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

Wednesday, March 31, 2004


An astute reader of Ralph's World spotted this insightful exchange in the legislature on March 29th. It may explain some of the strange fiscal policies put forth by our Tory government.

From Hansard March 29, 2004

Mr. MacDonald: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My first question is again to the hon. Premier. Given that 1 in 5 children in the city of Edmonton grow up in poverty, when will this government cut its excessive travel and communications budget, take the $50 million in savings and reinvest it in those children?

Mr. Klein: Mr. Speaker, our Minister of Children’s Services is here. I don’t know if that figure, 1 in 5, is in fact true. Edmonton is approximately 1 million people, give or take. What he’s saying is that 200,000 children are living in poverty. That is absolutely astounding. That is unbelievable. I think that the hon. member doth exaggerate a lot, a tremendous amount. That is unbelievable in this day and age in this city in particular. I travel this city. I have never seen 200,000 impoverished kids. Never. Never. Never. That reminds me of a statement that was made by, well, an interim leader. I think there were about nine leaders of the Liberal Party across the way including the one we have right now. One of the Liberal leaders made this outrageous statement, and she was a respected . . . [interjection] No, no. She was well respected, but she talked about all of these people like every one was living in a dumpster. This hon. member is making the same kind of statement, a grossly, severely, inaccurately exaggerated statement. Relative to the real situation I’ll have the hon. minister respond.

Perhaps it's time Edmonton changed their motto from "City of Champions" to "City of Children"

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Freddie's Diary - Article 10 

Canada's old age pension system is a huge moneymaker for the federal and provincial governments, argues a new report commissioned by the Canadian Association of Retired Persons. (CARP). This flies in the face of government claims that the system must be overhauled to remain solvent and to avoid stiff tax increases in the future.

Walter Kelm, former director of policy development, prepared the report for the Treasury Board of Canada. "Ottawa has been warning us about the impending crisis in the publicly financed and tax assisted retirement income system." Kelm says. "We are told that immediate action must be taken to curtail the Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement, otherwise our children and grandchildren will inherit the heavy financial burden of sustaining the public system. But his report argues that Ottawa's position considers only the costs of the system and fails to look at the tax revenues it generates for governments. It says the system not only brings in enough cash to pay its way but actually earns a profit for Ottawa and the provincial governments.

Kelm calculates that for every $1 contributed in RRSPs, individuals get back an average of $2.94 while governments recovers more than seven times that much - $22.14. A finance Department official who spoke only on the condition that she not be identified says the department "doesn't agree with Carp's analysis that the retirement system generates a profit for the government." In fact Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement account for more than 20% of federal program spending and is the largest federal program at a cost of $22 billion a year.

"On top of that tax assistance the government provides to savings and pension plans and RRSPs generates a net cost for government and a net benefit for Canadians." But the chairperson of the Calgary Chapter of CARP isn't persuaded the government's story is correct. He doesn't like anything about the government's plan to replace the present pension system.

"They are trying to say it's a fair redistribution of wealth, taking from wealthy seniors and giving to the lower income seniors. I could buy into that if it were true, but it's not the case," says John McIntosh. "It actually hurts the poorest more than the wealthy. It's a tax grab. They are taking from the middle income people and giving very little back to the low income people." McIntosh, 66, is a retired Syncrude Canada mining engineer who helped start the Calgary CARP chapter in 1995.

Under the current pension system, people over 65 receive about $4 800 a year in Old Age Security payments. Low-income seniors collect the Guaranteed Income Supplement that brings their income to about $10 600 for individuals and $17 000 for couples. In addition, the Canada Pension Plan pays a maximum of about $8 800 a year to people who have contributed. The average CPP payment is about $6 000.

The March 1996 federal budget proposed replacing OAS and GIS with a Seniors Benefit in 2001. The Seniors Benefit would provide a tax-free payment of $11 420 (in 2001 dollars) for single people or $18 440 for couples. These payments would be reduced by 20% for every dollar of income from all other sources, including company pensions, the CPP and earnings and investments of every kind.

The looming changes will create "a tax on prudence" because it will penalize those who save, says Michael Wise, the author of Canadian Asset Allocation Strategies and a Calgary financial planner with Portfolio Strategies Corp. Wise says couples with combined retirement incomes of less than $30 000 or more than $78 000 aren't going to be hurt, but everyone else will suffer. Kelm's report for CARP argues that Ottawa ignores revenues from specific taxes created to pay for the pension system.

When the OAS system was launched in 1952, income taxes, sales taxes and corporate taxes were introduced to pay for it. But in 1972 and 1975 new legislation bunched these taxes into the basic tax structure, making the specific taxes hidden items that are no longer shown separately in government accounts. This means that precise amount of revenue collected to support the pension system cannot be determined, but Kelm estimates the number of $13 billion for 2001.

"That New Bunching Legislation took away the collective knowledge that the OAS was a forced retirement plan for all contributing people. Therefore, the government feels it now has the right to CLAWBACK our own personal savings. This is the same as CLAWING money from our savings accounts."RMB

The government also ignores tax profits realized from private savings plans. It compares tax revenue it is losing on current RRSP contributions and Company pension plans with taxes now being collected on contributions made to these plans as long as 50 years ago. If taxes lost on current contributions were compared with taxes to be collected on them in the future (as Canada's auditor general has said they should be), by 2001 it would produce an $18 Billion profit for Ottawa.

So Kelm calculates Ottawa will collect $31 billion in pension tax revenue by 2001. The government estimates pension payments and administration will cost $26 billion, leaving a net surplus of $5 billion. And Kelm says the surplus will grow even bigger after 2001 as taxes increase faster than costs. CARP has made detailed suggestions for scrapping the planned Seniors' Benefit and improving the current system. And, while the government remains coy about its intentions CARP and others continue to press for changes. There has been enough of an uproar that I expect the 20% rule to be relaxed and implementation to be delayed. Wise says.

This article is an example of how all levels of governments openly and fraudulently take money from innocent citizens. We allow them to get away with it because they have convinced us that we are guilty of greed, and that the costs for governments goes up very fast but the citizen's costs stay the same? Then they convince us that the cost of any benefit is unsustainable. Examples: Health Care needs reform because it is unsustainable, Insurance rates need to be raised by 80%, Long term care facility rates must go up by 40/48%, we must deregulate the gas and electricity. We need to remember these things at the next election. Do we want a government in power that thinks everyone who might think differently than they has no brains except in their butt.


Ole Bill sees

Hansard March 25/04 (Day after budget)

Peoples Rep. Blakeman: “... one seniors group SALT is ‘profoundly disappointed about what is and what is not contained in the 2004 Alberta Budget.’ Why, in its budget, did this government forget about seniors?”

Premiers Agent Nelson: “.... I take great exception to that. We clearly did not forget about seniors. They are very, very important people in our province. I personally find it totally insulting that the honorable member would think that. We had an increase in our support for seniors ..... (hands off to Premier's Party Agent Woloshyn)

Premier’s Agent Woloshyn: “.... ... the budget for seniors this year, I find is very generous. It may not meet what a lot of folks wold like it to meet. I’m an advocate for seniors and I would advocate for more in the budget if I could, but, as has been pointed out, we want to be sustainable.... we put a full ten million going into this year’s budget that will sustain our seniors benefits program, the cash pay outs.... Our thresholds for premium payments are very generous in that individual seniors who earn less than $27,000 pay no premiums. Couples who are under $44,000 pay no premiums.... it has to be done in a fashion that can be sustained.

Peoples Rep. Blakeman: “... why didn’t this budget restore any of the benefit programs seniors have lost, such as the universal optical and dental programs?”

Premier’s Agent Nelson: “... this budget saw a $21 million increase in support for seniors, and I think that, quite frankly, what I understand seniors across Canada find Alberta one of the best places to retire because of the benefit programs that are there in this province.”

Hansard March 24/04 (Budget day)

Peoples Rep. MacDonald: “.... given that no one will ever build an electric train to Fort McMurray because they know it will be too expensive ... how many more businesses and industries will be forced to flee from this province and relocate to other provinces like Manitoba or British Columbia where electricity is much cheaper before this government comes to its senses and unplugs electricity deregulation?

Alberta’s Premier: “... I have never in my life heard such nonsense. We are doing just fine thank you. You know because the Liberals like the old way of doing things and because they are so tuned in to socialistic systems, they can’t expect something that is new, innovative, effective, and it works.”

Peoples Rep. MacDonald: “... since our electricity bills are at an all time high in this province, why is this government continuing with such a destructive economic policy, which is the fostering of electricity deregulation?

Alberta’s Premier: “..... you know this is so typical of the Liberals, they sit there and they listen with their duffs. I’m sure they do because they don’t listen with their ears .... this honorable member should be proud to live in Alberta where we have, thank God, an entrepreneurial spirit, a spirit of free enterprise and where we have the courage to do things differently and do things in an efficient and effective manner. That’s why this province is prosperous today.”

Peoples Rep. Bonner: “... given that the report on P3s ( “Why P3s Don’t Work and what Will” ) states that ‘it is reasonable to expect P3 hospitals to be at least 10% more costly than their public sector equivalents’ why does the Premier believe that P3 hospitals won’t cost Alberta taxpayers more?

Alberta’s Premier: “.... again the honorable member does not understand or refuses to understand the whole concept and process relevant to P3s.

Peoples Rep. Bonner: “... when will this government actually hear the concerns of prominent economists, of relevant organizations and other governments and reject the P3 model for essential public services such as health care?”

