from $110 million the same time last year. I'm sure they would happily have these rates frozen for all eternity. It will also keep the injury lawyers happy as it provides lots of money for injury settlements and consequently, lawyers' contingency fees. So the boys and girl on Rob Renner's insurance reform committee (three insurance company people and three lawyers) will likely praise Ralph publicly by saying things like "The Premier has taken a prudent wait-and-see approach in this very important matter and we concur completely with his judgment."

Most importantly for Ralph and his Tory band, they can avoid having to do anything about insurance for a full year. They might even try calling an election for Fall 2004 and hope they can avoid responsibility for their insurance mess by saying "We have our very best people working on a made-in-Alberta Insurance Policy and we will announce the details shortly after being re-elected."

By very cautious fellow Albertans. The spin doctors are out and their after your mind.


Well before Ralph Klein became party leader, Conservative politicians were holding meetings supposedly to learn from the people of Alberta what they wanted from their government. In fact, however, consultants were being paid big fees to manage and control the information available to those preselected groups who overwhelmingly came from the financial and corporate interests of Alberta. Social values weren’t allowed to bother anyone there. For example, in his book The Klein Revolution, Marc Lisac reported in 1995, “At a workshop on training, participants found not having any teachers around made discussion easy (p. 53).”

As part of the the illusion that these discussions were about “real Albertans” a fictitious couple named Martha and Henry were invented to represent all of the severely normal people in the Province. When came time to vote in 1993 Marthas and Henrys all over the Province swallowed the bait, hook-line-and-sinker. Then, having crawled into bed with the Tories, they fell asleep. Ten years later Martha and Henry have started to wake up. Insight is hitting them like a bolt of lightening. Let’s listen in:-

Martha: Henry wake up!

Henry: Huh? Whazzup?

Martha: We’ve been robbed!

Henry: Whaddya mean we’ve been robbed?

Martha: It’s Ralph, Ralph’s been stealing from us for years.

Henry: Not Ralph! no it can’t be. When we went to sleep the last thing he said was “folks, believe me I listen and I care”.

Martha: Yeah right! So, if he cares so much, how come our son in grade five, who’s no Einstein anyway, is crammed into a classroom with thirty-two other kids and we’re paying higher and higher fees and raising thousands for essentials?

Henry: Hey, you got a point there Martha! Ralph said he was gonna pay off the debt so our kids wouldn’t be shortchanged.

Martha: Yeah and then look what happened to your mother when we had to move her into that nursing home. We were already supplementing her costs and she hadn’t been there a month before fees went up and Ralph says she doesn’t need things like toothpaste and shampoo.

Henry: You know Martha I’d been forgetting how disgusted I was when Ralph went down there into a men’s shelter and started calling homeless men down because they didn’t have jobs.

Martha: What’s that got to do with your mother Henry?

Henry: Martha, that shows me how phony Ralph's pretense of being one of us really is, that’s what it’s got to do with my mother.

Martha: But I thought you liked Ralph!

Henry: Ten years ago I trusted Ralph. Remember how we let him use us for an example of what ordinary Albertans wanted the government to do.

Martha: Yes, come to think of it, I thought that was a gimmick even then. Ralph made us look like all we really cared about was making and saving money. Didn’t seem to care we have families and live in communities. I remember thinking that Ralph already thought he was something like God and knew exactly what mattered to us most.

Henry: Right! and now I’ve seen him operating for ten years I really resent how he still thinks he knows better than we do what our values are.

Martha: You mean like we’re facing into the future with far less security than we had when Ralph took over and we are paying far more for it.

Henry: You sure got that right! I’m sick and tired of being treated as if I don’t know what’s going on. Ralph said he was going to be more open and upfront with us. In fact, he and his boys are still constantly making up schemes in the back room and pretending we’ve told them what to do.

Martha: When we voted for Ralph did we vote for hospital emergency wards jammed up for hours and sometimes days at a time? Did we vote for poor people to be treated like scum? Did we tell him to treat teachers and nurses like they were scabs on society while his government pockets billions in surplus?

