Thursday, December 31, 2009

My History with the Alberta Liberal Party - Part IV

March 1989 to July 1992

I was heavily involved in Party organization during this period but the dramatic news that Sheldon had cancer overrode all else. We were out for supper with our Viet Namese friends late October 1991. This was the family that Sheldon sponsored from Viet Nam to Canada some years earlier.

Sheldon had been in Lethbridge playing hockey and dropped in on his way back home. He complained about feeling exhausted and said he was going to the doctor the next day for a check-up. Unfortunately, the cancer was diagnosed and that began a long arduous battle for Sheldon because he never took on anything lightly.

I saw him twice during the battle, once when Harold Finkleman and I infiltrated the Foothills Hospital against Sheldon’s orders and last on Christmas Eve 1991 when Nora and I and our house guests walked from our house to Sheldon’s and sang Christmas carols outside his door. I remember seeing him struggle to the door with his friend and caregiver, Susan Matheny. He was attached to an intravenous. I will always remember his smile that night.

Sheldon passed January 26th, 1992 and his death created a major void in Alberta politics, both ethics and intelligence suffered dramatically.

Calgary Buffalo was left without its MLA and under the laws of the Legislature they had to call a by-election within 6 months. While Sheldon was almost impossible to replace I met with Gary Dickson and we convinced each other to run, he as the candidate and I as the manager. This was my 3rd Calgary Buffalo campaign and I was determined to win for Gary and of course for Sheldon.

The by-election was called for July 21st, 1992. The Tories threw Rod Love at us as their candidate, hoping to join his master in Edmonton. Although having known Rod I’m not sure who the master was, he or Ralph. The NDP countered with Elaine Husband and very nasty negative campaigning taught to them by Ontario organizers.

The voters knew better, recognizing the talent of Dickson and the memory of Sheldon, they returned a Liberal MLA with more than 50% of the total vote. We used a slogan, “Give Getty a wake-up call”, copied by the Wildrose in the recent Glenmore by-election. Husband was a distance 2nd and Rod Love barely limped into 3rd place. I had beaten Rod Love twice, 1989 and this by-election.

Voters always know best...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My History with the Alberta Liberal Party - Part III

May 1986 to March 1989

After the ’86 election I took a new position with Schlumberger and set about getting comfortable with the new job. However, always engaged in politics, I became President of the constituency and put an organization in place.

I also managed a municipal by-election for Yvonne Fritz in Ward 5 against Jon Havelock. We lost a very close race by 200 votes after Havelock misrepresented the approval of a new school in Falconbridge. I worked with Fritz again in the Municipal General Election in 1988 when she won the seat in Ward 5. The hope was that she would eventually run for the Liberals as she expressed to her friend, Karen Gainer. However, Fritz took the all too familiar route through the Tories in the ’93 provincial election, winning handily.

I then worked with Sheldon Chumir’s Leadership in the ’88 ALP Leadership campaign. Sheldon dropped out after 73 days when he realized he would win the race and did not want the position of Leader because he wanted to focus on policy for the Party. After Sheldon resigned I went over to the Mitchell campaign and after Decore’s win I went to work to support Lawrence.

In the ’88 federal election I worked with the NDP candidate, Elaine Husband for the following reasons;
1. Only 66 people showed up to vote at the Liberal nomination.
2. The pro-life candidate received 34 votes and the openly gay man received 32 votes.
3. I can work with a gay man but not a pro-life man.

The PCs won but we came second increasing the vote and the Liberal was 4th after the Reform candidate.

The ‘89 provincial election was held on March 20th, 1989 and once again I managed Sheldon’s campaign. Many political observers were surprised by the early election call - less than three years had passed since the previous election.

The Tories threw $75,000.00 at Kate Thrasher and gave her a campaign team involving Rod Love and some conservative lawyers to defeat Sheldon. I was somewhat concerned after finding out how badly they wanted to beat us and finding our first hand how the Conservatives could not tolerate opposition, even the likes of Sheldon.

Sheldon on the other hand was quite relaxed. The doors where constantly giving him good news, we had in excess of 600 volunteers and great voter identification. Sheldon won easily with 61% of the vote.

Premier Don Getty, in his second election as Progressive Conservative Party leader, led it to its sixth consecutive term in government, despite losing a significant share of the popular vote and two seats in the legislature, including his own seat of Edmonton-Whitemud to Liberal candidate Percy Wickman.

The New Democratic Party led by Ray Martin largely held its share of the popular vote, and also its 16 seats in the legislature.

The Liberal Party, under new leader Laurence Decore, was the principal beneficiary of the voters' continuing distrust of Don Getty. The Liberals' share of the popular vote increased to over 28%, more than the NDP, but the party's legislative caucus increased from four to only eight members.

Tough to figure, perhaps the brand needs a makeover...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My History with the Alberta Liberal Party - Part II

November 1982 to May 1986

After the experience of the 1982 election I went about getting involved in various levels of government including municipal, provincial and federal.

I was very much interested in the closure of public schools and the Provincial Government’s attack on public school funding in general. This led me to education activism which changed my life because it was through this activism that I met Sheldon Chumir and his organization; Save Public Education (SPE).

I was advised that he would be good council with respect to public education matters so I walked up to his house on the cliff overlooking Cliff Bungalow and we talked for hours about public education philosophy and found we were in accord.

I volunteered on the Karen Gainer federal campaign in Calgary Centre and witnessed the blood bath of the ’84 election when the Federal Liberals were reduced to 40 seats under John Turner.

In September 1985 I contemplated running provincially but that all changed when Sheldon contacted me, told me he wanted to run in the next election and asked me to be his campaign manager. It did not take much time to agree to the request because I held Sheldon in such high regard.

The only decision was the choice of constituencies; Calgary Elbow, where he lived or Calgary Buffalo, where he was born and raised. The decision was enhanced when we were advised by senior Tories that they would fight us in Elbow but support us in Buffalo. The Buffalo campaign started with a nomination meeting in the fall of 1985 held at the Kerby Centre.

However, before we arrived at a nomination meeting we had to fight the constituency association. They did not want an outsider running in Calgary Buffalo. Imagine a group of so-called Liberals not wanting Sheldon as a candidate.

We started working immediately after the nomination putting in place the campaign. We knew we would have to work very hard to win because we had only 8% name recognition going in and there had not been a provincial Liberal elected since 1969.

This was the campaign that introduced me to the power of Ruth Huber. Ruth had looked after Sheldon’s mother and came to the campaign at the right time to manage the canvass. She has run every canvass for me since and anyone who has worked with and for Ruth will certainly understand why.

The election was held on May 8th, 1986 and we received more than 52% of the vote and defeated the PC candidate, Brian Lee quite handily thanks to the prestige and work ethic of Sheldon. A tremendous outcome since we did not run a candidate in the ’82 election in Buffalo. Four Liberals representing 12% of the popular vote, were elected; Sheldon, the only Liberal in Calgary, Grant Mitchell, Nick Taylor and Bettie Hewes.