Alberta’s Political Premier: “.... P3 projects for essential services and other public services will be rejected if they don’t work. I have seen examples of P3 projects that work in the health care system (interjections) well, I have seen a proposal that works. In m y mind it works. Maybe in his mind it doesn’t work but in the minds of the people involved with the project - and I’m talking about one in the UK - it works.”

Peoples Rep. Macdonald: “...... this government continues to show disrespect and neglect for the poor and unfortunate. After saddling Albertans yesterday with more health taxes, recreational user fees, and educational costs, this government continues to subsidize the horse racing industry, while here in Edmonton one in five children lives in poverty. Given that this government cares more about horses than they do about the homeless, why did the minister allow support for the homeless to go down by almost one million dollars while the horse racing industry sees an amount of $45 million set aside for their use?”

Premier’s Party Agent Woloshyn: “.... well, I don’t quite follow where the member is going, but I will say this much. In Edmonton and in Calgary we provided sufficient spaces so that nobody was left out in the cold. We will continue to work with the operators to insure that the unfortunate people of this province are looked after, whether they be homeless, whether they be seniors or anyone else. that Mr. Speaker is about all I can say to this mundane question.”

Don’t it just make citizens of senior years feel like heading for the nearest vomitorium when they hear how very important they are and then discover that there’s more money set aside in the budget for feeding oats to racehorses and less for feeding oatmeal to citizens squeezed between rapidly rising heat, light and taxation costs and dwindling government support for maintaining eyes, teeth and health?

Probably doesn’t help to hear that a question presented by those who speak for seniors is called “mundane” either does it?

Just wonderin’ - Bill Barley, Severely Abnormal Albertan

Monday, March 29, 2004

Has King Ralph met his match? 

This past weekend, Dr. Kevin Taft, the MLA for Edmonton Riverview was elected Leader of the Alberta Liberal Party and the Official Opposition. With the support of 86.1% of Alberta Liberal Members, Taft will do his best to take on King Ralph.

Taft, who was elected to the Legislature in 2001, is a best selling author, an expert in Health Care Economics, and holds a Ph.D. in Business.

Being the Leader of the Official Opposition in Alberta is probably one of the most thankless and toughest jobs in Alberta. As the Official Opposition Leader, Taft will have to take on one of the most popular Premiers in Canada. He will also have to fend off advances by the two member NDP Caucus, led by Dr. Raj Pannu.

Klein has faced-off against a number of Opposition Leaders in his reign and so far has been successful in fending them off.

Good luck to Kevin Taft, he is a smart and articulate man. Perhaps he will be the one to take Ralph to the retirement home for Old Premiers.

Here is a list of Official Opposition Leaders who King Ralph has faced-off against since becoming Premier in 1992.

1992-93 Ray Martin (Alberta NDP)
1993-94 Laurence Decore (Alberta Liberal)
1994 Bettie Hewes (Interim Alberta Liberal Leader)
1994-98 Grant Mitchell (Alberta Liberal)
1998-2001 Nancy MacBeth (Alberta Liberal)
2001-2004 Dr. Ken Nicol (Alberta Liberal)
2004 Dr. Don Massey (Interim Alberta Liberal Leader)
2004 - Dr. Kevin Taft (Alberta Liberal)


Ole Bill Sees
dumping on

Hansard March 24/04: - budget day
Peoples Rep Taft: “... will the Premier tell us why this government is so reluctant to order a fully independent public inquiry?” (Into the Calgary Health Region’s deaths etc.)
Alberta’s Premier: “...that is not true. Quite simply that is not true. There are a number of investigations that can be taken in many cases relative to this very, very unfortunate incident....”

Peoples Rep Taft: “.. How can this m minister (Health and wellness) claim that the Health Quality Council is independent when its members include a former government MLA, a current government MLA and a senior officer with the Calgary region?”
Premier’s Agent Mar: “........ I want to again outline for the honorable member what the purpose of the review is and that is to look at this from the perspective of a system wide basis. ....this is a very important part because we want to learn from these particular circumstances and employ then the best practices for insuring it does not happen again.”

Peoples Rep Taft: ”Given that there have been two near deaths and the lessons weren’t learned, two deaths and the lessons weren’t learned and a number of other inquiries and investigations, will the Premier commit to calling a public inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act into the situation at the Calgary Health Region?”
Alberta’s Premier: “.... I’ve already answered that question. there are many processes available, many of which are being used.... why would you add, at great expense, another stream? Just to satisfy the Opposition? Just to satisfy (Interjections) no, the public will be satisfied, the public will be able to hear, will be able to participate if they have evidence to present at any of these tribunals .....and I notice that the leader, not the leader but the ... (“wanna be” - shout from the Premier’s Party) .. wanna be leader. The real leader is here today.”

Hansard March 25/04 (After budget)

Peoples Rep Taft: (to Finance Minister) “...given that half her health care premium taxes and half those of all MLAs are paid for by the Legislative Assembly would she admit that those MLAs who support the government’s position on health care premiums are following a double standard?”
Premier’s Party Agent Nelson: “ (long preamble) ... now I can say that I’ll get rid of the little slip of paper that says: here’s the invoice for health care premiums. I can hide it in the taxation model like other provinces do. I can play the political game with you, or I can be up front and honest with you and say: the tax is there, and it’s coming through to pay for this system, and it’s $8 billion.”

Peoples Rep Taft: “... given that health care premiums represent only a tiny portion of her $120,000 plus salary but a substantial portion of the salaries of ordinary workers, will she admit that these are regressive and unfair taxes?”
Premier's Party Agent Nelson: (talks about how fortunate we are to have a public health system) “.... Our objective through the whole process - and I’m not going to play this little game with the member opposite - is: how do we renew and sustain the health system so that it’s there for the long term when we need access to the system? ....the cost this year is a little alarming because what happened this year was that for every additional dollar increase in spending in this budget 50 cents of that went into the health care system. That’s not sustainable. That has to change.”

Peoples Rep. Taft: “... why has the minister chosen to hide a billion dollars from Albertans by lowballing natural gas revenues instead of giving Albertans a tax break by eliminating the regressive health care premium tax?”
Premier's Party Agent Nelson: “... I’m beginning to think that the honorable member opposite is running out of things to complain about. We live in a very successful province economically. Quite frankly, if he would review the fiscal structures that we operate under, he would be well aware of the fact that under our fiscal framework we have set some limits on how much of the resource revenue we can actually spend on programs that we deliver to Albertans. And that would be $4 billion.”

Wondering? If a million or more of the people of this Province suddenly realized that it is the Opposition and not the Premier’s Party who have the courage to stand up for the right to share in rich resources now being funneled into godless and humanly heartless corporate outfits, what would happen?

What would happen if the Opposition ever broke through the massive attack system the Premier’s party has built up to defend against anyone in their party finding out that not everyone in this rich province is being paid six figure salaries by the people who pay the taxes?

Just wonderin’ - Bill Barley, Severely Abnormal Albertan

Sunday, March 28, 2004

The Only Real Issue in Healthcare is Who Pays  

Alberta Treasurer Pat Nelson in her budget speech last Wednesday indicated that spending on healthcare in the province has doubled in the last ten years and that this increase is not sustainable. While true, she misleads. Click here for details of the deception. First, ten years ago was right after the Klein Revolution cuts. If I were to cut my 13 year old’s allowance from $20/week to $10/week one month and then announce at my next month’s family budget address that I was doubling his allowance he would be unimpressed. He’s back to square one; he was short $10 last month; and his old man is asking him to be grateful. Second, Ms. Nelson does not factor in the fact that our population has grown substantially in that time. While that’s added cost, the government takes in healthcare premiums and income taxes from these folks to cover that. Finally, we are a wealthy province due to our resource royalties which amount to one third of our government’s budget, a luxury no other province comes close to enjoying. Perhaps we can afford to spend a bit more per person.

It is time to get to the real debate about health care costs. Who pays? The citizens pay of course through their taxes, through premiums, through private health insurance plans, and out of their own pockets. The Tories believe that healthcare premiums and/or private health insurance is the way to go. This would reduce what government has to pay and allow them to reduce taxes. Tax savings, as always, flow disproportionately to those better off. They will happily take their tax savings, subtract their government premiums, private plan premiums and the occasional uncovered procedure costs and still have money left over for a southern vacation when it gets nippy in the winter. The rest of us will sacrifice something else to find the money or go without coverage.

The alternative is to fund healthcare through the tax system. Those better off pay more for the same health care coverage than someone of lesser means. The Tories would have us believe that this is contrary to Albertan's sense of fair play and our independent, pioneer spirit. Others suggest that Albertan's have a strong sense of helping those less fortunate and would not begrudge if taxes rose for everyone to provide a top-notch health care system.

All political parties agree that the health care system should be the most efficient it can be. The debate is only about how to finance it. The Tories are testing the waters with their talk of unsustainable costs and user fees. It’s time to bring this debate out into the open and tackle the real issue.

Who pays?

Thursday, March 25, 2004

SALT Press Release - Budget 2004 

The Edmonton based Seniors Action and Liaison Team(SALT) deplores the repeated efforts by the Alberta Government to claim health care is not sustainable, according to Noel Somerville, Chair of the SALT Communications Committee.

