Overcoming adversity

The 16th and arguably one of the greatest Presidents of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, is well known for his notable quotes. One such quote has always stood out as a measure of leadership.

“Nearly all men can stand the test of adversity, but if you really want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

With the unification of the two Alberta provincial conservative parties, there have been some rough spots! The vote to achieve a unification result was met with highly motivated member participation and a high degree of acceptance with an overwhelming 95% approval from both legacy parties.

Recently, it’s been reported in the Drumheller Stettler constituency, that the local candidate nomination committee felt it appropriate to have only two polling stations based on the geography of the riding. Feedback I received throughout the riding was opposed to this limited access to polling. After significant input, I was informed that we will now have 6 Polling stations in Provost, Coronation, Stettler, Drumheller, Oyen and Hanna.

In the second largest rural riding in the province, I too, felt it unconscionable that there would be unachievable time allocations and distance constraints for UCP members that wished to cast a ballot. In the past, I have explained how unintended consequences can be created by a lack of consideration. One such unintended consequence in this case would be the public perception and bevy of interesting questions pertaining to polling.

How could it be that in the “Drumheller Stettler” constituency there would be no polling stations in either Drumheller or Stettler? Doesn’t it seem unusual that there would not be polling stations in either of the two largest population centers in the riding? Not to mention neglecting the towns that the constituency is named after??

It raises even more questions, considering the local CA has the financial stability to allow them to have various polling locations throughout the riding. On a shoestring budget, the 2011 edition of the Wildrose Constituency Association had member voting in six different locations, in what was then a smaller constituency in both landmass and population.

For some members wishing to exercise their democratic right to vote, they will be facing even further adversity as a result of the nomination process being initiated during what is traditionally prairie harvest time. The timing being in the middle of harvest also adversely affects the ability for a significant portion of those wishing to vote to do so; as does the scheduled polling time-constraints that many members will be limited by.

All of the above aside, Albertans have historically overcome challenges and more often than not, they use the democratic power they have to be successful over the adversity they face. It’s how our province became one of the greatest places in the world to live. It’s the successful attitude that pervades here and it’s the fabric of who we are!

Most importantly, take the time to get out and vote on Sept. 27th in Provost and Coronation, on Sept. 28th in Stettler and Drumheller, and on Sept 29th in Oyen and Hanna. Exercise your democratic right to show who possesses the power!

Do your part in making Alberta great again and bring back the Alberta Advantage!!

Being prepared

The knowledge a person has comes from real life experiences that can’t be replicated in any other way. As a young boy I was involved in Scouts and came away with some very valuable lessons that I still use to this day, most notably was the Scouting motto, “Be Prepared.”

The learning curve of life continues beyond our days in school and follows us through virtually every real life experience we have. Ultimately, there is no better educational ground than that of ‘hands on’ life experiences.

Six years ago, I set out on a great learning experience that the constituents of Drumheller Stettler were so gracious to bestow upon me. The political education I’ve received has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and I thank each and every one of you for the privilege of being your representative in the Alberta Legislature.

While the educational component is important, I also view my time in office as an investment by the taxpayers. The important decision to seek the nomination for the United Conservative Party in Drumheller Stettler in order to run in the next provincial election was driven more by a need to give the constituents of Drumheller Stettler a return on their investment rather than a career move.

Going towards the next provincial election one thing is abundantly clear; to repair the damage done to Alberta by the NDP, we will need to most certainly be prepared and have all experienced hands on deck. If the United Conservative Party earns the right to be government in Alberta, the caucus may be comprised mostly of inexperienced MLA’s that will have a sharp learning curve that every new MLA faces.

In order for a UCP government to hit the ground running and gain back the advantage we all once knew in Alberta, every ounce of legislative experience we can muster will be needed. That is why I am offering my experience and integrity for another term. Every good or bad experience is a kind of education; some of those experiences are unique and simply cannot be duplicated in a classroom.

