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Ric Dolphin is president of Dolphin Media, Inc. and the editor and publisher of Insight into Government, a weekly newsletter available by subscription. He reports on Alberta political affairs from the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton, AB, Canada.

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  • Jun 25 - Jul 1 CANADA WEEK
    Various events leading up to and celebrating Canada’s sesquicentennial will be taking place in and around the Legislature and the Federal building, including an outdoor concert by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra on Sunday evening, with lunch time music and dance performances through the week. On Canada Day, the usual July 1 events will take place at the Legislature (pancake breakfast, citizenship court, Leg. open house, the firing of big guns, various music and dance in the band shell, fireworks at 11 pm), with an added stage in Capital Plaza, west of the Federal Building, featuring some better known acts (incl. Captain Tractor, the McDades), and an “Indigenous Showcase” on the west lawn with teepees, storytelling, dance, and songs. The welcoming ceremony, with speeches by the Premier and other leaders, starts at noon on the front steps of the Leg. For the full schedule go to:
    PC Leader Jason Kenney will be holding four more of his Unity Town Halls-cum-leadership rallies (anticipating a yes vote for the United Conservative Party on July 22). Monday at the Days Inn in Lloydminster at 6:30 pm; Tuesday at noon at the Camrose Resort Casino, and at 8 pm at the Radisson Hotel in Red Deer; and Thursday at 8 pm at the Glenmore Inn in Calgary. For more info and to RSVP:

This Week's Get a free sample

Week ending June 24th, 2017 Vol 31, No 38

NEW BEGINNINGS — (L) Former Edmonton Mayor and PC cabinet minister Stephen Mandel addresses the "Alberta Together" crowd in Red Deer on Saturday, flanked by (l-r) PAC executive director Katherine O'Neill, deep-pocketed donor Brian Heidekker, Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark, and failed Alberta Liberal leadership candidate Kerry Cundal.
Canada is the only country in the world that knows how to live without an identity.
Herbert Marshall McLuhan (1911-80), Canadian philosopher

Inside this week

The Alberta Party gets the lead in the latest unity play
The political strategy behind the NDP's handing out of chump change
BC Premier Christy Clark's futile attempt to save her ass
AIMCo's two new board hires confound opposition expectations

Top Story

Barely has a day gone by in the last six months that the Notley gov’t has not announced a handout of cash to some group or another­—almost always accompanied by a photo-op-friendly press conference with a politically correct backdrop (dark female faces front and centre, a solar-panelled roof in the middle distance). And more often than not the amount of cash handed out is, relative to the $55B budget and $10B deficit, chump change.

We’re not saying that this gov’t, like the web-footed Tories before it, doesn’t hand out its share of big lumps of cash for major, usually necessary, and often politically rewarding, infrastructure projects­—roads & bridges, LRT lines, schools, medical facilities, sewage treatment plants, etc. Transportation & Infrastructure Minister Brian Mason, is the most popular NDP cabinet member, certainly in the rural areas, not just for his rumpled amiability and sardonic humor, but for his largesse with things made from concrete, steel, and asphalt. (Climate-change contributors, alas. Where are the hemp highways and the electric semis? One weeps for the planet… We digress.)

And Mason is not only the gatekeeper of the largest capital …

Political Pulse

About 350 middle-of-the-roaders showed up in the halfway city of Red Deer Saturday for what might, but then again might not, mark the beginning of a major­—but moderate­—political force. “Alberta Together,” was the name given to this gathering of the reasonable, who came in three liberal flavours: actual Alberta Liberals, Alberta Party members, and red Tory refugees fleeing the Kenney regime.

Alberta Together is also the name of the political action committee (PAC), founded by Stephen Mandel, former Edmonton Mayor, short-lived Prentice cabinet minister, and disaffected Tory. The PAC will be raising money and “promoting political engagement” by centrists through the summer.

Mandel, 71, looking tanned, fit, and­—as always—slightly irritated, gave a nice short speech towards the end of the four-hour conclave: “I can’t thank you all enough for being here today to begin to start a great future for the province of Alberta. It’s a very exciting time, it’s a very dangerous time, and, I think for all the people in this room, a great opportunity.”Mandel and a dozen or so former PC MLAs and cabinet ministers, including Doug Griffiths, Stephen Khan, Heather Klimchuk, Dave Coutts, and Ron Casey, were part of the estimated 50% of the audience who are, or were, Tory members…