“SALT is profoundly disappointed by what is and is not contained in the 2004 Alberta Budget,” Somerville said, adding that “the Alberta government still adheres to the false premise that health care spending is not sustainable despite huge, un-budgeted, recurring surpluses and the fact that Alberta’s spending on health care has actually decreased over the past 10 years from 5.3% of GDP in 1993/94 to 4.9% of GDP in 2003/04, and from 30% of government revenue in 1993/94 to 27% of revenue in 2003/04.”

Somerville illustrated his point by reference to tables from Canadian Institute for Health Information and the Government of Alberta. Click below to see tables.

Health Care Spending as a Percentage of Provincial GDP
Government Funding as a Proportion of Total Governement Budget

Kevan Rhead, Acting Chair of SALT, pointed out “This false premise was repeated as recently as a week a go with the government’s release of their 20 year strategic plan where they state on Page 10 “Over the past 10 years, per-capita health costs have outpaced inflation and economic growth.” The attached GDP table proves the exact opposite. Health costs have in fact lagged behind inflation and economic growth.”

Further, the SALT representatives deplored the Government’s continuing use of the pretext of un-sustainability to argue for curtailment of services and for greater private sector involvement in the form of private for-profit surgical facilities, public, private partnerships to build hospitals and other public facilities, and private for-profit insurance companies.

Rhead said, “Eliminating the tax-exempt status of the not-for-profit Alberta Blue Cross will benefit no one except the private for-profit insurance industry.”

“Apparently, the government has learned nothing,”
Somerville observed, “from our experience with auto insurance in Alberta that is significantly more expensive than the publicly administered auto insurance plans in the other three western provinces.” He said, “It is incredible that the government wants to abdicate its responsibility to administer an effective health care system and turn it over to the private, for-profit insurance industry. It is prepared to be “un-Canadian” to the point of importing an American style, bureaucratic, multi-payer, private for-profit, insurance-driven health care system into Alberta, even if it means giving up $1.3 billion in annual federal transfer payments.”

“Furthermore,” Rhead added, “we see little sign in the 2004 Alberta Budget that government is prepared to shoulder its responsibilities and make meaningful progress to address the problems related to:

Finally, SALT notes with extreme disappointment the government’s failure to eliminate health care premiums for all Albertans. “Health care premiums are in fact a regressive tax,” Somerville stated. “Their elimination would be a significant benefit both to employers and to individuals, such as seniors, who have to pay these premiums out of their fixed incomes.”

The Seniors Action and Liaison Team (SALT) is a self-financed group of Edmonton seniors concerned with social justice issues in Alberta and Canada.

For further information contact:
Noel Somerville. Chair, SALT Communications
Committee. Phone: (780) 452-1846, or
Kevan Rhead, Acting Chair of SALT. Phone: (780) 435-1121

Wednesday, March 24, 2004


Ole Bill sees:-

Hansard March 16/04

People’s Rep. MacDonald: “... why has the government done nothing to bring down insurance rates for consumers while we see insurance industry profits soar by 775%?”

Alberta’s Premier: “...... it’s not right to say he doesn’t tell the truth. Well, I guess it’s right to say he doesn’t tell the truth. ..... That legislation { his Party’s} focusses on fairness, fairness to the consumer, and it doesn’t focus on individual company profits, but if the member is willing to stand up and say profit is dirty, then let him stand up and say so. Say it. The reason he’s not telling - well, I don’t know the reason he’s not telling - . I know the reason he’s not telling the truth. It’s because he’s a Liberal. That’s the reason.

People’s Rep. MacDonald: (same session) “ ..... why is it that even the insurance industry has very little confidence in this government’s insurance reform package?”

Alberta’s Premier: “..... {very long lecture claiming consultations - not including Opposition MLAs - took place} ... So for this honorable member to say there was no consultation, he is not telling the truth. His nose is growing.”

People’s Rep. MacDonald: “..... given that the cow-calf operators that I had the privilege of meeting with in Vegreville last night demanded to know, ‘Where did the money go?’ why does this government continue to ignore the interests of small farmers?”

Alberta’s Premier:- “..... first of all, how many?, who did they represent?, we paid out to 1,534 feed lot operators totaling $359 million. I don’t know who he was talking to. Who was he talking to? Will the honorable member tell us how many were at that meeting and who they represented? He won’t because he knows they are a special interest group that are not sympathetic or supportive to this government in any way shape or form.”

People’s Rep MacDonald: “Why did this government not ask the meatpackers to open their books?”

Alberta’s Premier: “ ...... this member is questioning their { his chosen investigators} integrity and their ability to conduct an investigation or a review to report to the minister. Mr. Speaker, that is sad. That is sad for this so-called honorable member to pick on public service employees who cannot be in this legislature to defend themselves,”

Hansard March 4/04

People’s Rep. MacDonald: “..... how does Alberta Energy’s own research, which the Premier tabled on Tuesday, and which shows that monthly electricity bills have skyrocketed because of electricity deregulation, fit into the government’s pursuit of excellence?

Alberta’s Premier: ( to loud heckling sounds) “Table your own bill. Table your bill. I want to see how bad it is.”

People’s Rep. MacDonald: “........ why does this government need a $3 million propaganda campaign organized by the Public Affairs Bureau to sell Albertans a defective product that they do not want, electricity deregulation?”

Alberta’s Premier: “ .... I wouldn’t call it a propaganda campaign, I would call it a fact campaign. The reason we have to conduct a fact campaign is because of the Liberals and their propensity to come out with things that simply are not the truth. ......... that’s why we have to advertise: to get the facts out because this team over there are out busily amongst the people of Alberta spreading lies, propaganda, misinformation and falsehoods. So we have to advertise to get the truth out.”

Speaker of the Legislature: “I’m going to ask for temperateness here, there are words being used in this assembly that will not inspire any teacher with his or her children in the Province of alberta.”

Alberta’s Premier: “I apologize for using the word ”lies”, Mr. Speaker, they are not telling the truth.”

Looks like the Premier of Alberta thinks that anything that he says is truth and nothing but the truth, because he’s a Conservative, while any information a Liberal or New Democrat brings to the Legislature is brought in by someone who doesn’t tell the truth. Sounds very much like calling all Opposition members liars - doesn’t it?

Does Alberta’s Premier exemplify the kind of Democratic leadership that thousands of young Canadians were told, and still are being taught, is worth being wounded and dying for in order to maintain a free and open society?

Just wonderin’: Bill Barley, Severely Abnormal Albertan

Freddie's Diary - Article 9 

"I think seniors are very angry and very scared of this government," said Con Duemler. In the face of such anger, Klein conceded Saturday that middle and high-income seniors have made sacrifices under the government's cost cutting program. But he defends his statement from a day earlier suggesting that low-income seniors are better off now than when he became premier. He specified twice that his comments referred to the "very low" income elderly.

In 1994 Premier Klein promised that if the income tax base were broadened, the Alberta government would rebate to seniors any extra money collected in provincial income tax. That year the tax base was broadened with the income testing of the old age income tax credit. As a result, each year the Klein government has taken $14 million more out of Alberta seniors' pockets through provincial income tax. But Alberta seniors have not received a penny back in rebate.

The Liberals have asked the premier and treasurer basically two questions. Where's the Money? And when are you going to keep your rebate promise? Theirs questions are asked in the legislature of Ralph Klein, Jim Dinning (former Treasurer) and Stockwell Day (current treasurer). April 26 and 27, 1995, on Feb. 26 and 28, 1996 and April 23, 28, and 29, 1997. Each time these questions are asked these government ministers either say they will look into the matter or that the money has already been "rebated" in increased spending through seniors' programs.

BY NOW, SENIORS ARE OWED A REBATE OF AT LEAST $45 MILLION. The government is shirking its democratic responsibility to hold a fall sitting of the Legislative Assembly and instead has opted for a Growth Summit. I encourage seniors to prepare for the summit by contacting their local PC MLA or the premier and asking, "Where's our rebate."
Bill Bonner, Alberta Liberal Seniors Issues Critic, August, 1997, EJ

I worked for many years and was fully taxed on my earnings, and after retirement received the OAS and CPP. My Canada Pension is fully taxed. In contrast, my neighbour, also a senior, has never worked outside the home. She also gets OAS, but because of not being entitled to CPP, never having had a job, she is given the GIS by the government, which is equivalent to my CPP. However, her supplementary pension is tax-free. Where is the fairness that a person who works for years, paying taxes, is now taxed on her pension while a person who does not work gets money tax-free? Who can understand the workings of the government? P.B.Coxon, Edmonton, October 1997 EJ

The Society for the Retired and Semi-retired is facing a $38,000 deficit this year after its casino and bingo revenues plummeted and its major financial supporter cut back funding. Since 1994, Family Community Support Services trimmed the group's funding by about $20 000 from $193 000 to $174 000 in 1997. October, 97, EJ
A Fort Saskatchewan resident says the government's tax cuts announced in the 1998 budget Feb. 12 doesn't help low income seniors. Pauline Hahn points out most seniors live on a fixed income, yet face rising costs for such things as medication, lodges and nursing homes. With the government putting more money into different areas, perhaps they should look at helping seniors by returning money to programs which have experienced cuts in the past. Another thing Government could do is remove health care premiums. In a sense premiums are a tax, she said.