The unique education that I have gained over my time in the Alberta Legislature is as valuable as the education I gained while engaging in positive activism as a private citizen. Throughout my entire life, I have been a strong advocate for positive agricultural development that is spurred by incentive, rather than corporate welfare or ‘special’ hand-outs.

Facilitating sound economic development and wealth creation is something that I strongly believe is more fruitful when it is done legislatively or through policies that create positive market opportunities. The move away from government picking winners and losers is something that will also eliminate selective funding to support special interests and the entitled.

As we approach the next provincial election the focus for all of us should be, to learn from Alberta’s recent past, set a new course, and most importantly, use our depth of experience to make the changes necessary to bring back the Alberta Advantage!

It’s a serious responsibility

The freedom Canadians enjoy came at a cost, a cost that is often overlooked. Many young Canadians paid the ultimate price so that you have the ability to choose who acts in your best interests, in the different levels of government that ultimately affect your life directly. Many view their ability to vote as a right rather than the duty and responsibility we owe to those that fought for us to have this great privilege.

In the next year many serious political decisions have to be made by Albertans.  These are decisions that will best be made from a point of knowledge rather than emotion and self interest. Going forward, we are faced with a very rough road that is paved with poor legislation and ill-advised policies, at the hands of the current NDP government.

The role we all play in democracy is as important as the roles we play in life. Some feel that their vote doesn’t matter and that it won’t make a bit of difference; nothing could be further from the truth! Your vote is only part of the equation that is merely the final action of a process. The process begins with educating yourself on the issues that matter to the larger picture that you are a part of.

Your opinion does matter and you need to express it! It has been my goal from the beginning of my first term in office to make myself available to the people I swore to represent. That still stands today, if you have a political issue you feel strongly about please do not hesitate to reach out to me through my campaign manager Lorne (403) 819-4170, regardless of your political affiliation.

The decisions we make or don’t make today can have long lasting and sometimes profound consequences for all of us. Statistics reveal that the decision to take part in our democratic process is often taken for granted. In Alberta’s last provincial election 53% of those eligible voted, meaning that 47% did not participate in a decision that directly affects their everyday life¹.

The United Conservative party has opened the nomination contest in the Drumheller Stettler riding. This is part of the democratic process that decides which candidate will represent the party in the next provincial election. The nomination is yet another way that you can be a part of the democratic process that decides the direction Alberta will go.

The decision to partake in yet another nomination was made without hesitation. The constituents of Drumheller Stettler have invested 6 years in my political education; it’s time for me to put that education to good use on your behalf. The road will be rough but I hope to make it just a little bit smoother by drawing on my experience to help get Alberta back the advantage we once had.

In past columns I have talked about consequences, some intended, some unintended. It’s important that when we vote we consider that what we do often has consequences that go far into the future and many extend beyond our time. It’s a serious responsibility.

¹ http://officialresults.elections.ab.ca/orResultsPGE.cfm?EventId=31

 

It’s time for Grassroots democracy

The United Conservative Party has opened the nomination contest in the riding of Drumheller Stettler. The exact dates for the close of membership sales and voting dates and locations have not been confirmed.

A nomination process is when a party has an internal constituency election to determine who will be the candidate for the next provincial election. Voting takes place at predetermined locations over a short period of time to ensure that all members have an equal opportunity to exercise their democratic right to vote.

Since the adjournment of the Legislature on June 7th my campaign team and I have been widely traveling the constituency selling memberships and letting people know that in order for us to continue the work we have been doing for the last 6 years we must be successful in the current nomination.

With harvest getting into full swing this is perhaps not the most opportune time to be holding an event that requires members to take time away but we will try to give you the information in the timeliest fashion so arrangements can be made to participate in the voting.

In October of 2011 I was nominated as the candidate for the Wildrose party, during that nomination contest there were 6 polls or nomination events (Stettler, Castor, Consort, Oyen, Drumheller and Hanna) where members could go and easily cast their ballot. With the expansion of the riding we anticipate that there will be additional polls/events added to the list of locations, likely in Provost and/or Acadia Valley.

