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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

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Question Period becoming PC Playroom 

Last Monday, I attended the opening question period of the new session of the Legislature, and I can honestly say that I am extremely disappointed at the lack of respect that the Klein Government has for this democratic institution.

Not only is Klein leaving after the first day of the session to jaunt around London, but he also believes that he should not have to answer “stupid questions” from the Opposition concerning hard hitting issues such as education funding, deregulation, and car insurance.

Question Period, with all of the hooting, hollering, barking, and laughing coming from Tory MLA’s, makes the Legislature look more like the PC playroom. All they need now are a couple of big screen TV’s, and some air hockey and foosball tables. They could lie back in their leather recliners and crack open a few bruskies, replace the Pages with Waitresses from Hooters, and there they go.

And since there is “no crisis in education” as Klein so articulately stated, they will have no problem funding this truly Toryesque venture.

It’s time to bring respect back into Alberta’s Legislature. It’s time for a change.

Windyd

Thursday, November 20, 2003

It's not as simple as that 

Premier Klein is quoted in Thursday’s Edmonton Journal as saying, “We don’t tell the feds how to run the Canadian army, right? We don’t tell them how to administer the Criminal Code. We don’t tell them how to run the RCMP. We don’t tell them how to run the CBC. They shouldn’t be telling us how to run our health care system. That is our constitutional responsibility and authority. It is as simple as that.”

If memory serves, the premier has lots to say about how the federal government should operate. He has been quite clear about what Canada’s relationship should be with the United States, he has said that our country should not be part of the Kyoto protocol, and has travelled to Washington D.C. to discuss the mad cow crisis with the vice president. No one is suggesting he shouldn’t have his say, but the last time I checked, each of these fell under federal jurisdiction.

The truth is that federal and provincial responsibilities often overlap. Both levels of government need to work in cooperation to achieve results. It seems, with the creation of the National Health Council, that each of the provinces and territories have made a commitment to work together with the federal government…that is, without Alberta's involvement. It is nearly unprecedented cooperation by all parties, so why is Alberta not joining in? It makes me wonder if we are really being that hard done by, or if our premier is just disappointed that he doesn’t have control over the process. After all, Canada isn’t Ralph’s World!


Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Auto Insurance Problem - Solved 

From Hansard in the Alberta Legislature November 18, 2003 our Premier spoke in response to a question from Opposition Leader Ken Nichol:

Mr. Klein: Mr. Speaker, I don't know how old the hon. leader is. I'm 61
years of age. I suspect that he's about 59 or 58, and I also believe
that he's had a good driving record. I would say that he's paying
about the same rate as I'm paying, which by the way is about the
same rate as I'd be paying in Saskatchewan or Manitoba or British
Columbia, about the same rate. I pay about $600 or $700 a year in
car insurance; that's PL and PD and collision combined.


I think if we all just dealt with the Premier's insurance agent the whole thing would be solved. I'm a couple of years older than the Premier but that shouldn't matter. No accidents, no impaireds, no tickets plus I drive a pretty basic six year old family sedan. Sort of like the Premier I guess. So if I can get his rates, I'd save myself a few hundred dollars a year and I won't complain anymore about insurance rates.

So, I have e-mailed Premier Klein (see below) asking how I can contact his agent. When the Premier replies, I will contact his agent for a quote which I will pass on to you all here at Ralph's World. Then those of you with a good driving record like Ralph and I can get a good deal from his agent (a Premier deal you might say). This will go a long way to alleviating the Insurance Crisis in Alberta.

Here's my e-mail to the Premier.

Dear Premier Klein

Would you please pass on the name and contact information of your auto insurance agent that provides you with PL and PD and collision combined for $600 or $700 a year. I'm assuming you don't drive an old beater but if you could let me know what kind of car this was for and what your PL and PD coverage is I would appreciate it. I think most of this Province's insurance woes could be solved just by dealing with your insurance agent.

I look forward to your reply.

Yours truly

John Slow

PS My Insurance renewal is due in mid December so a timely response would be very much appreciated.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Klein to miss most of fall session 

November 19/03 - CBC Broadcast Edmonton AM;
Ralph Klein Speaking:
“Their (the opposition’s) whole performance depends on whether they can grill me and try to embarrass me and ask me stupid questions to which I’m expected to give intelligent answers....”

Well, let's hears some of those intelligent answers.

December 1/1999 (Quoting from Hansard)
Stupid question: “Why won’t the Premier consider overwhelming evidence that his privatization scheme may lead to increased health care costs for the citizens of Alberta?

Intelligent answer?:- “Mr. Speaker, as I said before, at the risk of getting into the game of I’ll show you your study; you show me my study, there are studies going back and forth. There is a lot of evidence both ways. We have the policy statement out there for public discussion . We want to make sure before we introduce legislation that it’s absolutely right.