The New Democratic Party, now led by Ray Martin, was able to make itself the focus of opposition to the PC government, winning almost 30% of the vote, and sixteen seats in the legislature (up from two in the 1982 election.)

The election of a 22-member opposition to Alberta's legislature signals for the first time since 1971 a significant competitive voice to the dominant Conservative Party in that province's voting citizenship. However, only 47% of eligible voters cast a ballot.

And so it goes...

My History with the Alberta Liberal Party - Part I

September 1982 to November 1982

I was born in Halifax to liberal-thinking parents and raised by a mother who taught us equality of race, gender and sexuality and therefore I felt most comfortable with the Liberal Party when I began my participation in politics.

My father was in the Canadian military and we were transferred to Winnipeg in 1959, where I lived until my move to Calgary. My participation in politics began in 1968 after listening to Trudeau speak in South Winnipeg and getting hooked by the man and the message.

I worked on several campaigns in Winnipeg prior to coming to Calgary and it was quite natural for me to get engaged as soon as I could after arriving in Calgary. In Winnipeg politics was fun and you could change Governments because people were engaged in the process.

I arrived in Calgary September 27th, 1982, unloaded my belongings into the house we rented at 2106 Hope Street in Mount Royal and after a few days getting settled I discovered there was a provincial election in progress with E-day November 2, 1982. I went next door, blithely introduced myself as a Liberal and asked the person at the door who the Liberal candidate was. To my ultimate surprise I discovered that he was the candidate, John Webb, a Calgary lawyer. I offered my assistance but advised I could not vote since I was not in Alberta in the proper time frame prior to the November 2nd writ.

Then the shock of Alberta Liberal politics unfolded. John was poorly supported with no Party infrastructure and infinitely less voter support producing a dismal outcome.

Less than four years had passed since the Progressive Conservatives won their landslide victory in 1979. Premier Peter Lougheed decided to call a snap election to catch fledgling new parties off guard, most notably the separatist Western Canada Concept which was capitalizing on anger over Lougheed's perceived weakness in dealings with the federal government, in particular his acceptance of the hugely unpopular National Energy Program. The WCC had won a by-election earlier in the year, and Lougheed decided that it would be wise to stage a showdown with the WCC sooner rather than later.

Lougheed then proceeded to mount a campaign based largely on scare tactics, warning Albertans angry with Ottawa but yet uneasy with the WCC that they could end up with a separatist government by voting for a separatist party. The strategy worked for the Tories, who won their fourth consecutive term in government, and returned to the 62% popular vote level it had attained in the 1975 election. The PC party won 75 of the 79 seats in the legislature.

The New Democratic Party, led by Grant Notley, doubled its legislative caucus from one member to two and became the official opposition after a debate over whether the NDP or the 2 Independents should be appointed official Opposition.

The Alberta Liberal Party was punished in the wake of the NEP and was barely able to field candidates in a third of the riding's, and went down to one of its worst showings in party history.

Welcome to Alberta...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Alberta Liberal Party Resignation - December 21st, 2009

Mr. Tony Sansotta,

Please accept my resignation from any and all involvement in Alberta Liberal Party Organization.

As we discussed since the Calgary-Glenmore By-election, I have offered my time and considerable expertise to assist with the organization and development of the constituencies. To that end I have attached a number of documents which will help to understand my position.

1. My letter to Kevin Taft dated June 14th, 2005, updated in red for today's purposes. I could write the same letter today with simple modifications to the Leader's name. The point is, I have tried to assist this Party for years with little or no response.

2. Having been frustrated by the Leader, I designed a programme for the Party in 2007 including costs to organize and run a successful campaign.

3. On October 6th, 2009 I met with the Party to offer my services to organize the constituencies.

4. On October 11th I received an email from Dr. Swann requesting my participation in organization.

5. On October 21st I made comments related to the current status of the various provincial parties in Alberta. That was picked up in the Calgary Herald October 22nd.

6. The database spreadsheet was designed November 17th and sent to the Party for basic information in order for me to start the constituency organization.

7. When you and I met November 29th you requested again that I be involved in organization.

Within the past few weeks I have been able to determine from various sources that you have blocked my access to the information requested on the spreadsheet. You have not had the decency to advise me directly.

Therefore, I consider myself persona non gratis within the ALP and regretfully tender my resignation from my involvement.

Over the next few days I will consider my membership in the Alberta Liberal Party.

Respectfully Submitted,

Donn Lovett

Monday, December 21, 2009

Part 12 - Activism - A Prologue September 2003

A great deal has happened vis a vis Iraq since this paper was written in April of 2003. For our part a large group of activists and academics traveled to Northern Cyprus on April 25th and met at the Eastern Mediterranean University to discuss what to do next. Out of those discussions came the dream of Dr. Tareq Ismael to build the International University of Baghdad (IUB). The initial proposal was developed in Cyprus and it was decided that the initiative should be a Canadian sponsored initiative.

The IUB would begin as a “virtual university”, meaning that the project will begin to get underway in terms of establishing programs, international connections, and so forth, even before it would acquire a physical presence in Iraq. Once established, however, it will be a graduate-focused institution and would compliment post-secondary education in Iraq, rather than compete in the post-Ba’ath environment. Not only will the university spearhead needed educational programs, but it will also make available a wealth of educated individuals capable of filling the “brain-drain” that resulted from the years of war, militarization and sanctions. Before the U.S. and British-led attack on Iraq, there were 10 universities in the country, but the quality of education provided at these universities was in decline as there was not enough funding available to run these institutions properly, principally due to the UN Security Council sanctions and the choices made by the previous Iraqi government to focus predominantly on militarization. Vast numbers of university professors and professionals, such as doctors and engineers, left the country in the 1990s as a result of the dramatic decline in social services. Now, largely due to the destruction and looting incurred in the recent war and its aftermath, none of the universities in Iraq remain fully functional. This is a predicament that urgently requires attention, as access to education has always been instrumental in developing a lively and independent civil environment.

The established universities in Iraq will benefit greatly from an internationally-focused and graduate-centred educational facility in their country. The IUB will be able to draw students from all over the world to study in Iraq, alongside Iraqi citizens, creating a constructive dialogue that is capable of transcending the simplicities of international conflict scenarios. The breadth of experiences possessed by the international students will enhance the resources and connections that Iraqi citizens themselves would have, fostering greater civil society through an ever increasing independence from governmental contacts. At the same time, the unique experiences of the Iraqi students – historically, politically, economically and culturally – along with the potential revival of a “cosmopolitan” Baghdad, will serve to enrich the international students who would be studying at the IUB.