This internal party process can be rather confusing because it does not determine who will be the MLA after the next provincial election is called; this process determines which person will have their name on the ballot for the United Conservative Party. The UCP believes that the grassroots, the rank and file members, should determine who their candidate will be as opposed to a top down selection being made by the management of the party.

This is an important time for you as an Albertan to get involved in the process of deciding who you believe will best represent you and your values in the Alberta Legislature. As the dates move closer we will do our best to reach out to all members and constituents of the Drumheller Stettler riding to keep you informed. You can reach out through my Facebook page if there are any questions you have.

In the meantime, we will continue to sell memberships, knock on doors and answer questions to anyone interested in having a democratic say in the nomination race and build a solid base of supporters.

Thank you to everyone who has purchased a membership in the new Drumheller Stettler riding. If you have not yet and would like to become a member you can reach us at LorneMurfitt@telus.net or 403-819-4170, Lorne Murfitt.

 

It’s who you know, not what you know

An “old boys club” is an informal closed loop system by which money and power are retained by those who are politically connected or through incestuous business relationships that benefit a select few. It isn’t necessarily purposeful or malicious but the “club” can prevent ambitious people who are not connected to the network from success in spite of how hard they work.

The term “old boys club” originates from the British civil service who would rarely open opportunities to those who were not lifelong associates of the inner circle they’d known from their earliest days. The phrase “its’ not what you know, it’s who you know” is attributed to that repressive old boys club tradition , born out of the small inner circle of special interest and selfishness.

In modern days it is not gender specific, however these arrangements still entail establishing mutually advantageous relationships much of the time with little more than a wink and a nod. These are arrangements from which perceived outsiders are excluded and thus not privy to the truly serious business transactions or conversations.

It’s always been my belief that Alberta needs a clear vision for the future. The way forward is aimless if the path is without a principled growth oriented course that benefits everyone. Recently, Alberta has been wandering through a maze of aimless misdirection and unpleasant financial surprises such as the govts tax on everything, affectionately called a carbon tax.

So who does a carbon tax help? (Since being implemented on January 1st of 2017 not one shred of quantifiable evidence has been presented to the Albertans it claims to benefit.)?? Typically when an opposition member broaches the subject of accountability of the carbon tax we’re met with ridicule and name calling from government Ministers. Judging by what we’ve seen in the Legislature, any questions that challenge the accountability of the carbon tax, without fail, elicits a reaction from the Premier and her Ministers that reminiscent of a dentist finding a raw nerve without anesthetic.

The benefits of the carbon tax that the NDP claim appear to be reserved for the people in their very own old boy’s club. The NDP’s favorite Oilsands advisory appointee and radical environmentalist, Tzeporah Berman most certainly gained financially from whom she knew to the tune of about $23,000; a transaction that saw Alberta get nothing for the investment. Her recommendations were little more than a reiteration of her continuous calls for the Oilsands to be shut down, completely regardless of the economic calamity it would cause to Alberta’s economy. Considering the source, this begs the question, what were they expecting her to recommend?

In Hanna, the shut down of Alberta’s coal industry is turning out to be yet another example of how who you know can reap substantial benefit for the few while the many pay the price. Unfortunately for average Albertans we know that this rushed and needless early conversion away from coal will come at an unreasonable cost, but it isn’t what we know that matters, it’s who we know.

 

The consequence of poor decisions

 

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Better known as “Newton’s Third Law,” it relates to the motion when one body exerts a force on a second body; the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude in the opposite direction to the first body. Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law was the discovery that no action was immune from an equal and opposite reaction. A mathematician and physicist, Newton’s formulas presented conclusive evidence that the energy did not simply just dissipate.

Like motion, incompetence is an action that comes with its share of equal and opposite reactions. Albertans are living the equal and opposite reactions set in motion by both the federal and provincial government’s attempt to tax Canada and Alberta into prosperity.