Stupid question:- “According to the Centre for Health Program Studies at Harvard Medical School ..... administration costs in the Private US system are four times what they are in Canada under the public system....my question is: how much does the Premier plan to see administration costs go up under the scheme that he wants to introduce for privatization here in Alberta? Where’s his study?

Intelligent Answer?:- “Mr. Speaker, obviously I’m not getting through to the opposition. They can’t understand. But, you know, our Minister of Health and Wellness used to be a school teacher, and perhaps he can stand up and explain the policy, perhaps in grade 5 language. I’ll defer to the Honourable Minister.” (Alberta Hansard)

Intelligent answers ? I think not.

Submitted by Sandy

Interview or Infomercial 

If the answers provided by Ty Lund, Infrastructure Minister, to the Calgary Herald's questions regarding P3s in a recent article, P3s just a tool, are an example of the type of accountability and transparency promised by Premier Klein, then we, the Alberta taxpayers, who will be paying for the thirty year leases should be very concerned. Would you lease a car or rent a home without being privy to the details of the lease agreement? Ty Lund makes the unsubstantiated claim that 'the payments over a 30-year period are less than half of the amount that Alberta Infrastructure would have provided to develop a similar number of beds in the traditional way of developing and funding projects'. However Lund provides no actual dollar figures to back up his fantastic, half price claim. Because the government can claim that the specific details, the fine print, of each of its numerous proposed P3 contracts is confidential, Albertans will be on the hook for an undetermined amount of money over a period of thirty years without knowing either the amount of principle or interest they have to pay.

Before you consider unequivocally signing on the shifting bottom line of P3 proposals, consider some of the other promises the Klein government has made. Such as The only way taxes are going in Alberta is down. or Deregulation will lead to lower electricity costs because of competition in the market place. Then there's Public education is adequately funded. and the currently relevant No caps will be placed on highly competitive private insurance claims.

As politicians, particularly after they have left office, are not held fiscally liable for the promises they have made, it is you and I the taxpayer who have to foot the bill for their folly.

Harry B. Chase

Welcome to Alberta Paul 

Toronto Star Editorial: Health fight eternal "Here we go again. Less than 24 hours after media reports said Canada's premiers had agreed finally to keep their word and set up a National Health Council, Ralph Klein was backtracking".

Mr. Martin has just been introduced to the wild and wonderous world of Alberta politics.

Listen carefully Paul. Ralph's a bit testy these days. His power deregulation policy, while providing large profits for the companies involved, is saddling the voters with huge power bill increases. He just announced a guaranteed floor on insurance company profits. He called it a price freeze but he froze them after the insurance companies jacked the rates by over 50% in one year so it locks in their $600 million profit they made last year. These and other issues have the faithful wondering about their caring premier.

So he has pulled out his tried and trusted weapon when things get a little rocky. You beat up on someone from out of Province and preferrably in the Federal Government. This fires up the talkshow hosts who lead the citizens in a Province-wide gnashing-of-teeth and wringing-of-hands with crys of "No More NEP", "We want our own cops", "No more transfer payments to those Eastern lay-abouts" etc. Then he goes a way for a few days - England in this case - and waits for the citizens to settle down. And they always do.

You just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time Paul. So when Ralph denies that he had reached a deal with you on the Health Council when you thought you had one, it doesn't mean you misunderstood. Ralph just needed a patsy to dump on and you were it.

If you really want to understand Mr. Klein, just look where he spends our taxpayer money. Here's a sample.

Support for Alberta Horse Racing - $33 million/yr
Support for the homeless in Alberta - $15 million/yr
Support for Canadawide Health Council - $2 million/yr max
Bamboozling the Alberta voters - priceless

Have fun in the West Paul.

Monday, November 10, 2003

A CRYING SHAME 

Did the S.U.N. go down Nov. 10/03?

No identifiable portion of Albert citizens has been more put down and demeaned by the Klein government than “Seniors.” I’m sure the vast majority of them, like myself, have the values and lessons of the Great Depression and the Second World War imprinted like a brand on their very souls. Yet we who have more to gain by standing up together and shouting “we’re fed up and aren’t going to take in anymore” have, until very recently, let ourselves be talked down to and bullied into silence.

As one of you I couldn’t have been more encouraged and hopeful the morning it was reported that so many of us got together at the Lion’s (what better symbol of strength) Centre and laid our discontent on the line. I wasn’t there but my first thought was “well at last we old duffers are getting up off our political butts and doing something constructive.”