Henry: Martha there’s no way I would vote again for the market place mess Ralph has foisted on us. It puts our car insurance and power bills into the hands of money-driven outfits that manipulate the market like a puppet on strings. Then Ralph goes round the world boasting about having the lowest taxes in the country.

Martha: You know Henry all the time we were sleeping I thought we were living in a kind of paradise here in Alberta. You know the Alberta advantage? Ha! That paradise exists only in Ralph's imagination - he calls it Ralph's World. Now that I’m awake I realize we’ve really been robbed of respect for everyone who cares about people more than money. Ralph’s World is really a bad dream and the people of Alberta haven’t realized it’s only going to get worse.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

It Isn't Just a Cup of Coffee Anymore 

It has been widely reported that Tory MLA's have been attending Wednesday night socials with various groups that compete for their attention. It doesn't seem to have raised too much fuss with the public. However, this is precisely the kind of thing we should be concerned most about.

There is an inherent conflict of interest when people in positions of power are allowed to receive payment of goods or services, even if they have done nothing for the person who gives them the freebie. What we are talking about isn't usually money or a huge gift. If it was, we would be getting into clearly defined ethical issues. In other words, there are rules against these things. What we are talking about is food, alcohol, and other things that we commonly associate with hosting. The government would have us believe that because these are not behaviours that are on "the list" that this makes things so much better, but it doesn't; and you can't tell me that because all associations are doing this that it levels the playing field, as not all groups are doing it. The simple, yet somehow missed point is that when any person is treated very well with food and drink they may somehow feel obligated to reciprocate with a favour in the future. This becomes improper when it involves someone who holds public power. There is no question that this can interfere with that government member's balanced decision making ability, (Those people treated me so well, and now I have to decide against them) and more importantly, puts the question into the public mind: Does this decision maker make decisions based on who has access to him? This leads to distrust and cynicism about all decision makers at a time when we need to trust them the most.

No one is saying that a government leader can't have a free cup of coffee, a bite to eat when hungry, or even be thanked with a small token of appreciation by a group that receives a visit. And leaders should be meeting regularly with a myriad of different groups. But many of our provincial Tories are making a habit of eating and drinking every Wednesday night they can schedule. It makes me wonder if these same decision makers are scheduled to go down to the inner city for a meal from the food bank every Thursday night. I am sure the people down there would have no problem scheduling it...and somehow it wouldn't feel to me like it was a conflict of interest. Funny how that is.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Public Insurance Makes Sense say Alberta Liberals and NDP 

Both of the opposition parties have come out in favour of a public insurance plan to give Albertans relief from the huge increase in auto Insurance costs this year. And is it any wonder? Just look at the Alberta rates as provides by Stats Canada. Alberta sports a 50.1% increase, by far the highest in Canada. Note also the comparisons between jurisdictions which have public insurance schemes vs. those with private schemes. Looks like a pretty good case for public insurance.

The Tories would also do well to abandon their right-wing ideology for a change and implement a public insurance plan that benefits the consumers instead of the insurance companies. The Automobile Insurance Reform Implementation Team led by Tory MLA Rob Renner is suggesting a $4000 cap for soft tissue injuries will reduce rates but the cost will be borne by the unfortunate consumers who happens to suffer soft tissue injuries. The insurance companies lower take on premiums collected will be about equally offset by their reduced payout. Their profits will stay the same. Have a look at who is on this team and see if you can figure out why their recommendations don't impact insurance companies profits.

Have a look at this in-depth article done by the CBC called Insurance: rising rates and risks.
Then go have a look at the Alberta Liberals Public Insurance Proposal and the NDP Plan. The Public Insurance Plan approach just makes common sense.