Alberta’s Carbon Tax has seen its share of opposite reactions from investors and businesses alike. Its little wonder there would be a negative reaction to an additional cost that creates an uncompetitive burden for Alberta businesses. With the carbon tax added to their input costs Alberta businesses face a disadvantage when competing with companies from other jurisdictions that have not jump on the carbon tax bandwagon.

To make matters worse, the Prime Minister and his Ministers have taken to Twitter in a hap-hazard attempt to embarrass our foreign trading partners. This careless and ill-advised attempt at foreign policy through social media seems to have done just that; unfortunately, the reaction is not exactly what they bargained for.

The Prime Minister is engaging in antagonistic activities these days, purely for political points and it’s backfiring. His government’s latest foray with the Saudi Arabian government could potentially have very serious consequences for many Canadian agricultural producers and other industries; which was obviously not considered before pressing send to a poorly composed post on Twitter.

As we’ve seen time and again, poorly made and executed decisions come at a price. The consequences of poor decisions in government always land at the feet of the taxpayer, the consumer, and the end user; in other words, the unsuspecting Canadian families. In life, consequences are the reaction to poor decisions, which is something Alberta is all too familiar with these days. With foreign trade having taken another serious hit, it is ordinary Canadians that ultimately pay the price of the poor decisions made.

Albertans have learned some expensive but valuable lessons over the last three years. We’ve learned that when you put an unnecessary tax in motion, the reaction is an exodus to jurisdictions with lower taxation. We’ve also learned that successful foreign trade and international relations are not achieved on social media.

NDP Missing the Big Picture on Trans Mountain!

Stuart Taylor is a former Municipal Councilor for the town of Hinton and currently seeking the Nomination for the UCP candidacy the West Yellowhead riding.

Sometimes in our haste to celebrate or feel good about something, we can occasionally miss seeing the bigger picture. Eric Rosendahl certainly seems to have been suffering from this condition when he penned his recent letter to the editor.

Rosendahl celebrates the fact that governments are spending billions on a pipeline that a private company, Kinder Morgan, was perfectly willing to build with its own money, apart from even a dime from taxpayers. How can Rosendahl consider a taxpayer expenditure of multi-billions for such an arrangement a victory? The only thing Kinder Morgan wanted were rules they could trust and assurances that governments would enforce existing laws. They didn’t get it, so Notley and Trudeau wanted to buy the pipeline.

Albertans know that these past few years Rachel Notley has panned or carelessly shrugged at major energy projects that failed, and she has also failed to support the industry by speaking up when she should. She instead prefers to talk about purchasing a social license with our tax money. Did Rachel Notley and Mr. Rosendahl fight for Northern Gateway? Energy East? Were they defending the industry and Alberta jobs when they were hiking taxes and increasing odious regulations?

Many oil and gas investors are avoiding Alberta and Canada because Notley and Rosendahl, along with their ally Justin Trudeau, have made it unattractive. A headline in this week’s Edmonton Journal states: “resource sector under legislative assault.”

Another newspaper commentary this week by Ron Wallace and the much-respected economist Jack Mintz, states that “Government regulation is going to put the energy industry into the ground.”

Wallace and Mintz also point out that while U.S. capital spending in oil and gas increased 38% during 2017 alone, Canadian investment declined 56% over three years (from $81 billion to $45 billion in 2017). Additionally, $89

billion of Canadian energy projects have been cancelled or abandoned (due to government regulation and bureaucratic interference) and there has been another $27 billion in energy sector divestments. Energy investors are fleeing, while governments with tax dollars buy pipelines, and MLA Rosendahl thinks this is something to celebrate?

Since 2015, Alberta’s NDP government has increased corporate income taxes by 20%, implemented a multi-million-dollar carbon tax and introduced a new slate of environmental regulations that will effectively cap oil sands production.