The planning committee has already garnered a great deal of international recognition for this project, including support from individuals such as Betty Williams, the Irish Nobel laureate, and Jordan's Prince el-Hassan Bin Talal, brother of the late King Hussein, who is acting as the chairman of the board of trustees. Furthermore, IUB advocates include Canada’s Prime Minister Jean Chrétien; along with Edward Broadbent, former leader of NDP; Richard Falk, professor of international law (Emeritus) at Princeton University; and John Polanyi, winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry and professor of chemistry at the University of Toronto.

With the help of other supporters, the IUB planning committee is also currently working to urge Nelson Mandela, former South African President, to become a member of the university’s board of trustees.

At this crucial time when many Iraqis see any outside involvement as largely negative and tied to an “occupation”, and relate to the international environment in terms of “conflict”, the reconstruction of Iraqi educational infrastructure through this project and others will help to provide an example for the positive possibilities of international cooperation. Canada is in a unique position to spearhead such a project and should seize the opportunity to foster positive development in Iraq and advance our traditional role as a peacemaker in the international environment.

While in Ottawa over the past few months we have had meetings with several MPs, Senators, DFAIT, CIDA and potential partner agencies such as the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

To summarize the rationale we presented in Ottawa for why Canada should lead this initiative:
1. Canada has had a long-standing relationship with the Middle East and in particular with Iraq. Prior to the Gulf War of 1991, Canada was one of Iraq’s primary trading partners, and the Canadian Wheat Board was the largest supplier of wheat to Iraq.
2. Canada is considered a non-imperialistic actor in the region. We have not had the expansionist policies of France, the United Kingdom and the United States.
3. Canada has had a reputation as a Middle Power and a peacemaker in world affairs.
4. The stance that Canada took in the recent Gulf War of not supporting unilateral US action has reinforced Canada’s image in world affairs.
5. Canada can exercise a tremendous amount of influence in Iraq and the region by taking these kinds of initiatives.

You may contact me at I look forward to hearing from all of you and your personal journeys.

Part 11 - Activism - Initial Conclusion 2003

The point of this article is to let people know that anyone can make a difference. Although we failed in our attempt to prevent the U.S. from invading Iraq we accomplished great things during the past few years. Canada did not change its position and support the US/UK war. Canada maintained its support for the UN. We met with several governments around the world and we felt we influenced their decisions. And we must not forget the events of February 15th, 2003 when the world stood up in the largest support for peace ever experienced.

My 23 year old daughter, Shanda traveled to Iraq in 1999 as part of an international women’s conference. While in Iraq she visited several schools and talked to children about the sanctions. She was invited to meet with Madame Aline Chrétien and in December 1999 had a 90 minute audience with Madame Chrétien to discuss her experience in Iraq.

More recently, my 12 year old daughter, Kate visited the Iraqi Embassy in Ottawa 2 weeks ago to have a tea with the Iraqi Charge. My daughters have become anti-war activists in there own right. I cannot forget the undying support I receive from my wife, Nora Stewart. Nora is an engineer and a senior partner in a large energy evaluation firm in Calgary. Without her absolute support I would not be able to accomplish anything.

Our responsibility now is to ensure that the US does not become the judge, jury and executioner for the world.

We shall overcome.

Written in 2003

Friday, December 18, 2009

Part 10 - Activism - A Brave Canadian MP & Diplomacy

In January 2003 I organized a parliamentary delegation to go to Iraq with the knowledge of Prime Minister Chrétien and Foreign Minister Graham. Madame Colleen Beaumier and her able assistant, Natalie Jewett joined me on the trip.

Also in Baghdad at the same time were Gary Bobrovitz from Global News Calgary and Linda Slobodian from the Calgary Herald on visas we arranged. They reported the situation on the ground from Baghdad.

In Baghdad we met with the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Tariq Aziz, the Foreign Minister, Mr. Naji Sabri, the Iraq Trade Minister, Communications and Transportation Minister, Deputy Agriculture Minister and the Deputy Speaker of the Iraq National Assembly accompanied by several members of the Assembly.

The purpose of the trip was to convey to Iraq the Canadian position with regard to disarmament and to receive any message that Iraq wanted put before our government. The Iraqis asked one thing and that was for Canada to maintain its position in support of the UN.

We arrived back in Canada on January 29th, 2003 and worked non-stop to try and reach agreement on an initiative that would prevent the U.S. from invading. This involved a two stage proposal.

Initially there was the six points for piece plan that was developed through the efforts of Scott Ritter and the Deputy Foreign Minister of South Africa, Mr. Pahad and was an extension of the Canadian initiative that was being discussed by the non permanent members of the UN Security Council in February 2003.

After the attack by the US and the UK a modification of that plan which was now being sponsored by the Vatican was tabled. Both of these proposals had been somewhat agreed to by Iraq and involved Disarmament, Human Rights, Democracy, Diplomacy, Economy and of course Peace.

These initiatives are attached to this paper for review. But as the entire world now understands the U.S. and the UK were not interested in a peaceful solution to Iraq.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Part 9 - Activism - Weapons' Inspectors Return to Iraq

While this was being organized and unfolding, Bush was dragged kicking and screaming to the UN on September 12th. This happened through the efforts of a number of countries including Canada and the UK. He appeared at the UN because there was virtually no support for U.S. actions against Iraq and Bush felt that the U.S. could beat the UN into submission. The timing worked out for Iraq who had agreed to come to New York for September 14th and, through a series of negotiations in New York that I was involved in, made its proposal to the UN through Kofi Annan on September 16th, 2002. The proposal allowed for a return of weapons inspectors to Iraq with no conditions attached. The negotiations were finalized in November 2002 and that way was paved for Hans Blix to return to Iraq after 4 years without inspections.

The return of the inspectors neutralized the U.S. demand that Iraq disarm. However, it soon became apparent that the U.S. was not interested in a disarmed Iraq, but rather wanted control of the country for several reasons, not least of which was Iraqi oil and the fact that in their war on terrorism they had not been able to find Osama bin Laden. The U.S. then moved to the language of “regime change” and the world began to respond to their actions, culminating in the mass rallies held worldwide on February 15th, 2003. Tens of millions of people protested the U.S. position including 1.5 million people in London, who opposed Tony Blair’s pro-U.S. stance and 1 million people in Rome, who opposed their government’s support for the U.S. Spain saw hundreds of thousands of people in Madrid and Barcelona protesting the Spanish government’s support of Bush. As a result, the U.S. changed its rhetoric from “regime change” to “liberation of the Iraqi people and a change in human rights”.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Part 8 - Activism - Return of Weapons' Inspectors Con't.

In August 2002, Scott Ritter went to South Africa to meet with the Tariq Aziz of Iraq, Mr. Pahad, the Deputy Foreign Minister of South Africa, and the Belgium Foreign Minister. During these meetings it was agreed that Scott would go to Baghdad to address the Iraq National Assembly on September 8th, and during the presentation would discuss the return of the inspectors. South Africa and Belgium agreed to cooperate with Canada, if Canada would take the lead on the “honest broker” initiative.