Today, one day before Remembrance Day, I couldn’t be more saddened, discouraged and disappointed in any group of citizens. Three weeks ago I wasn’t there because I didn’t know about the meeting. Today I wasn’t there because I have no desire to join a bunch of silly old duffers who are more interested in playing politics with each other than they are in making their common needs known to the most uncaring politicized outfit ever to hold power in the Province of Alberta.

Fellow Seniors don’t you recall the essence of our survival during the Great Depression? It wasn’t the rugged self-centered stand-alone stupid independence that Ralph Klein talks about but has no real understanding of. He wasn’t there. No we stood together and confronted the issues of the day and tossed out governments that had lost touch with us.

And what about the Wars that we all believed were to make the world safe for Democracy? Thousands of our families were wounded and bled to death for that chance to be counted as citizens! Are we now more ready to fight each other than the people in government who undercut and destroy the very Democracy we came out of those wars determined to cherish and fight for at home after the shooting ceased?

I’ve never felt more sadness for the people of Alberta than today as I see and hear of fellow citizens of my age attacking each other rather than standing together in the cause of decency and fair play. And somehow the sorrow is even deeper when it reflects on those who might be expected to have the wisdom of age.

Submitted by Sandy

Friday, November 07, 2003

Welcome to the Seniors Action and Liaison Team - SALT 

SALT is a self-financed group of Edmonton seniors concerned with social justice issues in Alberta and Canada. Click on their link on the right under Seniors to find out more about them and to read their position papers.

A cheery Alberta welcome to all SALT members.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

MARTHA AND HENRY GET REAL 

When preparing a platform from which to launch Ralph Klein into orbit as Premier of Alberta skilled advertising, sales and marketing professionals dreamed up an imaginary couple they called Martha and Henry. They were injected into the thinking processes of groups made up mainly of people representing the financial institutions, the private schoolers, the corporate interests and the big businesses of the Province. The function of Henry and Martha was to create the illusion that those so-called advisory sessions were listening to “ordinary Albertans” and caring about their future. The thoughts and values expressed by Martha and Henry at that time were exactly what these consultants and facilitators were told to have them say. Ralph Klein loved this couple, and still does, because from then on he could claim that he was only doing what normal Albertans wanted him to do.

Ten years ago they were a figment of Ralph’s imagination. Today let’s listen in as Henry and Martha start using their own brains to distinguish between truth and lies in Ralph’s World:-