A WARNING to low and middle income seniors: The Alberta government wants to bill you with a health tax hike. Bill 22 allows the government to make low and middle income seniors pay health premiums. This is a $816 tax grab per year on married seniors and a $408 hike for single seniors. Bill 22 was introduced without any consultation with seniors. Currently, legislation guarantees any senior who is eligible for the Alberta Seniors Benefit is automatically exempt from paying health premiums. Bill 22 wants to sweep this away. The PCs seem to have plenty of money for Al-Pac or for Swan Hills Waste Treatment Plant. Yet for seniors, it is "pay your own way." The New Democrat opposition and I will be fighting this bill to the very end. Pam Barrett, Leader New Democrat. March 1998, EJ

SENIORS SHOULD REMEMBER KLEIN IN VOTE - As a veteran and a handicapped senior, I urge all seniors in Alberta to remember Premier Klein and his PC government in the forthcoming election. Remember Klein, leader of the government that took away many of your benefits, reduced your standard of living while providing funding for dubious corporate enterprises. Remember Klein, who made reliable, efficient healthcare a thing of the past. Universality is on the wane. Two tiered hospital care makes it possible for those with money to go to the head of the queue.

Klein is prepared to offer things as appeasement in order to get your vote--votes to give him a greater majority. Remember what Klein and his government has done to us despite a considerable opposition. What will be the result of a smaller opposition? Seniors let us deKlein the offer of sops bribes and refuse to give him and his government the votes for a greater majority. Stuart H. Lindop, Sherwood Park

This letter is telling voters to remember what the Klein government did to us since 1993 was written in just before the 1997 election. That was Klein's second term. You would think seniors, the sick and disabled and middle-income citizens had experienced enough hardship to, as Mr. Lindop said, "DeKlein, the Klein government." That did not happen then, nor did it happen in 2001. You might imagine that a provincial population, who had suffered that much, might make a different choice given the opportunity of 2 elections. We know that did not happen. 2005 will be opportunity #4 to bring this province back to sanity. Are we lambs following the Pied Piper, are we sheep being lead to slaughter or are we living, breathing, intelligent people, who can figure that 2 x 2 = 4. What do you want to happen over the next 4 years? Choose carefully.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Flash Forward? Debt to be paid off by 2025 - Klein 

Capital City Chronicle

By: J.C. Wainwright
Legislature Reporter

November 1, 2024


On the eve of his 82nd Birthday, Alberta Premier Ralph Klein declared that Alberta’s debt could be paid off by sometime next year.

Klein, who was speaking at the founding convention of the Progressive Alliance of Conservatives Party, stated, “Alberta’s shining example of initiative is why we were the first province to tackle our debt problem.” Although Alberta is the last province in Canada to pay off its debt, Klein still thinks it was his best idea.

"It would be terrific for Alberta to be debt-free when we celebrate our 120th Birthday. What a great legacy to leave Albertans!" Klein was heard saying.

Klein, who has ruled Alberta for the past thirty-two years, says he still has the “fire in his belly” and plans to lead his Progressive Conservatives into the next election, expected next spring.

The Premier also denied rumors that the younger MLA’s in his caucus, notably Gary Mar, 62, and Ken Kowalski, 79, were attempting to push him out of office.



Hansard Feb.19/04

Kevin: “...... can the Premier explain why his chief of staff spent over $1,500 of taxpayer money on hotel rooms in Edmonton when he lives in metro Edmonton?”
Ralph: “....... I guess these people {Liberals} don’t understand, thank God, what government is all about and how government runs......”

(Hansard Feb 25/04)
Kevin: “..... given the multi-million dollar surplus, what excuse does he {the Premier} offer to the little children who sit in schools hungry because there is no school lunch program?”
Ralph: “..... that comment is totally unfounded, is totally unfair, and is simply not true. You know while the opposition is sitting over there twiddling their thumbs and basically counting pennies....... we are counting the billions of dollars of new infrastructure in this province.......”

Kevin: “....... given the multi-million surplus, what excuse does the Premier offer the stroke victim who sits ten hours in the Foothills emergency room without seeing a doctor?”
Ralph: “.... the Liberals will search high and low, mainly low, to find something wrong in this province...... there are going to be 30% who believe in the Liberals or the NDs ... no matter how well we do.....”

Kevin: “..... what excuse does he {the Premier} offer vulnerable seniors who, according to his own government’s report, sit unattended in nursing homes because of staff cuts?”
Ralph: “....... he’s again focussing on the negative, on the negative, I would focus on the 225 million in seniors programs funded by this government....... they {Liberals} are focused on trying to manufacture bad news in whatever way they can and Albertans are not buying it.”

What would happen if the real citizens of the real Alberta began to know the real, as contrasted with the media image, Ralph as he stomps on anyone who dares point out how Ralph’s world has become as cold and mechanical as a bank machine?

Just wonderin’ - Bill Barley, Severely Abnormal Albertan

Friday, March 19, 2004

Gary Mar - Poet or Minister of Health 

From Alberta Hansard on Wednesday March 17th, 2004

Dr. Taft: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The main problem facing Alberta’s health care system is not out-of-control costs; it’s mismanagement of the money we have. Yesterday I asked reasonable questions of the Minister of Health and Wellness about whether his department did due diligence on the electronic health record system.
The answer I got didn’t address the question, so I’ll give the minister another chance today. To the Minister of Health and Wellness:
given that the minister announced $59 million in October for health information systems, then provided the AMA with $65 million in November, and RHAs are spending untold millions more, will the
minister tell us the total expected cost of establishing the electronic health record system?

Mr. Mar: Well, Mr. Speaker, in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day I feel
compelled to answer in the following manner.

There once was a man from Riverview
Whose opinions were respected by few.
He said: "It’s so grand
To have your head in the sand;
Our health system we need not renew".

Well Minister Mar obviously didn't make this up on the spot. He likely held a retreat somewhere to meet with his top minion to develop a response to Taft's anticipated question. Here's how that meeting might have gone.

Minister Gary: Roger. Taft is going to ask where all the cash is going on this electronic health record system thingy. How much have we spent so far?
Deputy Roger: I don't know. I thought you knew.
Minister Gary: Geez Rog. How are we going to answer. We're supposed to be fiscally responsible.
Deputy Roger: What's fiscally mean?
Minister Gary: Something about money I think.
Deputy Roger: Look. Just brush him off with a joke. How about a clever limerick. We can get one of them produced for under $15,000 I bet.
Minister Gary: Isn't that kind of expensive.
Deputy Roger: Not compared to what we're spending on the electronic records system.
Minister Gary: Good point. Have the limerick on my desk in time for Question Period on the 17th.
Deputy Roger: Yes Minister.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Mr. Marky and the Wheat Board 

Right-wing Tory MLA Marky Hlady gained the support of King Ralph in his bid to destroy the Canadian Wheat Board. Hlady's private member's bill would allow farmers to bypass the Canadian Wheat Board when selling their crops. (CBC Edmonton)

It is a very interesting battle to come from an MLA who represents a very urban downtown Calgary riding. Hlady, who is the MLA for Calgary Mountain View, has decided to use his bill to bash Ottawa and the Wheat Board, rather than help those who voted for him.

Calgary, like many other urban centres across Canada, is facing many problems such as poverty, drugs, gang problems, and not to mention a major shortage of hospital beds.

The voters of Calgary Mountain View would probably be better served if Mr. Marky left this issue to the over-weight and underworked Tory Rural Caucus.

Freddie's Diary - Article 8 

Freddie's Diary - Article 8

The province has buried a second report on the welfare of Alberta seniors', says Christine Lawrence, with the Alberta Council on Aging. The full report, obtained by 'The Journal' tells of angry seniors who have seen their living standards cut by up to 25% face eroding health services and other hardships. The Cumulative Impact Report was produced at the request of Premier Ralph Klein.

The full version from the 12-member provincially appointed council has 44 pages and contains seniors concerns as well as graphics and a summary of critical issues. All that was released was a two-page summary. It was attached to a Nov. 26th government release heralding a $14 million increase in senior's benefits. Shirley McClellan, the minister responsible for seniors, said Friday that she was unaware there was a full report.

"It's very disturbing that a government would take a report prepared and paid for with public funds and shelve it or hide it because it's embarrassing to them," said Grant Mitchell, Liberal Leader.

Klein said he doesn't know what happened to copies of the full report, but he suggested that the decision to release a summary may have been part of the government's ongoing efforts to cut down on use of paper. . February 23/97, Bonnyville, EJ.

SENIORS BENEFIT A STEP BACKWARD, Southam Newspapers, Vancouver/97
"The Seniors Benefit: A Flawed Proposal" is the report commissioned by CARP, written by Walter Kelm, retired former director of planning and development for CPP and a past director of the Treasury Board. "First they cut back billions and subsequently only restore millions to the program, then the spin doctors take over and say: "Judge us by the millions we've left in a program, not by the billions we've taken out." "Current seniors, who will continue to collect OAS, will lose their retirement income tax credit in 2001 - and that alone could lower their after-tax income by about $2000,"Kelm said.

The 300 000 member-strong CARP organization says that Ottawa must either change or scrap a new seniors benefit proposed for the year 2001. Lillian Morgenthau says the new income-tested benefit represents the latest of many attacks on seniors' incomes and the public should speak out. "This isn't a problem for seniors," argues the founder of the 13 year-old CARP, "Each time the government steals something from seniors it affects us all." The Canadians who will loose the most are people now in their 50s and the baby boomers," she said.

LIBERAL SURVEY says: 88% believe Premier Ralph Klein has not kept a 1993 promise to protect seniors. 76% identified extended benefits such as eyeglasses, dentures and dental work as the priority area to have funding reinstated. In the area of health, seniors surveyed said they were worried about early hospital discharge, waiting lists and understaffing of medical staff.