Meanwhile back in Canada, I stayed in touch with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister to ensure that, at the very least, Canada would continue to support the UN and not support US unilateral actions. On two occasions in July and August of 2002, in direct phone conversations with Prime Minister Chrétien, I was assured that Canada would keep supporting the UN. On August 9th, 2002 at a meeting with Bush in Detroit, Mr. Chrétien reiterated Canada’s support for a UN resolution to the Iraq situation. At the same time I had met with Minister Graham, who also assured me that Canada would stay with a UN resolution. To this day they have maintained that position and I believe that Canadians should be very proud of these actions of our Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, in the face of the tremendous pressure from the Americans to support their unilateral actions. I was in the Canadian House of Commons on March 17th, 2003 when the Prime Minister announced that Canada would not support the US war on Iraq. This was one of the bravest things our Prime Minister has ever done.

Scott Ritter met with the Iraq National Assembly on September 8th, 2002 and told them in no uncertain words that they had to allow the inspectors to return and that there was no room for negotiations on this matter. Further, they had to advise the UN that they would accept the inspectors before the U.S. was able to get a resolution before the UN that they would not be able to deal with. Iraq accepted what Scott had to say and dispatched Foreign Minister Sabri to New York for September 14th.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Part 7 - Activism - Return of the Weapons' Inspectors

In January of 2002, Prime Minister Chrétien appointed Bill Graham as the new Canadian Foreign Minister and hopes for a more sovereign Canadian position with regard to the USA gave us a reason to quicken our attempts to get the weapons inspectors back into Iraq. By this time Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck were now concentrating their efforts in Europe. Arthur Millholland was in the UK and busy with his business efforts. Lloyd Axworthy became busy with his UBC institute. It was left to Scott Ritter and I, to continue the discussions started in New York in the fall of 2001.

Scott Ritter arranged to meet with the Labour Party in the UK and the French Government to discuss the return of the inspectors. I began to build support in Ottawa with MPs with whom we could work. Notably, Madame Francine Lalonde of the Bloq, Dr. Keith Martin of the Alliance, Joe Clark of the Conservatives and Alexa McDonough of the NDP were contacted and they agreed to keep in touch with the initiative. Madame Lalonde became quite active and was a strong source of support. I was in constant contact with Madame Colleen Beaumier who gave us access to the Liberal caucus.

Meanwhile, I developed a relationship with Robert Fry, the senior advisor to Bill Graham, the Foreign Minister, as well as with Chris Hull and Graeme McIntyre from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAIT). Through Robert Fry we could get access to the Foreign Minister if the matter was significant enough. At this point we were feeling quite encouraged and I asked the Standing Committee to meet with Scott Ritter to discuss the return of weapons inspectors. Thanks to the efforts of Madame Lalonde and Dr. Martin the Committee agreed to meet with Scott Ritter and Denis Halliday in early June 2002.

The meeting with the Standing Committee was very successful. Scott Ritter was able to convey the importance of getting the weapons inspectors back into Iraq as a necessary step to getting the economic sanctions removed. There was a sense from the meeting that Canada could play a role once the inspectors had returned. Scott Ritter and I then met with Madame Lalonde to develop a document entitled “The Honest Broker”. The thrust of this document was to ask Iraq to agree first to the return of the weapons’ inspectors and then to permit Canada, South Africa and Belgium to help mitigate any difficulties that might arise between Iraq and the UN as a consequence of the inspections. These countries would not interfere with the inspectors themselves because they recognized that the U.S. would not tolerate any interference with the inspection process. However, situations might have arisen requiring some form of reconciliation between the UN and Iraq during the inspections. Canada was chosen because it is the major trading partner of the U.S. with a close historical, political and geographical relationship. South Africa was chosen to represent the non-aligned nations and Belgium because of its membership in NATO and the EU.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Part 6 - Activism - Scott Ritter's Influence

A new parliament was elected in November 2000 and we restarted our efforts to get Report #5 accepted by the Canadian Government. However, we now faced a new resistance. John Manley was appointed to the position of Foreign Minister and he took an even closer stance with Washington. During Manley’s tenure Canada moved as close to Washington as Canada had ever been. This caused individual MPs in the Liberal ranks to distance themselves from any initiative that may confront the U.S. We also witnessed a hardening of a pro-American position with the Alliance Party, under their new leader, Stockwell Day. Although we still held the support of the Bloq, the NDP and the Tories, getting majority support was becoming increasingly more difficult. This, combined with the election of the neo-conservative Bush Administration, made the matter of getting a resolution of the Iraqi sanctions almost impossible. It became clear to me that removal of sanctions could not happen without the return of the weapons inspectors and a resolution on the question of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), which became the buzzword of the Bush White House.

At this time the Bush White House had little or no interest in foreign relations. It seemed hunkered down in an isolationist mentality until the attack on the World Trade Center in September 2001. The ensuing “War on Terrorism” set a course for Bush and his neo-conservative cohorts that continues to affect the world in a seriously negative way. The appetite for war, demonstrated by Bush after the September attack, provoked me to call a meeting of international diplomats and interested individuals, to meet in New York to see what we could do to dampen the US enthusiasm for war. I contacted Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, both former United Nations Humanitarian Coordinators in Iraq at the Assistant Secretary-General level. I contacted Scott Ritter, the former US Marine Major and head of the UN weapons inspections in Iraq from 1991 through 1998. I also asked the former Foreign Minister of Canada, Lloyd Axworthy to join us, along with the president of the Canadian oil company, Oilexco, Arthur Millholland. Lloyd Axworthy had had a change of heart since leaving Ottawa and wanted to see what could be done to ease the pressure on Iraqi civilians. All agreed and a meeting was arranged for the end of November 2001 in New York, ironically held at the Republican Women’s Center. Mr. von Sponeck could not join us but was in contact via phone and email.

Although several ideas were discussed, it became clear that the return of the weapons inspectors was the only way out of the impasse. It was thought that Canada could play a role, given that it had an outstanding reputation at the UN and was not an imperialist nation. Iraq might accept recommendations coming from there. However, John Manley was still Foreign Minister in Canada and not predisposed to anything that may confront the U.S. We decided to continue discussions and to formulate a plan that could be discussed between Canada, Iraq and the UN.