Stan's Got A Plan 

Those of you who are quick to chastise Stan Woloshyn, our Minister of Seniors and Homeless, had better think again. Stan’s got a plan. He’s going to combine the Long Term Care facilities used by our seniors with the Homeless Shelters saving the over-burdened Albertan taxpayer a substantial amount of money. He has already boosted the rates on the long term care facilities by 40% and has plans to charge the homeless for their overnight soirees. My goodness, he’s almost got a profit centre on his hands. No wonder his cabinet colleagues call him “Stan the Man”.

Think of the synergies and cost savings this will bring. Seniors will be able to sleep on comfy mats instead of those bed things. Much better for their posture. And the homeless can be trained to give out medications and perform other duties that are currently undertaken by overpaid nurses. How hard can it be to give out a pill or two. For their part, the seniors can instruct the homeless in their clearly lacking life skills by saying things like “Why don’t you get a job”, “Your mother would be ashamed of you”, “I’m sick and tired of you freeloaders” and other similar encouragements. The homeless will be back on the street in no time.

This government wastes $15.7 million dollars a year on support for homeless shelters alone. This works out to almost one and a half cents a day out of the pockets of every hard-working Albertan. This extravagance has got to stop and Stan Woloshyn is just the man to stop it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Homeless in heartless Alberta 

Catherine Ford fearlessly confronts the hollow promises of the Klein government in her article "Homeless in heartless Alberta" . Catherine draws a parallel to the holier than thou, me first attitude of Jamestown colonists and our current Alberta government's attempt to apply a Darwinian version of their preferred business model i.e.. survival of the fittest to the problems of the poor and disenfranchised.

Two of Premier Klein's often repeated pearls of wisdom are the provision of a hand up rather than a handout as well as his professed preference to not throw money at a problem. If the premier actually practised what he preached the problem of poverty in resource rich Alberta would be addressed.

The political reality of our provincial government through its policies of the lowest minimum wage, inadequate funding for AISH recipients, cutting back on social assistance payments for those attempting self-improvement through educational upgrading, and lack of affordable accommodation for the working poor serve to hold down rather than help up those in need. Premier Klein has no reluctance to throw money at his perceived pet project problems including sixty four million dollars to racetracks, one hundred and ten million dollars to spruce up vlts,and the forgiving or failure to recently collect four hundred and ten million dollars in due petroleum royalties. Premier Klein revealed his preference to throw money literally rather than deal with the underlying problems when he admonished a man who actually had a job but was forced to sleep on the floor of a homeless shelter in Edmonton.

Casting coins or throwing stones is an easy method of targeting a problem but as long as people are placed on the liability side of the ledger rather than viewed as an investment Alberta's two fastest growth industries will continue to be shelters and food banks.

Harry B. Chase

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Strong Albertan Majority Resents Homeless - Gimme a Break John 

Edmonton Journal Story - Advocate denounces shelter fees: "John Carpay, Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, praised Woloshyn for trying to introduce accountability into the shelter system.
'People have to learn that things in life are not free,' he said.
The government faces a difficult challenge balancing compassion and responsibility, he said. But across Alberta, a strong silent majority resents the vocal minorities who want to spend the majority's money on social programs, Carpay said."

Our Tory Government that John is so proud of spends $15.7 million a year supporting the homeless in this Province. This works out to $5 for every Albertan/year or a little over one cent a day each. The government also spends $33 million a year subsidizing the Horse Racing industry. Much of this $33 million goes into increasing the prize purses that horse owners race for.

John Carpay, along with the mean-spirited Ministers of the Tory Government are true practitioners of the right-wing creed that the only way to motivate the poor is to give them less money and the only way to motivate the rich is to give them more.

The majority of Albertan’s are generous, helping people. Many of them donate money out of their own pocket and countless hours of volunteer time helping the less fortunate in this Province. I doubt they begrudge giving a cent or two a day from their taxes to help the homeless.

Mr. Carpay has the same annoying habit as Premier Klein. They both make statements about how Albertans feel about things instead of just saying how they personally feel. Perhaps they think this shows leadership. It doesn’t. It shows arrogance and it makes my blood boil. We do not need our politicians telling us how to think.

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