"I've heard this for the past three years," Klein told reporters. "This kind of Liberal fear-mongering is nothing new to me." Klein said lower-income Alberta seniors are better off today than they were three years ago. He called Alberta's programs "second to none." February/97, EJ.

SENIORS AREN'T BETTER OFF NOW. There's an electioneering myth being touted by our premier that seniors are better off now than in 1993. We pay $800 for medical premiums that we didn't pay before. Our house taxes have gone up $800 yearly because we lost our education tax exemption. Dental and eye benefits are about half of what they were in 1993. Also, prescription drug costs have increased to 30% as opposed to 20% before. User fees are erupting everywhere we go: Because of the drop in interest rates, seniors' incomes based on investments like GICs have dropped about 30%. Seniors used to be able to stay in hospital until nearly recovered. Now, they are sent home before adequate home care is verified. In 1993, I doubt a heart attack victim would have spent seven hours in an ambulance seeking emergency care in 3 hospitals before finally dying.

Could seniors be the prime targets in Klein's deficit reduction? You bet! Anna Harder, St. Albert.

SENIORS' CLOUT COULD SWING SEATS, March, 97 EJ. "I think the upper middle-class and the more well to do seniors will vote for the Conservatives. They haven't been hit so hard and they have a comfort zone." Vera Brown.

In 1997 there were roughly 97,000 senior citizens living in Edmonton. At any given time only 8% of seniors is well to do. That leaves 89,240 who are average to poor seniors. Traditionally there is a high voter turnout in the 65 and over age bracket. A survey done by the University of Alberta's Population Research Lab reveal that 65% of seniors would vote Conservative and only 15 % would vote Liberal?

If a survey was taken today (2004) just before an election what would it reveal? There would probably be more seniors living in Edmonton with about the same percentage of well-to-do seniors. After the past 10 years of fear, poverty, health care worries, waiting lists, and constant cuts to fixed income groups, would 65% of seniors still vote PC or would the majority of seniors consider it is time for change. Has fear, worry and pain become so normal that seniors consider these three conditions a have to have in order to let us know we are still alive? Or could it be possible that the majority of seniors living in Alberta today will seek change with a better future for our children.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Insurance reforms create false expectations says industry 

Click here to see CBC Calgary story: "The Klein government is creating false expectations by promising that 80 per cent of Alberta drivers will see lower premiums, the head of one of the country's biggest insurance companies says."

Poor Premier. After freezing auto insurance premiums at record high levels, he was pressured into promising that 80% of Alberta drivers would see lower premiums. Now Dominion Insurance CEO George Cooke says no way - we've got profits to make. As the story mentions, Mr Cooke's comments came a day before the insurance industry announced its net profits for 2003 of $2.63 billion, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, a 700 per cent increase over the previous year. What's a Premier to do?

Well he has to let the insurance company make big profits. It's the right wing, Progressive Conservative, pro-business, look-after-your-buddies thing to do. So suggesting they take less profit by truly competing with each other is out of the question. So the only ways to deliver lower premiums to 80% of Albertans as promised are:

1. Jack the rates on the other 20%.
2. Reduce the benefits your premiums deliver through caps etc.
3. Subsidize the insurance companies with royalty and tax dollars belonging to the citizens.

If you think number three can't happen, look at how our wealth is being transferred to the shareholders of electricity generators - through the magic of deregulation followed by rebates, oil sands companies - through the magic of minimum 1% royalties until capital costs are recovered , and US meat packing plants - through the magic of BSE relief to beef producers.

The solution will likely be a combination of all three.

Keep your eyes wide open folks.

A Letter to Premier Klein from SUN 

Here is a letter sent to Premier Klein from Ireen Slater, St.Albert Chair & Regional Coordinator for SENIORS UNITED NOW (SUN). The Premiers response will be posted when it is received. Please check PRATS (Politicians Response and Tracking System) for the Premier's record to date.

March 9, 2004

Hon. Ralph Klein, Premier
Government of Alberta
#307 - 10800 97th Ave.
Edmonton, Alberta
T5K 2B7

Dear Premier Klein:

On behalf of the St. Albert members of Seniors United Now, I would like to draw your attention to the concerns of seniors in this province. Despite attempts by various groups and advocates of seniors to illicit some response we have been consistently ignored.

Since 1994 seniors have patiently awaited a return of the benefits that were taken away at that time. Other programs cut have since been restored, and even MLA’s have received an increase in pay. To date seniors have received nothing back, the cost of living continues to increase, yet our incomes remain fixed and the plight of many has deteriorated to crisis level. Those fortunate enough to have been able to prepare financially for retirement are finding that what they thought was sufficient is now woefully inadequate. Others who through life circumstances were limited in their ability to save are finding their quality of life seriously diminished in their declining years. We are told that seniors were consulted before the cuts but to what extent this was done is questionable. Regardless after ten years this is hardly relevant. The following is a quick review of what was lost and how this has affected seniors.
In total $672 million was taken away from seniors including:

* $480 per year for regular dental care
* assistance with dentures, hearing aids, eye glasses
* free health care premiums
* help to pay municipal taxes
* physiotherapy (greatly limited now)
* rental rebates
* home repair grants of up to $4,000
* assistance with home care needs (greatly limited)
* seniors receiving OAS and GIS cut by up to $95
* assistance for owners of low cost housing (decreasing this type of housing available to seniors)

In addition the cost of utilities has increased due to deregulation, long-term care and seniors lodges has been increased up to 48%, the cost of medications risen by 200%. Staff reductions in the medical field, the trend towards privatization, and the lack of standardized care in seniors’ homes have all had negative affects on seniors’ care. Cutoff levels for assistance are unrealistic creating a whole new level of poverty for the elderly. Studies show that privatization is not the answer and that an adequately supported public health system is self sustaining. A recent study by the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows that in the past 10 years Alberta spent less on health care than any province as a share of the GDP increasing only by 1.5% to 2% per year.

In the early 1990’s, you appealed to us to help reduce the deficit, with the reassurance that things would be restored when the economy improved. At the same time the oil companies, a primary source of revenue for this province, had their royalties, taxes and other costs reduced. The loss of these royalties has cost the taxpayers millions of dollars in the last 10 years, and while the oil companies flourished, the social systems struggled. One wonders how the disenfranchised feel about funding the oil companies? You have responded to some degree to strong pressure from the more powerful education and health systems, but seniors continue to be ignored, despite Alberta’s current wealth. Sadly, for some, any help now will come too late, as the loss of revenue over the years, and the affect on their well being can never be restored.

What then are the affects? To enjoy a healthy and balanced lifestyle one needs adequate finances, healthy teeth to maintain good nutrition, proper eye wear to avoid accidents, drive a car, read etc., ongoing physiotherapy to maintain a healthy body and to enjoy a good quality of life without pain, hearing aids to avoid isolation, and enjoy social activities, and supports to remain in one’s home if this is desirable. Prevention is key, and more cost effective than critical care. The lack of these supports can result in depression, fear, poor nutrition, social isolation, loss of dignity, dependency on prescription drugs or alcohol, stress and the risk of abuse of the elderly who may be dependent on family for financial, physical or emotional support. Perhaps even suicide.

Government representatives have consistently defended the Government’s inaction by stating that seniors most in need are receiving assistance, implying that the rest of seniors are being greedy, and a drain on society. The facts are that the senior population of Alberta remains at 10%. 60% have an income of $20,000 or less, and many of these are just above the income cut off level for assistance. Only 7% of seniors have an income of $50,000 per year. Only 4% are in long-term care, and the rest are in their own homes, or renting. Seniors are healthier, live longer and continue to make significant contributions to their communities in the business and volunteer sector. They have helped to build this province through hard work and deserve some respect in their latter years. Many women worked in the home, some on the farm and volunteered their time giving them little opportunity to build their own financial independence. Women remain among the poorest in the country especially as they age. The recent “Speech from the Throne” did nothing to reassure us that we would be seeing any changes to government policy any time soon. Any reference to seniors focused on the cost of the upcoming generation of baby boomers. This seems irrelevant given that the majority of baby boomers are two income families, who have had more opportunity to build their financial resources, pay taxes and will continue to do so.

In conclusion, Mr. Premier, we urge that you show the senior citizens of this province that your Government cares about their welfare. We ask for the immediate restoration of all lost benefits, taking into consideration the increased cost of living over the past 10 years. It is essential that any policies being developed affecting seniors be done with the full consultation of seniors’ advocates, and professionals working with the elderly. Be assured that seniors groups are gaining momentum and are ready to fight for their rights. We respectfully request an early response.


Ireen Slater, St.Albert Chair,
Regional Coordinator for SENIORS UNITED NOW (SUN)

Cc Mary O’Neill, MLA
Doug Horner, MLA

Monday, March 15, 2004

Tory MLA Jon Lord Responds on Minimum Wage  

On January 21, 2004 Michael Marlowe wrote a letter to Premier Klein and copied the other MLA's in the Province. The subject was the Alberta Minimum wage. A copy of that letter was posted on Ralph's World and can be viewed by clicking here.

Jon Lord, Tory MLA for Calgary Currie is the first to respond and his e-mail to Michael is reproduced verbatim below. We track MLA responsiveness with our PRATS system which can be accessed by clicking here.

Here is Mr. Lord's response.