Lloyd Axworthy agreed to discuss our meeting with Louise Frechette, a Canadian and the Deputy Secretary General of the UN, and with Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, whom he was to meet with at dinner while he was in New York and Washington. Conversations within the group continued over the last part of 2001 and into 2002.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Part 5 - Activism - Report #5

Report #5 (see side-bar), which was unanimously supported by the 18 Members of Parliament sitting on the Committee and representing all five political parties, called for a de-linking of sanctions. This meant the removal of economic sanctions but leaving military sanctions in place. It further called for an opening of dialogue between Canada and Iraq. The deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, Mr. Tariq Aziz, accepted Report #5, as a good basis to resolve the situation in Iraq. It was suggested that the Secretary General of the United Nations might use that report as a basis for breaking the impasse on getting proper humanitarian relief to Iraq.

Report #5 was rejected outright by the then Canadian Foreign Minister, Lloyd Axworthy, and it died without being taken to the UN. The main reason given by senior advisors to Axworthy, at a meeting that I attended, were as follows. “While we recognize the destruction to the people of Iraq, we cannot do anything to upset the U.S. Administration because they will beat us up on trade.” One of the senior advisors was a medical doctor who had visited Iraq and seen first hand the difficulties being experienced by the people of Iraq.

This resulted in two important outcomes for me. I met Madame Colleen Beaumier, the Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, and I discovered that Lloyd Axworthy would not act if it meant confronting the United States.

I invited Madame Beaumier to come to New York to meet with the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, Mr. Tariq Aziz. She agreed and the meeting was arranged for September 2000 at the Iraq Permanent Mission to the UN in New York. We discussed Report #5 as a basis to solving the economic embargo on Iraq while agreeing that at this stage the military embargo had to remain in place. The meeting was cordial and it was the first time that parliamentarians from Canada and Iraq had met since the Gulf War. By now Canada had closed its embassy in Baghdad even though Iraq maintained a Charge d’Affaire in Ottawa. The action now became one of getting individual MPs to endorse Report #5, in an attempt to get a majority of the 301 MPs to sign a letter addressed to the Prime Minister (and copied to the Foreign Minister) demanding that Canada accept the results of the Report drafted by the Standing Committee assigned the task of advising the Foreign Minister. We received unanimous support from the Bloq Quebecois, the New Democratic Party and the Progressive Conservatives, while individual members of both the Liberal Party and the Alliance Party, led by Dr. Keith Martin agreed to endorse the Report. We had the support of 127 members when Parliament was dissolved on October 22nd, 2000 and an election called. This nullified our efforts until after the election.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Part 4 - Activism - Action with Canadian Government

I began to contact people I thought could give me information to help me develop a plan of action to assist the people of Iraq. The first was Denis Halliday. I remembered reading a statement that Mr. Halliday had made after he resigned his position with the UN in protest over U.S. interference in the relief operations in Iraq. He said, “I can find no legitimate justification for sustaining economic sanctions under these circumstances. To do so in my view is to disregard the high principles of the United Nation’s Charter, the Convention of Human Rights, the very moral leadership and the credibility of the United Nations itself.”

Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Denis J. Halliday, an Irish national, to the post of United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, at the Assistant Secretary-General level on September 1, 1997. Halliday served as such until the end of September 1998. During this period, the Security Council Resolution 986 “Oil for Food” Programme, introduced in 1996/97 to assist the people of Iraq under the Economic Sanctions imposed and sustained by the Security Council, was more than doubled in terms of oil revenues allowed. This enabled the introduction of a multi-sectored approach, albeit modest, to the problems of resolving malnutrition and child mortality. Mr. Halliday resigned from the post in Iraq, and from the United Nations as a whole, on October 31, 1998, after serving the Organization for 34 years.

After running the "Oil for Food" program, which uses Iraqi oil revenues to distribute basic food rations and medical aid to Iraqi civilians, Halliday turned his attention to spreading the word about sanctions-related suffering. I contacted Mr. Halliday in late 1999 and invited him to Canada. We met in Ottawa for a series of lectures and I took him to the House of Commons to meet the Chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Mr. Bill Graham. I wanted him to ask Mr. Graham to hold hearings on Iraq at the Standing Committee. Graham agreed immediately and the hearing was scheduled for March 2000. I arranged for Mr. Halliday and Mr. Arthur Millholland the president of Oilexco, the only Canadian company participating in the “Oil-for-Food” programme, to come to Ottawa as witnesses to the Committee. The Hearings lasted for three days, culminating in Report #5, “Resolution on Iraq”, which was tabled in the Canadian House of Commons on April 12th, 2000.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Part 3 - Activism - Effects of the US/UK Embargo

The World Health Organization (WHO), reported that “Pre-1990 Iraq reflects the health status of a modern developing society, in which the wealth it obtained from exporting its main commodity, oil, contributed to improving the quality of life of the Iraqi people, which then (1988/1989), was already at a relatively ‘satisfactory’ level, with indications of a trend for further improvement.”

UNICEF reported that, “The Government of Iraq made sizable investments in the education sector from the mid-1970’s until 1990. Educational policy included provision for scholarships, research facilities and medical support for students. By 1989 the combined primary and secondary enrollment stood at 75% (slightly above the average for all developing countries at 70%). Illiteracy had been reduced to 20% by 1987.

Education accounted for over 5% of the state budget above developing countries of 3.8%.”

After the imposition of sanctions in 1991 we know that:

1. 1.5 million Iraqi civilians have died since 1991 as a direct result of the sanctions.

2. 600,000 of the dead were children under 5 years of age according to UNICEF reports and substantiated by the Red Cross. A recent UN report stated that the infant mortality rate in Iraq is 133. This means that for every 1,000 children born, 133 will not reach the age of 5. By comparison, Canada’s infant mortality rate is less than four.

3. The number of malnourished children has increased over 300% since 1991.

4. Maternal mortality rates have more than doubled during this period of the sanctions and 70% of Iraqi women suffer from anemia.

5. Unemployment has soared under the sanctions, as has inflation. The average civilian salary, for example, is CAD$3.60 per month.

6. An estimated 800 tonnes of depleted uranium contained in ammunitions were used by the allied forces in the Gulf War. Cancer rates in Iraq have increased five-fold since the Gulf War. Childhood leukemia in Iraq has the highest rate in the world.

These undeniable facts lead me to travel to Iraq to view first hand the devastation to the Iraqi civilian population and the complete destruction of the civilian infrastructure and the civilian economy. I could no longer stand by and let the crimes continue, crimes to which the Canadian government was a partner. Tacit approval of the unjust conditions to which Iraqis were subjected was tantamount to direct involvement in the destruction.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Continued from October 3rd Blog

Also, vivid in my memory was the fact that the Cuban Missile Crisis was solved, not because one country attacked another, but rather as an outcome of dialogue. Yes, the Russians sent ships and the Americans countered with more ships, but ultimately dialogue prevented a war and the United Nations was involved in the solution. This message that I received from the events of 1962 still resonates today. That is, that dialogue is still the best way to solve disputes and the United Nations Organization is needed more than ever.

