Informative, enlightening, irreverent, witty, and occasionally profane, Insight has, for more than 30 years, become essential weekly reading for hundreds of people working in and around government in Alberta.
The secret of being miserable is to have leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not.
To many in the conservative camp, it had, in the final weeks of the election, appeared certain that their guy would score the winning touchdown. Calgary mayoral candidate Bill Smith, 54, corporate lawyer, past Progressive Conservative party president, former firefighter, former … football star, had a well-organized campaign team, the support of the business community, and (covertly) the backing of the Calgary Flames organization. He’d raised enough campaign money from developers and other businesses disgusted with the incumbent to run television ads, paper the town with signs and flyers, and employ an accomplished campaign team. We heard he raised a million bucks.
He wasn’t blue Calgary’s first choice. That honour went to Michelle Rempell, the feisty federal Conservative MP who’d got into an on-line pissing match with Mayor Naheed Nenshi in the spring, and seemed the perfect foil for the purple princeling whose arrogance was beginning to annoy Calgary’s mature population almost as much the escalations in the business and residential taxes. But Rempel decided she could live with the CPC’s newly chosen leader, after all, and bowed out, leaving Smith, the backup quarterback, to take the ball.
He wasn’t the ideal candidate. Unversed in the minutiae of civic affairs, unused to political debate, and often flubbing his facts, Smith relied on generic conservative messaging—lower taxes, smaller gov’t, fiscal discipline—without adding much that was insightful, new, or different. There would be no hail-Mary passes. Nonetheless, his was an unflappable and solid presence…
After almost a year of travelling the province and listening to hundreds of submissions from provincial and local politicians, assorted interest groups, and concerned voters, the Electoral Boundaries Commission has produced its final recommendations on the rearrangement of Alberta’s 87 ridings for the next general election. With a few exceptions, the final recommendations are much the same as those in the interim report released in late May (Insight, June 2).
But this time there will be no further opportunity for outside input and legislation in the fall sitting (starting Oct. 30), which will cast them in stone for the next eight to ten years.At a press conference on Thursday, Chief Commissioner Myra Bielby, the Alberta Court of Appeal judge, flanked by her four fellow commissioners, explained again the reasoning behind the changes to the electoral map, which will see three more urban ridings and—to the chagrin of the United Conservative Party, which rules the ruralities—three fewer seats in the sticks. Was this a gerrymander by a commission in which three of the five members, including Bielby, were chosen by the gov’t? Not necessarily.
Because Alberta’s population had grown by 14% since the 2010 redistribution, and because almost all of that growth was in the urban centres, many of the suburban ridings were far bigger than the current provincial average of 44,697