-Henry: Martha we gotta talk
-Martha: What’s up? something wrong?
-Henry: Yer darn tootin’ something’s wrong. I’m fed up being treated like I haven’t a brain in my head
-Martha: Whoa, wait a minute, last time you started thinking for yourself Ralph shut you up real good by reminding you that he made you and he’s the one who tells you what to think. Told you to keep on saying we both think he’s on the right track
-Henry: It’s your fault for starting me thinking. After we talked last time I got to thinking about what you said about our future being far less secure now than it was when Ralph took over
-Martha: You mean, you’ve been seeing how necessities like car insurance and gas and electricity prices are climbing out of control
-Henry: Yeah, power and gas prices are being yanked up and down, mostly up, by outfits that all they got to do is cry and they get another raise. But I’ve been thinking about something far more serious
-Martha: But Ralph told us there’s nothing more important than money! Remember when Ralph’s PR guys created us we were programmed to talk as if all we cared about was saving money so he could rescue us from that terrible deficit
-Henry: Yeah, I know! Ralph had us imagining that we were on a raft floating out of control on a river of debt and unless he swooped down from his political helicopter and pulled us all to safety we were going to fall over Niagara Falls
-Martha: You gotta admit he had us scared
-Henry: Yeah but ten years later the only thing I’ve gotta admit is that we fell for a big fat monstrous pack of lies
-Martha: Are you saying there wasn’t a deficit?
-Henry: Oh the government owed a lot of money alright. They’d been talked into borrowing money to finance some harebrained, money-losing schemes and Ralph was one of them. But they were lying through their teeth when they told us that the cost of education and health care, seniors and welfare benefits were the cause of the trouble
-Martha: But Ralph said...
-Henry: I know what Ralph said and I know what he’s still saying. Ralph himself demonstrates the most blatant use of unethical sales techniques ever seen in this Province.
-Martha: Watch it Henry you are coming close to saying that Ralph Klein lies to get himself elected and then keeps telling lies to convince people he knows what he’s doing
-Henry: Let me put it this way; say you go to the showroom of a car dealer and the salesman tells you he has studies to prove that you never need to change the oil in these newer cars
-Martha: I’m afraid I’d probably believe him if I liked one of the cars and thought it would save me money and a lot of bother because I’ve nothing else to go on
-Henry: Exactly! But what the salesman doesn’t tell you is that other findings from actual research by qualified scientists found that drivers who tried to save money on oil paid out far more on repairs and replacement costs down the way
-Martha: So what are you getting at Henry?
-Henry: Just this Martha; Ralph Klein and his agents have claimed over and over again that for-profit free enterprisers can run everything cheaper and better than a responsible government can.
-Martha: You mean like they think big construction outfits can save us money by building highways and hospitals and even schools and then renting them back to us so we can guarantee them a profit by paying more taxes ?
-Henry: Well those are recent claims being made without a shred of evidence that research has been done to prove or even indicate that privatizing any public service will save money or benefit the public.
- Martha: But Ralph’s disciples have never needed honest research to try selling people on what they want to do. Remember way back in 1994 when one of his buddies claimed to have tons of research proving he could cut out school kindergartens without hurting our son who was five years old that year?
-Henry: Yeah how could I forget? That was Halvar what’s his name and the guy they got in that department now is even worse. The way he twists and bends information he deserves the old saying “Figures don’t lie but liars figure”
-Martha: But isn’t that dangerous to actually call these men liars, aren’t they just doing what politicians do to make themselves look good
-Henry: Well what would you say that car salesman was doing when he told you you would never need to change the oil in your new car
-Martha: I’d say he was so set on selling me a car that he’d say anything to make a sale. But surely Ralph wouldn’t do that or would he?
-Henry: As part of getting real instead of phony like Ralph wants me to be I checked back in Hansard the other day
-Martha: Catch me quick before I fall off my stool. Don’t tell me you actually read what Ralph says when he gets into the Legislature
-Henry: You bet your life I do! I’m not half as dumb as Ralph makes me out to be and neither are you
-Martha: So what did you find out?
- Henry: Well remember back when Ralph’s team was trying to start selling the health care system to some of his old business-doctor buddies down in Calgary so they could run people in and out for quick operations and maybe have them stay over night.
-Martha: How could I forget it? And they’re still pushing that aren’t they?
-Henry: Well one afternoon, December 1 1999 to be exact, an opposition member asked Ralph “Where is your study?” She meant a study that proved for-profit hospitals actually saved money for the citizens.
-Martha: So what did Ralph say?
-Henry: Actually he said a lot of demeaning stuff like implying she was too dumb to understand so he would ask the Minister of Health and Welfare, who used to be a teacher, to explain to her in grade five language.
- Martha: But he never answered her question and he never showed her the studies that he was talking about?
- Henry: It was just like it was with kindergarten: the truth, almost certainly, was that there were no studies and even if there were they wouldn’t prove what he was trying to sell
-Martha: You know something just popped into my brain! Ralph and his buddies are so much like that car salesman it really scares me
-Henry: Yeah I know, they seem to think we’re so incapable of thinking for ourselves that all they have to do is pretend they have a study somewhere proving that government can abandon responsibility for education and health and other human services to blind market forces
-Martha: Guess you see now why I’m more fearful of the future than when Ralph got himself elevated so high he thinks he’s invented his own world
-Henry: Our province is really like a car that’s been driven hard without enough oil. Realistically it’s going to cost us far more up ahead than Ralph has ever saved
-Martha: Now I think that Ralph’s world is as much a figment of his imagination as we once were. Boy I’m sure glad we woke up, started thinking and are beginning to get real.

By Sandy November 6/03

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Questions for Mr. Rob Renner MLA re Auto Insurance 

Dear Mr. Renner:

I am trying to understand the current automobile insurance situation which you are intimately involved with. While searching the government website related to this I came across a section entitled "How vehicle insurance rates are set in Alberta?" This article talked about the role of the Alberta Insurance Board (AIB) in approving compulsory automobile insurance rates in Alberta. The part that caught my eye was the statement "Premium levels are supposed to cover the cost of expected future claims. There is no component to recover past losses."

I went to the AIB website but as you can see, it is a little light on information and provides no e-mail address for contact. This is why I am hoping you will be able to answer my questions where are:

1. Automobile insurance premiums increased 50.1% from April 2002 to April 2003 in Alberta according to Statistics Canada. As this increase is expected to cover future claims and not to recover past losses, could you please tell me what documentation the insurance companies provided which projected that claims costs would rise 50.1% in the upcoming year.

2. Given that insurance company profits rose to $644 million dollars this year, up from $110 million last year, do you think there is any possibility that the AIB has confused the words "expected future claims" with the words "expected future profits".

3. As the AIB website does not indicate who sits on the Alberta Insurance Board, could you please tell me who does, what their affiliation is to the insurance industry, consumer agencies, or other groups and finally, how I might get in touch with these people to further understand their function.

Thank you in advance for considering my request.

Yours truly

John Slow

PS to Ralphsworld readers. I will post Mr. Renner's reply when I receive it.

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