My activism carried me through high school and the Viet Nam War. The point is, my activism was born out of these events and the tumultuous 60’s. In 1981 I found myself living in Baghdad and working for a Canadian company called Canron. We were providing water pipe and fittings to Iraq for the supply of drinking water. The Iraqi regime had decreed that everyone in Iraq would have clean drinking water and properly treated sewage. As a Canadian company we were doing millions of dollars of trade in Iraq and I was sent to administer the contracts. My experience living among the people of Iraq and interacting with them was one of respect, kindness and honesty. When the Gulf War broke out and the U.S. talked about collateral damage for the first time, I thought of my Iraqis friends, and so I saw the war from a different perspective than did most North Americans.

I followed the events in Iraq and learned about the effect of the embargo on the people of Iraq and in particular to increased infant mortality. My daughter was born in December of 1990 and, being a ‘stay at home father’, I was deeply involved in raising my child and – readily empathized with those Iraqis who were losing their children at an alarming rate. Reports of the rise in infant mortality rate and deaths of civilians were stalled by the U.S. and U.K. at the United Nations. They blocked reports coming from the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF. Finally, the information could no longer be hidden and the “Oil-For-Food” programme was initiated in an attempt to alleviate the hunger to which years of embargo had subjected the Iraqi people.

We learned that during the 1991 Gulf War the U.S. led bombing raids that attacked every hospital, every water treatment plant, every wastewater plant, most schools and every major intersection in downtown Baghdad in order to destroy the water distribution and sewer collection systems. All attacks against civilian infrastructure are in direct violation of the UN Charter and must be considered war crimes. A good friend of mine, Denis Halliday, the former UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq said the following;

“We are in the process of destroying an entire society. It is as simple and terrifying as that. It is illegal and immoral.”

Back to the Blog - Back in Canada

Folks, my last entry was back in mid-November, prior to my trip from Oman to the UAE, back to Oman and then my departure to Canada, arriving in the winter cold, November 28th.

Got my feet planted again and wanted to continue what I started at the very beginning of the Blog, the rationale for my activism.

So, the next few excerpts will continue the theme and then I intend to right a brief history of my involvement in the Alberta Liberal Party, ending with what needs to be done to in order for the Party to become relevant once again in Alberta politics.

Bear with me as there is a point to all of this, including my self-indulgence.

Thank you,

Donn to Dusk

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Most Canadians not worried about H1N1

In a recent survey conducted by Nanos Research(see their link), they discovered most Canadians are not concerned with the H1N1 virus. The attached PDF explains the results of the survey.

Are you concerned?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What's Good For The Goose!

In his Nov. 12th, 2009 Blog Darryl Raymaker writes;

“It is time for Michael Ignatieff and his new chief of staff Peter Donolo, to take the gloves off. The country needs energetic engagement on the political battlefield. Politics is a tough and bloody sport with little place for a genteel Marquis of Queensbury rule book. This is particularly so when one’s opponent has no intention of engaging in the contest pursuant to any kind of a rule book.

Its time to fight and fight back – on the beaches, on the landing grounds, in the fields and in the streets, and in the hills,* not to mention the church basements, small town hockey arenas, barbecues, hockey tournaments, and anywhere else we do politics in this great country. It is time for some realpolitik! And there is not one moment to lose! (*with all due credit and apologies to the great Winston S. Churchill).

But in response to my similar call to arms for David Swann and the Alberta Liberal Party, I get the following response;

Alberta Liberal strategist admits: 'We're irrelevant'
By Jason Fekete, Calgary Herald - October 22nd, 2009

But Darryl Raymaker, who's co-chaired the party's last two general election campaigns, said he doesn't agree "one iota" with Lovett's analysis.

"Nobody could ever challenge (Swann's) qualifications to handle that job," Raymaker said. "He has shown that he is up on the issues."

I absolutely agree with his analysis of the federal scene but provincially it seems Darryl and I are in the same boat, oars in the water but rowing in opposite directions. I have always admired Darryl and I believe it doesn't take much for the oars to be turned, after all the boat moves much better that way.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pay Attention, It’s All About the Numbers, and

“The Answer is 42”*

Swann, Stelmach or Smith, Albertans have a dilemma.

The numbers are in and the pundits are wildly sifting through the primordial ooze trying to predict the future.

Stelmach receives 77.4% support for his leadership from the people who live on his island. This means 1 of every 4 want him off the island.

Who cares; certainly the Tory Party doesn’t appear to.

Hell, I got
78% support in a recent Herald opinion poll from a similar number of responders and I’m still here.

But given recent poll information from Janet Brown of Environics Research Group, a woman this blogger has a tremendous respect for, the Tories should be more receptive to change when only
34% of decided voters agree they will vote for the Tories.

However, this Party, in one form or another has been in power in Alberta for more than
37 years and that in itself creates a thought process far removed from the hopes, dreams and needs of the people in the cities, towns and farms of this province.

Swann had a fundraising dinner Nov. 6th and 500 people showed up to gently place money in the coffers of the Alberta Liberal Party. The Party is jubilant and well they should be. Organizers suggest this is the largest turnout since the Decore era.

But what of the numbers given to the Liberals by decided voters,
20% as reported by the same pollster, Janet Brown, as recent as October of this year, good for third place.

A month before in the Calgary-Glenmore by-election decided voters gave them
34%. Yes we can make an argument that this was a by-election, blah, blah, blah.

The point is that the Party ran a candidate with a message from the political centre and came within a heartbeat of winning in what was considered an historic Tory stronghold.

Smith received 77% of the vote in her leadership victory in October and now the smug Ms. Smith believes she should be the Premier come the next election.

Already decided voters are placing her Party, the Wildrose Alliance, at
28%, second place to the leading Tories as reported by Brown in the same poll discussed earlier.

Opposition parties claim that as soon as Albertans discover the TC’s (True Conservatives) as the Wildrose describe themselves, they will turn and run from supporting the so-called religious right and neo-conservative platform of the Wildrose Alliance Party.

But let me paraphrase from one of my favourite movies and one of the important statements from that movie, “in the absence of real leadership people will follow anyone.”

Albertans are looking for leadership and they will take Smith in the absence of a change in Swann. We see Swann trying to change course but the people controlling the sails don’t know how to tack.

Stelmach in his speech in Red Deer claimed his messages are fine but the media cannot understand what he is saying.

The liberals appear to adhere to the same belief, if only they had more money, if only the media understood them, etc….

The facts are simple; the people of Alberta do not get the Liberals. They do not understand where they come from and who David Swann is, but with a change in direction, Swann could surprise everyone.

Why, because the issues that matter most to Albertans are Liberal issues.

Issue #1 - Health Care:
In a Nanos Research poll dated Nov. 4th,
90% of Canadians support public health care with no perceivable change by Region. They want to see it strengthened; they do not want to see it cut and destroyed.