Mr. Marlowe, you would do well to go to my web-page at www.jonlord.ca, then go to the discussion pages, Social Issues, Minimum wage discussion, and read why raising the minimum wage is not the panacea you obviously think it is - in fact, about 8 out of 10 economists agree that raising the minimum wages does nothing to improve poverty, and in fact may make it worse for the poor. Life is much more complicated than you seem to realize, and the obvious, knee-jerk, simplistic answers you seem to think are no-brainers, clearly do not recognize this fact nor how complicated life really is. If it were so easy, simple, and obvious - how stupid do you think we are???? Why wouldn't we have done it long ago??? or do you really believe we went into politics to be mean, malicious people, working against the public interest?? If so, you really need to grow up a bit and quit reading so many newspaper headlines. Do your homework first, and show some respect for other people's intelligence, before writing such drivel to me again. Most of what you think are the solutions, are not nearly so clear-cut nor positive as you seem to simplistically seem to believe. Many of them, would make the problem worse for the very people you claim to be speaking for.

Good day sir

Sunday, March 14, 2004

"Outside the Box" with Premier Klein 

Sometimes you have to read between the lines when things the Premier says don't seem to make sense. The problem is really with us because we can't think outside the box the way Ralph and his crowd can. They are just way ahead of the citizens on most things.

This current disappearance of $400 million dollars of Albertan's tax dollars into the beef industry is a good example. Click here for details. Agriculture Minister Shirley McClellan says packing plants costs have risen because they must now pay for things like getting rid of animal parts (spinal cords for example) and it's only fair that the taxpayer should help them out. Now common sense tells us that $400 million seems like a lot for spinal cord disposal but that's because we don't think outside the box. If we did we would connect the missing $400 million with the fact that our Premier is down in the US offering Alberta as a prime location for our American neighbours to put their proposed anti-ballistic missile defense shield. See news story by clicking here. We know that Ralph is in tight with Vice President Dick Cheney so here's what I think happened.

VP Dick: Rolf! It's great to see you again ole buddy.
Premier Ralph: It's "Ralph" Mr. Vice-President.
VP Dick: Whatever. What's up? You've got three minutes.
Premier Ralph: I hear you need a place not on American soil to put your ABMs and I've got just the place for you.
VP Dick: Shoot
Premier Ralph: We'll hide 'em in three of our meat packing plants in Alberta. One in Calgary, one in Brooks, and one in High River. Nobody would ever think of looking for them there and our boys can use the business. As a matter of fact I've already spent $399 million building silos for them. We know how to build silos in Alberta being an agricultural nation and all.
VP Dick: $399 million? Why not $400 million?
Premier Ralph: We had to spend a million disposing of spinal cords.
VP Dick: OK Rolf, thanks for the offer. I've got somebody called Gordon Campbell waiting to see me - something about hiding the ABMs in old growth forests. I'll have to get back to you.
Premier Ralph: Look forward to hearing from you Mr. Vice-President.

How's that for outside the box?

Friday, March 12, 2004

Ralph's World, three years later. Was it worth the ride? 

Three years ago today, Premier Ralph Klein, in a less than sober victory speech, christened the Province of Alberta in his name. When he spoke the now infamous words "Welcome to Ralph's World," things in Alberta changed.

That night was huge for King Ralph. Not only had succeeded in defeating his long-time rival, Liberal Leader Nancy MacBeth, but Team Ralph had won their largest majority in the Alberta Legislature, 74 MLA's. Opposition candidates and MLA's were droping like flies as Ralph’s juggernaut swept through the once Liberal Stronghold of Edmonton. The Tories won 11 seats in Edmonton that night (In 1997, they won 2 and in 1993 they won none).

Edmontonians were told that they were getting a better brighter deal, more clought in cabinet, and a stronger voice in the locker room of Team Ralph Stadium. They got duped.

What Edmontonians got were three Ministers (Calgary got six) and seven lackey MLA’s who have sat quietly in the corner, like trained seals, as Edmonton has got whacked by the Calgary based Tory Old Guard.

Edmontonians were promised a stronger voice in Alberta's Government. Where was this stronger voice when Edmonton lost a seat in the Legislature and Calgary gained three? Where was this voice when Lyle Oberg decided to attack the Edmonton Public School Board in a fit of bitter revenge? Where was this voice when their fellow Tory MLA, Mark Norris, threatened to take over the Edmonton City Centre Airport? Where were they when healthcare premiums for seniors increased by 30%? Where were they when over 1000 teachers from across Alberta were fired?

They were nowhere to be found.

It’s time to send a message to Coach Ralph and his Team. It’s time to let them know that Edmontonians and Albertans deserve better. It’s time for a change.

Edmonton MLA's in Alberta's Legislature

Pre-"Ralph's World"
Liberal - 12 MLA's
PC - 3 MLA's
ND - 2 MLA's
Independent - 1 MLA
Vacant - 1 MLA

In Ralph's World (Now)
PC - 11 MLA's
Liberal - 6 MLA's
ND - 2 MLA's

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Team Ralph - 2 / Team Democracy - 0 

This past week, Team Ralph scored another point against Team Democracy in the face-off over the $400 Million Beefgate Scandal.

For the second time in just as many weeks, King Ralph's majority on the Public Accounts Committee voted AGAINST fiscal accountability and openness.

At the beginning of the meeting, Tory MLA’s agreed on a motion by ND MLA Brian Mason to question the Auditor General regarding the Beefgate Scandal. Not surprisingly, the Tories swiftly changed their tune when reporters began to show up at the meeting (Some people believe that Tory MLA’s are surgically implanted with an anti-controversy radar chip at birth).

Perennial Tory lackey Drew Hutton suggested that the only job of the public accounts committee is to scrutinize spending from the previous fiscal year (CBC Edmonton) Very forward thinking, Drew! The Alberta Advantage has 20/20 hindsight vision, but crawls forward like a blind bat.

It really makes you wonder what these guys are trying to hide. If there is no problem with the BSE Program then ANSWER THE QUESTION!

Well, we will always know one thing for sure; those of us here at Ralph’s World will always be rooting for Team Democracy.

Freddie's Diary - Article 7 

SENIORS PROGRAM FIRST IN CANADA. The Capital Health Authority had a good idea on how to save dollars and help frail senior citizens at the same time. The program was called "Choices" Choices would cost $50 a day per client, including physician costs and medication as opposed to $75 a day, plus physician costs in a continuing care facility. It was said that a similar program was operating in 15 communities in the USA.

Two of these centers are already in operation in Edmonton with a third to open in the fall. This program is aimed at seniors 75 and older. Seniors go to the centers from one to five days a week to get a full range of medical, social and supportive services. Transportation is provided. There are also overnight treatment and rest beds at the centre. Choice also provides home services to its members, including 24-hour emergency help, personal care, homemaking and meals. There are no fees for the basic Choice program. Each Choice centre can hold 360 seniors. April 3, 96, EJ. Does anyone know if this program is still in operation? In Klein's Alberta this program seems too good to be true.

GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS WERE DELVING INTO SENIOR'S INCOME TAX DATA AT WILL WITHOUT WRITTEN CONSENT. Revenue Canada and the Alberta Seniors Benefit program are putting an end to a situation in which the province was allowed unauthorized access to seniors' income-tax data government officials say. The action comes as the provincial privacy commissioner's office investigates a complaint by the Alberta Council on Aging. Alberta Seniors Benefit provides 144 489 of Alberta's estimated 274 900 seniors annual cash benefits of up to $2350 a year for singles and up to $3500 a year for couples. These benefits are income sensitive. The province uses the income tax data to ensure that wealthy people do not cash in on student's loans, health care subsidies and income security programs. The government is now required to acquire a written consent before touching anyone's personal data. September 13, 1996, Calgary Herald.

SENIORS GROUP URGES INQUIRY INTO SUFFOCATION, August 6, 1996, EJ. According to the medical examiner's report on Nov. 24, 1995 at 10:21 Clark pressed a call bell that would electronically summon staff from the facility's front desk. No one responded. About 40 minutes later, a staff member who was looking for a colleague entered the room and found Clark in a wheelchair with his head slumped forward, and disconnected from the ventilator. Efforts to revive him failed. The Fatalities Review Board made the decision against holding an inquiry into the suffocation death of George Clark, resident of the Good Samaritan Centre in Mill Woods.

Jennifer Fortier of Grand Chache also suffocated to death on the center's respirator unit, 3 months after Clark. A request for an inquiry from her father Pierre Fortier was granted.

We know from recent news that seniors and the disabled are still loosing their lives at long term care centers. These deaths are rarely thoroughly investigated, which leaves the public to believe the lives of the elderly and disabled are of little value.

HOSPITALS UNSAFE FOR SENIORS EVEN IN EMERGENCIES. In September of 1996, Jean Innes, who chairs the Independent Seniors Community Health Council and Linda Sloan, president of the Staff Nurses Association of Alberta advise sick seniors to take an advocate with you should you need to go to any hospital. Geriatrician Dr. Janet McElhaney, who helped establish an acute risk management clinic for seniors at University Hospital, agrees that informal advocates are necessary. Members of Seniors Action and Liaison Team have handed out leaflets warning seniors not to go to hospital alone, even in an emergency. The reason for this advice was that there was not enough staff at hospitals to take care of the needs of the patients. Is it any different at 2004??

MIDDLE CLASS SENIORS HURTING THE MOST. Government cutbacks are slashing the incomes of middle class senior citizens, say representatives of seniors' groups. "It’s the middle income senior who is hurting the most," said Tony Storcer, vice-president for the Alberta Council on Aging. A couple with an annual income of $30 000 has lost about $8 000 due to tax increases, income tax changes and support program cutbacks at the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government, Storcer said.