Alberta’s energy investment climate now rates far behind the levels of previous years. Not long ago we ranked 14th world wide out of 156 jurisdictions. By 2017 Alberta fell to 33rd of 97 jurisdictions—well behind competitors. Texas boasts the most attractive energy investment climate in the world; Oklahoma is second; North Dakota is third. The energy investment rating in both Saskatchewan and Newfoundland is well above Alberta. They are both in the top ten worldwide.

The point is, that perhaps Mr. Rosendahl and our provincial government should consider spending less time with sod turning photo-ops, and writing self-congratulatory letters, and instead work to improve Alberta’s regulatory, taxation, and investment climate.

Stuart Taylor, Hinton

The façade of special interest

To say that the political landscape in Alberta has been obscured in recent years would be an understatement, to say the least! Since the 2015 provincial election, Albertans have watched as the provincial government has systematically attempted to dismantle the foundation of our economy and our culture. Fortunately, Albertans are seeing that the socialist utopia façade that has failed repeatedly isn’t for them. After consulting with many of the constituents of Drumheller-Stettler, it is clear that they simply are not interested in a promise of another incarnation of that utopian façade for special interest.

Stepping back and viewing things from a different perspective often gives us a view of our surroundings that contradicts the hands of misdirection that tells a different story. Free from the encumbrances of the hand of misdirection, a clearer picture emerges.

Recently, I was invited as a guest to the Filcan basketball tournament hosted by members of the Philippine community in Drumheller. The 4 teams from Stettler, Hanna, Three Hills, and Drumheller played some spirited games and provided the large crowd with some great entertainment. What caught my attention was the pride the players and fans; many of them having chosen Canada as their home, had as they stood to honour our flag and country prior to the commencement of the tournament.

The perspective of a new Canadian that respectfully appreciates all Alberta and Canada has to offer and stands for, cannot be swayed by the misdirection of the power-hungry. They came to Alberta from thousands of miles away and made that choice specifically over any other destination. They chose this spot on the globe over all others because it offers a quality of life that surpasses other options offered anywhere else in the world. However, obviously the Alberta government does not share that sentiment. What other reason could they have for wanting to change our lifestyle, culture, and economy so drastically?

When you’re standing for our national anthem with new Canadians who appreciate Alberta; it has a profound effect on your perspective. The perspective gained allows a clearer picture to come into focus; a picture that illustrates that sometimes all is not what it appears to be.

Politics attracts special interest groups that are intent on imposing legislation or policy that accommodates for the minority rather than the majority. Albertans have watched as small ideologically motivated groups have continued to obscure the real picture of why so many people strive to get to Canada and then want to make it their home.

There is no disputing that we can always improve and should always try to improve, but to hastily impose changes that fundamentally change our society is not in the best interests of the majority. The energy industry, which is the bedrock of Alberta’s economy, is the target of the job-killing carbon tax that has chased away untold investment and jobs from this province. Time and again we see that the carbon tax is rooted in the dogma of special interest groups that are intent on forcing an ideology on the masses under the guise of a utopian façade.

Like many of my new Canadian friends, we want a return to the Alberta that works for the majority, not special interests.

 

 

Western pride

Hall of Fame major league baseball executive and player Branch Rickey, who is best known for breaking the colour barrier by signing super stars Jackie Robinson and drafting Roberto Clemente; the first Black and Hispanic players in the major leagues. He was also credited with the development of baseballs minor league system and also for introducing the batting helmet. His success as a player was limited, but as an Executive for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Brooklyn Dodgers, his teams won eight pennants and three World Series.

Rickey the innovative and trail blazer was known for his intellect and some timeless quotes that some still refer to as “Rickeyisms”. One of his more notable quips recognized the importance of what we contribute rather than what we take away;

It is not the honour that you take with you, but the heritage you leave behind.

As Albertans we are very proud of our unique western heritage and culture and across the province we celebrate the heritage that makes this Alberta. The Calgary Stampede is most certainly one of the greatest shows on earth, but it also serves as an example of Albertans celebrating our proud heritage with the world.

