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

Friday, February 18, 2005

Alberta Goulag:Direction provided for concerns on Power Line Workers 


204 Legislature Building, 10800 - 97th Avenue N.W., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T5K 2B6

Telephone 780/427-2025 Fax 780/427-5582

February 10, 2005

Mr. John Clark
14815 - 123 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5L 2Y7

Dear Mr. Clark:

Honourable Ralph Klein, Premier, has forwarded to me your recent e-mail regarding your concern that U.S. apprentices will take jobs away from Albertans. As Minister of Advanced Education, I am pleased to respond to you.

As you have noted, the length of apprenticeship training programs vary by jurisdiction. In Canada, the power lineman (powerline technician) apprenticeship program ranges between 3.5 and 4 years in length. The length also varies throughout the United States. The Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board, which is responsible for setting training and certifìcation standards in designated trades, such as power lineman, recognizes apprenticeship programs and certification in the trades based on the similarity in course outcomes and competencies of the certificate holder.

Regarding the employment of U.S. workers, note that prior to recruiting workers from outside Canada, employers must first demonstrate strong and continued work in training Alberta apprentices, and/or recruiting available and qualitied Alberta and other Canadian tradespeople. If you would Re clarification on certitìcation and out-of-country recruitment requirements for the pewer linemen in Alberta, please contact Mr. Olie Schell, Director, Apprenticeship Initiatives at (780) 427-5735. He would be pleased to discuss any further concerns you may have.

Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns.

Yours truly,

Dave Hancock, Q.C. Minister

cc: Honourable Ralph Klein Premier

Friday, February 11, 2005

More holes in Ralph's centennial celebration! 

John Clark
14815 - 123 Ave
Edmonton, ABT5L 2Y7
February 11, 2005

Honorable Ralph Klein,
Room 307 Legislative Building,Edmonton, AB T4K 2C6

Dear Premier:

Further to your first centennial TV dog and pony show. Having time to dwell on some of your hair brained proposals I offer up the following in hope your government can catch a little direction that is sadly absent in this, our 100th year!

In response to reducing the entrance mark to be accepted for university. What would you hope to achieve by this? With an 80% acceptance mark the U of A is has one of the lowest graduating scores in the nation if not the continent. For every 100 kids that enrolled at 80% entrance marks half didn’t make it past the first year!

This is not because of their academic standing but more because of the Universities very real need to make money because of short funding and their use of the bell curve to achieve that end!. Could these kids who were forced out have made good engineers, lawyers or other professional group? The answer is yes if they were scored on their own achievement rather than the bell curve.

Your proposal to drop the entrance mark to University will result in larger starting classes and still fewer graduations with the marked difference of more money being pulled out of the population for the sole purpose of financing secondary education institutions; having nothing at all to do with individuals chances for a future.

Your myopic view of making the corporation rich, trickle down, is failing at every level! I have a letter from the Minister of Finance, Ralph Goodale who tells me Alberta is in debt to the Canada Pension Fund to the extent of 3.5 billions of dollars being bonds. Alberta has the option of paying off this debt or, rolling it over for one additional 20-year term at the same rate of interest they should pay on their other market borrowings.

Then, I have a letter from Pat Nelson saying Alberta has no intentions on taking over the Canada Pension plan and use it to finance power lines and infrastructure. A second letter from the Government of Canada speculates Alberta could not get such a royal deal as they have with the Canada Pension Plan, should Alberta try to go it alone.

Getting a good deal has never been a big priority with you. Your focus is on following a simplistic privatize everything program regardless of the cost and hurt to the population.

Do you have designs on the CPP? Is that why you don't pay it off? Most projects as we have determined are taken on with little or no firm plans or budgets in place. A disgrace!

Finally your wonderful “Water for Life” program. I agree it is good as far as you have taken it. After seeing the wholesale down hole pumping of water in northern Alberta I have to think it serves a dual purpose of being a front for a much darker agenda!

I still have received no answer regarding the sale of water rights on the East Slope of the Rockies being handled by Cardinal in a secret – not public- process.

You steadfastly refuse to change the royalty programs in this province guarding the corporate bottom line. In this case, allowing them to produce the highest profits in history while Alberta’s resources are sold off while recovering only pennies of what should belong to Albertans.