Jerry Pitts, president of the Alberta Council of Aging, said the benefit program is providing less money to recipients at higher cost than before the start of the cutbacks. Now there are 65 programs instead of 10. "Seniors often don’t know how to apply for benefits".

LAMENT OF THE OLDER WORKER WITH NO PENSION. It's nice to see the decline in the unemployment rate particularly in Alberta. However, for the thousands of older workers dumped from the system in recent years it is still virtually impossible to find a job. Age discrimination is rampant today and mature job seekers have no recourse to level the playing field. This is Canada's hidden tragedy. Stats Canada should report older worker unemployment rates for a more meaningful look at Canada's job picture. September 1996, EJ.

Monday, March 08, 2004


Just got to wonderin’: why does the creator of Ralph’s World get so snarly and become abusive whenever he’s asked about where he spends the people’s money?

Been thinking lately about fair play, decency and respect for fellow human beings.

Back in the real Alberta, the one that existed for some ninety years before Ralph took it over and remade it in his own image, Ole Bill and his buddies grew up pretty darn sure that there would always be a mature adult somewhere around to whom they could turn when bigger kids bullied them out of what belonged to them.

When we kids from smaller villages went to play ball or hockey against boys from bigger towns with more resources there would always be a grown-up, we thought, who would stand apart and decide whether the shots we made were fair or foul.

We who were from smaller towns with poorer equipment didn’t often win but we knew the man chosen as “ump” or “ref’” was there to ensure the game was fair. Win or lose we believed in a sense of decency and fair play.

Then one day Ralph and his gang became the judges and dividers of every resource, including its people, that this part of Canada has been given by Nature or God.

Ole Bill and his neighbors have watched in disbelief as Ralph and his buddies, over the last ten years have become a big powerful outfit that takes the side of all the other big powerful outfits that bully down down, trample on and take resources from smaller outfits.

In Ralph’s World the referee, with all the power given to him by a careless crowd that seems to cheer for bullies, is guaranteeing that the big guys are going to win and the people are going to lose.

The “level playing field” that Ralph talks about in order to hide what’s really going on from the people who could challenge him really means penalizing the people’s team so he can guarantee the powerful money-driven teams a profit.

Doesn’t matter to Ralph, for instance, that his hand selected managers are bullying nurses into becoming more and more tools in their hands. In fact, Ralph threatens to stomp on the outfit that stands up for them.

If someone who believes in fair play stands up yells “foul! look what you’re doing to the people being hurt” the referee shouts them down and changes the subject.

When, for example, an elected representative of people asks this one-eyed referee during question period about the fact that hospital emergency wards in his favorite city have had to invent the word “Burgundy” to describe how far overloaded beyond ‘code red’ they are forced to be, Ralph shouts back “malicious, unfair” and then raves about how powerful and overloaded with money his own team is.

But when it comes to suggesting Ralph’s team might just be feeding more than their share of hay to the big boys who play in the cow pasture league Ole Bill and some of his farmer friends think they just may be seeing the one-eyed umpire a bit shaken.

Could it be that the creator of Ralph’s World doesn’t like to face the possibility that even those who have fed on his words are beginning to question his sense of fairness and concern for the people who make up the real Alberta?

Could it be that the words “I’ve had enough of this crap” mean that in Ralph’s World the questions of people on the small teams like Seniors Groups, Welfare Societies, Nurses and Teachers Organizations are on the same level as what cattle feed lot operators carry out in the spring time and spread on the fields?

Just Wonderin' - Bill Barley, Abnormal Albertan

Ralph's lackeys dominate the Public Accounts Committee 

Last week's highly publicized temper tantrum by King Ralph, after reporters questioned where his government's 400,000,000$ BSE Aid Package was allocated, was amazing and disgusting in the same breath!

But there was more to it than Ralph's "I've had enough of this crap" comment. Last week's "crap" was just beginning.

The same week, on the Public Accounts Committee, the Opposition proposed a motion to have the Auditor General probe the Tory BSE program's spending. Not surprisingly, Ralph's majority on the committee voted down the motion.

In the spirit of democracy and free press, Ralph's World has compiled a list of the Tory MLA's who voted AGAINST the inquiry, and the Opposition MLA's who voted FOR the inquiry.

Please feel free to contact them with your comments around the Tories lack of action and disrespect for taxpayers dollars.

Tories who voted AGAINST an inquiry

- Wayne Cao (PC MLA Calgary Fort)

- Harvey Cenaiko (PC MLA Calgary Buffalo)

- Hector Goudreau (PC MLA Dunvegan)

- Drew Hutton (PC MLA Edmonton Glenora)

- Mary Anne Jablonski (PC MLA Red Deer North)

- Gary Masyk (PC MLA Edmonton Norwood)

Opposition MLA's who voted FOR an Inquery

- Laurie Blakeman (Liberal MLA Edmonton Centre)

- Brian Mason (ND MLA Edmonton Highlands)

- Dr. Kevin Taft (Liberal MLA Edmonton Riverview)

Check out this link for a transcript of the meeting.

Where's the Progressive in Progressive Conservative? 

Below is a letter sent to Premier Klein from Albertan Michael Marlowe with a copy to Ralph's World. We have entered the letter into our state-of-the-art Politician's Response and Tracking System, better known as PRATS. Click here to see how our politicians are faring.

To :premier@gov.ab.ca
CC :dave.hancock@gov.ab.ca, sharee.mastre@gov.ab.ca
Sent :March 6, 2004

Subject :Health Care Premiums, Senior Support Programs , Minimum Wages & Corporate Subsidies

Dear Premier Klein and all Caucus Members,

One individual, in his recent presentation to the Government MLA Committee on Strengthening Alberta's Role in Confederation, referred to emphasizing the 'progressive side of our Progressive Conservative Government'.

This reference and the response of the Hon. Clint Dunford to our constant question involving the minimum wage in Alberta, prompted this letter to you and caucus members. It appears to many that no change will take place in the following areas until there is a change in governance in our province.

1. The Minimum Wage
Minister Dunford indicated that the minimum wage is a first step in Alberta's labour market that offers job and wage opportunities. He claims our province prides itself in focusing to insure Albertans have skills to meet the demands of a strong labour market and yet our government actually turns its back on
those employees, albeit only 1.2% of the labour force who receive the lowest minimum wage in Canada - $5.90 an hour for the services such workers provide. By not increasing the minimum wage, even though the Mayors and Councillors/Aldermen representing well over 80% of Alberta's population last
fall at their annual Urban Municipal Association's meeting passed a motion encouraging your government increase the minimum wage in two stages to $6.90 an hour since they believe it would be economically good for all concerned, your government Mr. Premier vetoed such thought and continues to do so.

Is it because, even though many caucus members may have supported increasing the minimum wage, your comments publicly had an affect on their decision that although you personally do not support increasing the minimum wage, you would go along with what caucus members decide. Did you really believe caucus members would approve an increase knowing you made your personal feelings in
this regards publicly? After all Mr. Premier, you also did state publicly that only one voice counted in caucus and that was your voice, and with such a comment, surely, even though there was support for an increased minimum wage by the Mayors and Councillors/Aldermen, your voice publicly took precedence with caucus members.

It appears your government would rather have low-income Albertans apply to the government for low-income support than allowing them to enjoy a reasonable minimum wage for the services they provide. A reasonable minimum wage would no doubt reduce the number of such applications for support.

2. Health Care Premiums:
How can emphasize the progressive side of your government when your government imposes a regressive tax - Health Care Premium tax - which tax doesn't exist is most other provinces in our country. That tax was even increased not too many years ago.

With progressiveness usually come equality in treatment of all Albertans. Do you believe this occurs in Alberta?

We have many seniors as one example, similar to many other Albertans, whose incomes are barely over $27 thousand annually. They are required to pay full Health Care Premiums and even though at least 45% of their income are spent on one form of tax or another, they find their tax dollars subsidize in part or in full Premium Costs for our MLAs, municipal elected officials, teachers, nurses and all other public sector workers. This, in spite of the fact that all of these latter individuals have double and quadruple the incomes these individuals have. Is this an equitable situation for any progressive Conservative
Gov't to have?

3. Have we really gotten out of business of being in business?
Or has our government developed a way to provide grant dollars or subsidies indirectly in corporate welfare to Corporations, when our government not so many years ago stated they would stay out of business.

When oil was only $10 a barrel several years ago, companies in the oil-sands were making ends meet and made a few dollars. Now that oil has been over $25 a barrel for a number of years and over $30 a barrel for over a year, newspaper reports of profits of over $1 billion dollars are becoming more common every month. And yet, our government has been granting some of these corporations royalty holidays in excess of $330 million annually, Albertans rightfully owned royalty dollars. These royalty holiday dollars would go a long way in providing Health Care Premiums for all Albertans.

4. Seniors Eliminated Support Programs
In 1995, Mr. Premier, you at that time were quoted as saying your government would review the drastically reduced senior support programs that had taken place. This review has carried on for almost 10 years with further reduced senior support programs taking place. We recently received a letter from the Seniors' Minister that these programs are under review. Still?

Your failure to respond personally as requested in our letter to you early in December or even invite seniors to meet with you gives many seniors the impression your government has no intentions to return in part or in full any of the universal senior support programs that your government eliminated and you are not prepared to assure seniors publicly that no further reductions will take place in what support programs remain.