While at some of the celebrations in Calgary celebrating the spirit of the Stampede, a good friend in town for the Stampede, took notice of that pride that Albertans have in our home and in our heritage. Visiting from Ontario, my friend couldn’t help but notice how Albertans tend to wear their heritage on their sleeves with pride. The closest event Ontario has to the Stampede is the Canadian National Exhibition, that is more of a reflection of the growth in diversity and innovation though agriculture and technology.

At the recent Oyen BullaRama, Alberta’s rural pride was on full display in a celebration of our heritage that was left behind by those who built Alberta. Albertans generally are not boastful but steadfast in their acknowledgement of the provinces historical development. Agriculture and its contributions to the province’s heritage is the foundation for a lot of the culture that exists to this day.

One of my duties as your MLA is to attend celebrations like the BMO Family Farm awards that recognize the legacy left behind by those who came before us. We’ve come a long way in methods of agricultural production and amounts produced, at times under adverse conditions, but the selfless commitment lives on. As the names are read at the Farm Awards, it’s hard not to think about the contributions to our heritage that many of the early settlers made, whose names we may never know.

Although not everyone that contributed to Alberta’s heritage is honoured, they left a legacy behind that is still a part of our identity and our heritage that is every bit as important as those made by people we mention by name.

Often times I’m tempted to communicate the pride rural folks have in Alberta, but I usually end up with a lump in my throat. It is with great pleasure that we congratulate our Family Farm Awards recipients: the Hutchings Family, the Sharpe Family, and the Duque Family, on their milestones.

Waving the white flag on capitalism

With all the rhetoric and all their ballyhoo, the Alberta Government has yet to see any major construction being done on the Trans Mountain Pipeline. In a breakdown of the free enterprise system the government of Alberta joined the government of Canada in waving the white flag on free enterprise and capitalism, by announcing taxpayers would now be on the hook for the pipeline.

Albertans are not the only taxpayers in this country that benefit from our energy industry. Revenues from Alberta’s oil and gas industries are responsible for directly and indirectly funding everything from schools and hospitals to roads and infrastructure throughout Canada.

Canadian energy is subject to some of the most stringent regulations anywhere in the world, yet it is vilified by special interest groups that have ulterior motives. Groups connected to interests that have a financial stake in the industry have had the ear of our provincial and federal governments from the beginning. Under the guise of environmental concerns, they protest and block projects vital to our national economy, yet they show no opposition to foreign oil landing on our shores.

The Premier repeatedly claims to be in favour of Alberta energy but yet continues to have one of its most ardent critics sitting on her front bench as a Minister in her government. Regardless of how you do the math on her choice of Environment Minister, the numbers simply do not add up.

The current Alberta Environment Minister co-wrote the foreword for the 2004 book “An Action a Day Keeps Global Capitalism Away” by Mike Hudema. Hudema lead a protest for Greenpeace who just last week, along with several other protestors, suspended themselves from a Vancouver bridge in an attempt to block the shipment of Canadian oil. The anti-Alberta energy policies and actions by the Alberta government speak louder than their words.

Their continued penalization of the hydrocarbon based energy industry through taxation and policies has had a very profound negative effect on our economy. Their words say success but the results speak volumes and tell a much different story. Investment has been leaving Alberta at an unprecedented rate and yet the Premier and her Finance Minister continue to claim success that just isn’t there.

A government’s role is to advocate for the best interests of the people they govern. With their legislative power, the Premier and her government appear to begrudge Albertans who have achieved financial success. Kinder Morgan was fully prepared to put thousands of Canadians to work and facilitate the generation of much needed revenues with a pipeline, but because of a number of bad decisions and poor policies capitalism has waved the white flag.

There are times when the government should act and then there are times when the government should properly; get out of the way of industry; and this was one of those times. The Trans Mountain pipeline should have started long ago; instead we’ve seen unlawful delays and regulatory roadblocks that are going to have negative effects on our economy for some time.

What Albertans and Canadians want to know is, when will the pipeline be built?