To hold an additional 15% for Albertan’s would still leave obscene profits for the oil companies. Absolute disgrace!

I think, like Kadafi of Libya you will have to hire people to celebrate with you.

John Clark

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Ralph's lonely celebration 

John Clark
14815 - 123 Ave
Edmonton, AB
T5L 2Y7
February 9, 2005
Honorable Ralph Klein,
Room 307
Legislative Building,
Edmonton, AB T4K 2C6

Dear Premier:

You are to be congratulated on the slick, well produced centennial address shown on TV Tuesday the 8th.

Without a doubt you have a firm handle on exactly what great damages you have done to this province. Sufficiently so to frighten the population of this province into some kind of major action against the conservatives. I find it necessary to rain on your parade.

Alberta is debt free. The only thing that is free is your loose use of the truth. I have a letter from the Minister of Finance, Ralph Goodale who tells me Alberta is in debt to the Canada Pension Fund to the extent of 3.5 billions of dollars. The vehicle being bonds which Alberta has bought but has not redeemed and continues to pay interest on. Alberta has the option of paying off this debt or, rolling it over for one additional 20-year term at the same rate of interest they should pay on their other market borrowings (un named).

Can you provide me with a list of “Market Borrowings”?

When you “privatized” the electricity transmission you told Albertan’s the money received from PPAs would pay for new power lines. All of these equities were moved into the “Powerpool” as outlined in last weeks ‘Journal.. The power pool has the board and the chair all appointed by the Minister of Transport, Alberta.

Then, your next slippery step was to turn the Powerpool into a private company the “Powerpool Corp.”. Away went the rest of Albertan’s equities into something that could be described as the Conservative’s personal corporation. Another give away! Definitely and strictly not owned or controlled by the taxpayers! As a kicker, you now tell Albertans that they will have to pay for all the power transmission lines. Your honesty, at a low ebb prior to the election would not allow you to put this plan straight forward to the electorate! http://ets.powerpool.ab/ and http://www.balancingpool.ca/contact.html (copy and past into your search engine)

The Alberta Electrical Service Operator (AESO) http://www.aeso.ca/ as pointed out by the Journal, buys it’s power from the Powerpool. When Genesee shuts down for 3 days the Powerpool Corp re-directects the AESO to use Cloverbar’s power.

The difference is in price in this electricity! It more than doubled! From .06 kwh to .16 per kwh; the latter being greater than what would be paid in a third world country!

My research indicates there was cheaper power available from both BC and from Saskatchewan at this time. Considering it takes 10 hours to put Cloverbar on line, I have to ask why was not the cheaper less expensive power used? There were no surprises here! Was the exercise to run some more cash into Cloverbar? Could this be still another Billions a day operation reminiscent of ENRON?

It is important to know that both plants generation is owned by the Powerpool. Are you creating the financial environment to have Albertan’s further subsidize these organizations through their power bills? All this, while the ministers stand and say “these are private companies we can’t do anything about it; market values and all that good stuff”. Trying to distance your self from the problems and rage?

You speak of freezing the tuition at secondary institutions.
You choose to ignore that these same secondary institutions were allowed to move their entrance demands higher (higher marks for entrance) in order to curtail Alberta registration so these institutions could take advantage of the higher revenue offered up by foreign and Ontario students who couldn’t find a place because Ontario graduated 2 years in 1?

On this subject what consideration have you given as to how you will get the people from rural Alberta involved? Pay their transportation; their room and board? You do appreciate only 400.00 a month of living expenses can presently be deducted from taxes in this regard?

I say to you sir, if you cared anything at all for the well being or the lack of it for the citizens of this province you would have intervened and stopped this from happening rather than encourage the practice. You would have enacted a tax deductible for books which has been long missing.

Good things in store for seniors? In your world it probably means a free bus ticket out of the province the same way we are treating other costly undesirables or perhaps the “Conservative Centennial Cook Book for Cat Food” would be more in tune with your policy; a far stretch from your media address. You stripped away senior’s support for eye glasses and limit their disposable cash to 265.00 per month, encourage divorce and legal separation for seniors as a means to get marginally better help from your Government. You answer complaints on this by saying “some people think we have a lot more money than what we have”.

I have heard nothing about indexing old age pensions the Alberta cost of living?