I said in an earlier piece, the Tories will move to defend their right flank against the Wildrose and if the Liberals can manage to move to and hold the centre surprises will abound.

One of the most important numbers in all of this is
60%, those people in Alberta elections who choose not to vote because there is no one who represents them, discover a connection and the rest will be history.

second most important Ultimate Question; Can the Liberals do it?

The answer to
the Ultimate Question is 42.

* Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything (42) from ‘The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy’

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Preparing For The Future

With my apologies to Jenny Joseph and my advice to the Alberta Liberal Party

When I am old I shall wear purple, with a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me.

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves and satin sandals and say we've no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired and gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells and run with my stick along public railings, and make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain and pick flowers in other people's gardens and learn to spit!

You can wear terrible shirts and grow fatter and eat three pounds of sausages at ago, or only bread and pickles for a week, and hoard pens and pencils and beer mats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry, and pay our rent and not swear in the street, and set a good example for the children.

We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

Maybe I ought to practice a little now?

So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised when suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Canada Is Not The Only Country With Loons!

Now that Vancouver is hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics, these are some questions people from all over the world are asking.

Believe it or not these questions about Canada were posted on an International Tourism Website.

Obviously the answers are a joke; but the questions were really asked!

Q: I have never seen it warm on Canadian TV, so how do the plants grow? (England)
A. We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around and watch them die.

Q: Will I be able to see Polar Bears in the street? (USA)
A: Depends on how much you've been drinking.

Q: I want to walk from Vancouver to Toronto - can I follow the railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it's only four thousand miles, take lots of water.

Q: Is it safe to run around in the bushes in Canada? (Sweden)
A: So it's true what they say about Swedes.

Q: Are there any ATM's (cash machines) in Canada? Can you send me a list of them in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Halifax? (England)
A: No, better bring a few extra furs for trading purposes.

Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Canada? (USA)
A: A fri ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe, Ca-na-da is that big country to your North...oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Calgary, come naked.

Q: Which direction is North in Canada? (USA)
A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we'll send the rest of the directions.

Q: Can I bring cutlery into Canada? (England)
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.

Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys' Choir schedule? (USA)
A: Aus-t ri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is...oh forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Vancouver and Calgary, right after the hippo races, come naked.

Q: Do you have perfume in Canada? (Germany)
A: No, WE don't stink.

Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Where can I sell it in Canada? (USA)
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.

Q: Can you tell me the regions in British Columbia where the female population is smaller than the male population? (Italy)
A: Yes, in the gay nightclubs.

Q: Do you celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada? (USA)
A: Only at Thanksgiving.

Q: Are there supermarkets in Toronto and is milk available all year round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of Vegan hunter/gatherers. Milk is illegal.

Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Canada, but I forget its name. It's a kind of big horse with horns. (USA)
A: It's called a Moose. They are tall and very violent. They eat the brains of anyone walking close to them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.

Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? (USA)
A: Yes, but you will have to learn it first.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Vaccine Anyone?

So, you think the H1N1 debacle in Alberta can’t get any worse?

After the Flames got caught with their pants down, the Stelmach Government took a lot of pucks to the head.

Predictably, a mid-level manager in the Health Services Department got fired. That’s right, kill the messenger not the message. Is there any truth to a sighting of Health Minister Ron Liepert checking out the price of body armour at a Calgary gun shop?

Now PC Party faithful are joining the chorus trying to protect Premier Stelmach from the back lash over the Swine Flu mess with the looming leadership vote.

No less than Tory Caucus “heavies”, Wayne Cao and Moe Amery claim Stelmach should not be sent to his room over this Health Care controversy.

Wow, that should make Fast Eddie sleep a lot sounder leading up to the Shootout at the Red Deer Corral.

On the other hand the Premier could still suffer a nightmare or two with former party big shot, Marv Moore lashing out at the boss and his Health Care policies. Moore was not only an ex-Health Minister, but also a major Tory campaign strategist and rural Godfather from Peace River.

He called the H1N1 situation a…”blunder.”

Liberal Leader David Swann came out swinging shoving a needle in the PC rump attacking the clear perception of scarce vaccines for the privileged and demanded that Liepert take a hike to the nearest hospital for an extended stay in the padded ward.

The opposition is finally waking up and learning that it’s good strategy to pile on the least popular Provincial Premier since the quarterback… the forgettable Don Getty.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How To Tell The Economy Is Still Struggling?

You know the economy is still in trouble when;

You order a burger at McDonald's and the kid behind the counter asks, "Can you afford fries with that?"

The bank returns your check marked "Insufficient Funds," you call them and ask if they meant you or them.

You buy a toaster oven and the free gift with the purchase is a bank.

The Middle East Traveller

For those of you who ask what I am doing in the Middle East, let me give some current details.

I am sitting in the Muscat airport preparing to board a flight to Abu Dhabi in the UAE. I have arranged a few days of intense meetings and then back to Muscat Nov. 7th.

Then it's on to Khartoum in Sudan for official meetings arranged through HE Jamal El Sheikh A. Osman, the Sudanese Ambassador to Oman. I hope to meet with HE Dr. Awad Ahmed Al Jazz Minister of Energy and Mining Sudan. The meetings will discuss a number of issues related to our Omani company cooperating with oil & gas activities. We also have an interest in mining in Sudan.

After that I am planning a trip to Basrah in Iraq to further discussions related to Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR). We believe Oman Energy Services LLC; our Omani company can assist Iraq with recovery.

This has delayed my return to Calgary until Nov. 28th.

See ya in time to start preparations for Christmas.

The Middle East Traveller

Saturday, October 31, 2009

6 More Sleeps

It’s the final days before Stelmach’s leadership showdown and sources have confirmed that Fast Eddie’s team is feverishly working the phones to ensure the boss is not dethroned a la King Ralph.

PC MLA’s have been sternly instructed to "lay down the law" to their constituency delegates. All 15 had better cast ballots endorsing the Leader or they can kiss their cushy government contracts good-bye. That message is getting through loud and clear, but will he reach the magic 70s threshold or fall short, it’s going to be close.

What of all the whispers that former leadership hopeful, Jim Dinning is quietly mounting a comeback? Dinning, of course, is denying it and publicly expressing his love and support for the Premier. He was followed by the former #1, Peter Lougheed and the other would-be Premier, Ted Morton.

Sources are insisting Dinning is true to his word and will not run. Lougheed had his time in the sun, but then there’s Morty. The issue is not that he finally joined the chorus in favour of Stelmach, but that he took sooooo long to do it and, in fact was the last to jump on the bandwagon. The hot “street talk” is that snortin’ Morton still has a skeleton crew on standby to kick start a campaign if Red Deer becomes a Dear Rear Fiasco.

Of course the Alliance is already fundraising and planning strategy with its new leader, Missy Smith.

But are the NDs and the Libs ready to kick a little butt if the Alberta political structure explodes?