Your government, like no other government in Canada, has been blessed with resource revenues the envy of all other governments. But, the only ones who have benefited are those primarily in the public sector, teachers, doctors, nurses, and those Alberta with more than reasonable average incomes through the flat tax system. Public sector salaries a few decades ago averaged 10% below comparable work in the private sector because of the benefits including pensions provided them. Today, public sector benefits have increased over the years and their salaries are now averaging 15% higher than in the private sector.

Today, minimum wage earners and seniors who have lost their support programs and are on fixed incomes, are the only ones not benefiting from the Alberta Advantage and the blessings of the increased revenues pouring into government coffers.

It appears Mr. Premier that many of us will have to look to supporting change in governance as your government continues to cater to corporations and those Albertans who have continuously enjoyed incomes in the higher income brackets.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Marlowe

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Dear Karen Letter from COSA 

Below is a letter from the the Coalition of Seniors Advocates to Tory MLA Karen Kryczka. As is our custom here at Ralph's World, we will publish Karen's response if and when it is received. If you would like to encourage Karen to respond you may e-mail her at karen.kryczka@assembly.ab.ca.

Click here for a record of Alberta MLA's responsiveness to letters written in the past.

Here's the letter.

March 1, 2004

Ms. Karen Kryczka
MLA, Calgary West
Government of Alberta
#503 – 10800 – 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB
T5K 2B6

Dear Karen:

The February 27, 2004 COSA rally/demonstration was a great success. The presentation to the Calgary Caucus was frustrating because of the Klein government’s undemocratic control of public presentations - of which Albertans will be informed.

COSA takes exception to your February 27th comment on television whereby you infer that seniors should look to the United Way for financial assistance. You are no doubt referring to the Seniors Services Intersectoral Planning study which is still in the planning stage. This study in no way provides direct financial support to seniors. I know, I’m on the Committee. You should make a public apology to the seniors of Alberta.

Finally, I am taking inquiries from seniors asking how they can get funding from the United Way. How embarrassing.

Yours sincerely,

Jerry Pitts,
Chairman, COSA

Cc: Calgary Sun Calgary Herald
Calgary Seniors Edmonton Journal
One Voice Premier Ralph Klein
MLA Dr. Raj Pannu MLA Laurie Blakeman
MLA Richard Magnus SUN
SALT United Way
Harry Chase COSA Website
Ralph’s World Website

Friday, March 05, 2004

Mr. Dress-Up 

Article by Andrew Nikiforuk: "Here's the perception: Ralph Klein is Canada's leading neo-conservative revolutionary, whose small-government and free-market policies have brought unparalleled prosperity to Alberta. Now here's the reality."

Have a look at this December 2002 article by Andrew Nikiforuk. It is 15 months old but it goes a long way to explaining why such a rich province like ours has so few citizens participating in the benefits.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

"I've Had Enough of This Crap" - says Klein 

"I've had enough of this crap" Ralph Himself muttered as he ran from reporters at a newsconference yesterday regarding the BSE crisis in our Province. See news stories by clicking here and here and a previous Ralph's World posting here. You can even watch Ralph courtesy of CTV by clicking here.

Read on.

"Providing a fair marketplace for both buyers and sellers is a priority for Government Services. Consumer Services contributes to this goal by investigating consumer complaints, enforcing consumer protection legislation, licensing and bonding regulated businesses, informing consumers of their rights and responsibilities, and providing an appropriate regulatory framework for consumers and business."

The above quote is from the Alberta Government website. It states what the Alberta Government Consumer Services Branch professes to do. Ralph refuses to allow an investigation into whether our tax dollars for BSE support of the cattle producers has instead flowed to the bottom line of meat packers Cargill and Tyson. He says it is up to the Feds to investigate that. Hmmmm. Would not this investigation come under the professed aim of "Providing a fair marketplace for both buyers and sellers?". Guess Ralph has a different concept of fair marketplace than his PR folks have. They really should coordinate on things like this.

Speaking of investigations, here's something I would like to see investigated.

Has any reporter headed down to the Elections Alberta office at Suite 100, 11510 Kingsway Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta, T5G 2Y5, Canada to see what contributions Cargill and Tyson made to the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party?

Ralph's says he's had enough of this crap. This crap is reporters daring to question Ralph Himself about where taxpayer money goes in this Province.

I've had enough of this crap too. Klein Krap.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Freddie's Diary - Article 6 

Neil Reimer said more has been asked of seniors than anyone. "One program we would have been able to live with but, 15 seniors programs have been either eliminated, altered or cut." He says in most cases seniors have faced 17% and as high as 25% cuts and more if they have health problems. January 95, EJ - Premier Klein admitted the cuts have "gone too far." He promised a review of seniors programs - specifically lodge fees and the Health Care premiums. Betty Finch, President of Retired and Semi Retired Society said: "Its all rhetoric. I think he will keep on with the cuts!" The Liberals calculate that the provincial government under Klein has brought in 80 user fees and increased taxes such as health care premiums totaling about $400 million.

In the month leading up to the 50th anniversary of V.E. Day, the Royal Canadian Legion here has set up what social critics are calling an embarrassing first for Canada, a food bank especially for veterans. Most of those needing food so far have been veterans of the Second World War, which makes them senior citizens in their 70s. Jim Hart, Reform MP and the party's critic on veterans' affairs said the food bank's existence is a symbol of the failure of Canada social programs. Mr. Knowler, a 70-year-old veteran said, the situation for senior veterans has become markedly worse since the provincial PC government's cuts in social programs have taken hold. April 12, 95, Globe and Mail, Calgary.

David Ross, Executive Director of the Canadian Council on Social Development in Ottawa, said it is no surprise that Alberta has become the site of a special food bank for veterans. The council's figures show that between 1981 and 1992 the intensity of poverty in Alberta has grown more than in any other province. If that was true in 1992, think of what it must be now after 10 years of cut and slash.

There was no tax free day for seniors in 1995 because many seniors saw their Alberta tax increase by 300 % or more through Health Care Premiums, loss of benefits, loss of homeowner rebates and increased prescription costs, "Thanks to Klein." John Gleeson, April, 95, EJ

The government tried to sooth angry Alberta seniors by creating a $1 million fund to help old people in tight financial squeezes. There would be a maximum of $500 for singles and $1000 for a couple. Seniors applying for this one-time grant found it very difficult to gain any dollars from the program.. Bette Hewes, Liberal seniors critic said, "It is something they had to do to stop the hemorrhaging of public opinion in the province." April, 95 EJ.

Jane Fulton appointed Deputy Health Minister. Fulton was known as an advocate for two-tier medicine and private health care. Many protested her appointment for that reason. July 5, 95 EJ

95% of seniors who applied for the special needs program were turned down. "Clearly the provincial government isn't committed to helping seniors," said Grant Mitchell. "They got peoples hopes up a little bit and then didn't do anything." "Seniors are required to submit receipts for the past 3 years and other documents to prove they are in financial need is onerous and unfair," said Mitchell. Seniors must prove their financial hardship is directly due to changes in senior's health, accommodation or communities care program. Betty Hewes said the Special Needs program is an illusion designed to make seniors believe help is available. Chris Lawrence, Director of the Alberta Council on Aging, worries that provincial cuts to senior's benefits are making people more vulnerable to abuse.
Sept 2, 95, EJ

Senior's Report reissued because the last report was Shredded, Dec/95, EJ
Apparently the original report (2000 copies) was scheduled to be released in December of 1992. Diane Mirosh, who took over as community development minister five days after the scheduled release, replaced the 164-page report with a 36-page report. The original was produced after a year of consultation with seniors. The cost of the report was estimated to be $1 million. One of the original authors' of the documents said it was destroyed because it contradicted the government's claim that spending on senior's programs was out of control. Kevin Taft said, "It clearly laid out that costs and expenditures were not a cause for any great alarm. It dealt with issues the Klein government didn't want the public to know about. The report showed per capita government spending on seniors programs, after inflation, dropped between 1984-85 and 90-91.

Klein claimed he knew nothing about the shredding. Taft called it "absurd" that Klein and his staff would not be aware of the report or its destruction. "Throughout the process of this report, promises were made repeatedly that is would be an open honest process." Neil Reimer, past-president of the Alberta Council on Aging, said, "Clearly, the reason that the report was withheld was because it didn't suit the philosophy that the Klein government was addressing. The New Klein government was promoting spending cuts to bring the deficit under control. Neil Reimer said the council's research shows middle-class seniors have seen their incomes cut by about 21% since 1994.

Bette Hewes tried to raise the issue during the 1993 election campaign and accused Klein of suppressing the report. Klein called her a liar at the time. She said, "To suggest that the report is simply too difficult for seniors to consume is a bit presumptuous and condescending to seniors."

Klein and his followers have spent the last 10 years thinking up ways to hurt you and the Province of Alberta. Are you hurting enough yet? Do you need more suffering, before you get the message that this government will continue to hurt you if you leave them in control of your affairs?. Your vote is the most powerful asset you have, use it to help yourself.

Separated at Birth??? 

If you have seen Ralph's World Justice Minister and Edmonton Whitemud MLA Dave Hancock lately, you may have noticed that he is sporting a fresh new hairdo. This has led some of us in Ralph's World to notice his uncanny likeness to This Hour has 22 Minutes star, Greg Thomey.

Is it just midlife? Is there a corvette or ferrari to go along with the new do? Perhaps. But maybe Dave thinks that Albertans will laugh off the Tory legacy of deregulation, high auto insurance, and cuts to education come the next election. Those zany Tories!

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