You promise more years of the glorious conservative plan; who can survive it?

John Clark.

Monday, February 07, 2005

An education on education costs 

Martha’s Monthly February 2005.

In the middle of January
a report was released by the Canada West Foundation about the critical shortage of skilled workers in the West. Martha heard about the report on the news and wondered aloud to Henry whether it might be the right time for her to head back to University in order to retrain for one of those skilled positions. Martha has been thinking about getting another degree ever since she finished her first one when 867-5309 was a hit song, not just a phone number.

Well Henry and Martha sat down and started to work out the finances of going back and well, frankly, she was a little shocked. There may be a skilled worker shortage but that has not lowered the tuition rates a bit. The average cost for eight months of post secondary education is $9,740. The average amount in Student Loans in this province is $4,284/year. Since 1989 student loan financing in Alberta has increased 61% while tuition rates since 1990 have increased 273%.

Martha started to wonder how any student does it. Maybe that is why that Canada West Foundation report made their first recommendation to “
increase financial resources for post-secondary education”. Just a few months ago the Calgary Chamber of Commerce released its own report about how Alberta should handle its debt free status and recommended: “To maintain its competitive advantage, Alberta must prioritize resources to provide increased access to post-secondary education…” (Read it here)

Now Martha couldn’t remember the last time she agreed with both the Canada West Foundation AND the Chamber of Commerce but it seemed there was some common ground here when it comes to the issue of financing of post secondary education. Martha decided to find out what the Alberta Government was doing about these issues and she found that t
he MLA Post-Secondary Funding Review Committee was created in March 2000 to report on post secondary funding. Their report recommended a revision of the Tuition Fee Policy that caps tuition at 30% of net operating expenses for an institution. The report points out that “many institutions are now approaching the 30% ceiling”. It goes on: “Alberta now has one of the highest average tuition fees in Canada…(and) any changes to the Tuition Fee Policy should be consistent with the government’s general accessibility strategy and be reflected in the design of its student loan, grant, and remission programs.”

Martha was pleasantly surprised to find the report was concerned about tuition increases and made it clear that increases in tuition must be met with increases in loans and grants. But it seems that this report has been shelved. What has the government done to ensure that Albertans who are qualified to attend post secondary institutions are financially able to? Well, not much. The Canadian Federation of Students collected
studies of the barriers that tuition fees create. Among the reports is one that 70% of high school graduates that did not go on to post secondary education cite financial reasons and 60% of the drop in part time students can be attributed to tuition fees.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to connect these dots. Alberta needs a skilled labour force. Students don’t attend post secondary education if tuition is too high and loans do not cover the costs. So, if we want a skilled (and educated) labour force we need to invest in their education by dropping tuition fees, increasing student loans to match the cost of living, and provide grants to students who qualify. Let’s ask our government to follow their own committee report that said as much.

Please send the following letter to Premier Klein (
premier@gov.ab.ca) and the Minister of Advanced Education Dave Hancock (edmonton.whitemud@assembly.ab.ca). CC your email to Alberta Liberal leader Kevin Taft (Edmonton.riverview@assembly.ab.ca) and Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason (newdemocrats@assembly.ab.ca and Alison.Crawford@assembly.ab.ca) as well as us at marthasmonthly@yahoo.ca.

Premier Klein

Alberta Legislature

February 8, 2005

Dear Premier Klein:

I am one of the Marthas of Martha’s Monthly and this month I am writing to you on the issue of affordable access to post secondary education. There is a significant difference between the rate of tuition increases over the last 15 years and the increases of student loans. This lack of affordability causes an alarming number of our daughters and sons to not enter post secondary education. In an economy that needs highly skilled workers the price tag of this education must be more reasonable. Alberta faces a critical shortage of skilled labourers in the coming decade so investments must be made now to allow any qualified student in Alberta to afford a post secondary education.

Please freeze tuition increases immediately and convene an All-Party Committee of MLAs to report on a reasonable tuition roll back to take effect by September 2005. Please see that student financing increases match tuition costs and the real cost of living in Alberta’s cities. These steps could form the beginning of your government’s response to industry’s concerns over critical skilled labour shortages. Lowered tuition fees would also form a wonderful cornerstone to celebrations of the Centennial this year. It would show that your government is looking forward by investing in students today.


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