This could be one of the most wide open provincial elections in the past 2 decades. If the economy continues to struggle, deep cuts to essential services continue and we continue with a lame duck Premier. There could be a dreaded "double dip” down and that’s the direction falling oil & gas prices will take the Tories!

Stay Tuned, only 6 more sleeps!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Holy PC Trilogy Speaks

We had the right timing but the wrong politician when we told you on the last blog..." It's been a bad couple of weeks for Fast Eddie Stelmach and it looks like the next few won't be any better”. It’s Michael Ignatieff that is a dead man walking with the latest Ipsos Reid poll showing he and his fellow Federal Libs at just 25% support among Canadians. That's LESS than former leader Stephane Dion and the lowest showing since 1867...Confederation !!!!

After dithering and then appearing to back down from his threat to force a general election during the month of October, Ignatieff continues to dance the Ottawa two step on this critical issue. Since the late summer he has managed to lose support among voters and gave the Conservatives a big lead in Ontario. The poll suggests Harper would win more seats in Canada's biggest province and is close to pulling out a majority government. On the bright side Mikey has no where to go but up.

As for the Gentleman Politician-Farmer from Northern Alberta, none other than former Stelmach rival Jim Dinning publicly endorsed the Premier and told party members..."Don't you dare"...give him a spanking at the November leadership review. Jimbo's logic is that Fast Eddie won the largest electoral majority in the Free World...70 of 83 seats...and dissing the leader would harm the party and the Government as it deals with substantial economic and social issues. Well Jimmy, maybe the leader shares some blame for these issues taking the province down a black ya think? Also, Jim one has to wonder what interest you may have in the passing of Bill 50 creating unusual bedfellows always has an ulterior motive, hmmmmmmmm.

Dinning was joined by the former God of Alberta...sorry...former Premier Peter Lougheed who also voiced his strong support.. Apparently, Ted Morton the other ex-leadership candidate will complete the trilogy by joining the Stelmach chorus later this week. The Father, the Son and the Oh My God.

Jim's parting advice to Stelmach is to deliver this simple message to rebel party members..."It's time for hardball politics"...

That's a suggestion that should also become the mantra of Alberta Liberals if they want any chance to chop down the mighty PC oak.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Is There A Doctor In The House?

It's been a bad couple of weeks for Fast Eddie Stelmach and it looks like the next few won't be much better.

First, Ex-King Ralph and his former kitchen cabinet came out swinging. Klein threw down the gauntlet to the Premier claiming he needs at least 70% support from the leadership review to keep the job. Then, Hal Walker apparently is circulating an open letter among Tory supporters denouncing current fiscal policies including the re-jigged royalty structure. Finally, campaign consigliere Al Hallman went public with an outright demand the Leader take a one way hike back to the farm.

Rod Love is mysteriously quiet, but he is telling a select few to stay by their phones and not book any Phoenix golf junkets over the next 2 months.

There's going to be a lot of action through till Christmas if the Red Deer results are less than stellar. Alberta Liberals should be ready.

Now, the PMO may be piling on. Harper apparently is strongly suggesting his Alberta MP's stay wide and clear of the November shindig lest they get caught in the crossfire.

Rumours abound that his closest confidant and the most powerful member of the Federal Cabinet is lusting after the Premier's Legislative armchair. Calgary MP Jim Prentice apparently has what's left of the Joe Clark campaign team at his disposal, according to Don Martin, just waiting for the word to kick into gear.

Stelmach hears the footsteps and may be ready to make some changes according to a prominent Cowtown energy analyst who believes there will be yet another re-re-jigged royalty package announced BEFORE the end of this year.

He's also calling for a huge rebound in Natural Gas prices which would put the Provincial Treasury back in the black in late 2010 and salvage the Premier's promise of an economic recovery.

Of course that would also help pull the Vulcan Visionary's political bacon out of the fire should he take the plunge at the ballot box in the spring of 2011?

However, the priority is to get through the November vote with just a couple of flesh wounds. Stelmach will be lucky to only lose a finger perhaps a couple of toes. But, it still stings.

Calling Dr Swann you're needed in surgery. It’s time to sharpen the scalpel.

My Kingdom for a Poll

In a poll from the October 24th Calgary Herald, when asked, Do you agree with Calgary Liberal organizer Donn Lovett’s statement with respect to the Alberta Liberals?

722 readers cast a vote; 78% supported my position.

When Danielle Smith won the Leadership of the Wildrose Alliance Party she received 77% of the vote.

Now it's up to Ed Stelmach to see if he can beat my numbers with his vote taking place November 7th.

Vote early, vote often in the new POLL.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Socreds By Any Other Name

Preston Manning says the Stelmach Government could be toppled in the next election. That’s a shot for his late father, Ernest Manning, whose 38 year Social Credit dynasty was ended by Peter Lougheed and the Tories in ’71.

Then we had the 38 year Tory dynasty. Social Credit (Wildrose Alliance, Reform, Alliance, whatever) want their place back in the Pantheon of Alberta Politics.

Don Braid called Smith an “enthusiastic and convincing speaker” and Stelmach “worst speaker and public communicator in a major political job in Canada”.

Ex MLAs Ernie Isley and Lyle Oberg have publicly jumped on the dump Stelmach band wagon. There goes Rural and Northern Alberta down the drain, and to the right.

Will Stelmach get the same support from his party that Smith got from her party come November, not a chance!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Future of Alberta Politics - One Person's Opinion

After viewing the outcome and the aftermath of the recent Glenmore by-election it became abundantly clear that the Alberta Liberal Party was handed an opportunity even greater than the Decore years. The Party was offered a chance to pull itself up, dust itself off and get back into the game.

It would require a plan, a plan yours truly offered immediately following the by-election. The plan was to gain the centre of the political spectrum in Alberta.

This would require a strategy, a strategy I am still waiting to see.

My crystal ball told me politics in Alberta would evolve as follows;

The Wildrose Alliance Party of Alberta
Having elected Paul Hinman in Calgary Glenmore and with the upcoming immanent leadership victory of Danielle Smith (now confirmed), Alberta would have an official neo-conservative, social conservative party or as they like to refer to themselves as the TC (true conservative) Party. They have no place to exist except on the far right.

The Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta
They are in a schizophrenic nightmare, not even able to organize to get to work on Tuesdays. Since they have no respect, nor fear of the Alberta Liberal Party, they will see their threat coming from the right in the form of the Wildrose Alliance Party.

There adjustment will be to move further and further right resulting in huge cuts to programs will little desire to raise taxes. Albertans will suffer under this scenario far worse than in the Klein years of the early 90s. They have their leadership review in November and sources tell me the sharks are circling the sinking ship.

We have to wait until November 7th, 2009 to see how small a percentage of support Stelmach receives. The outcome will be determined by Party insiders who suggest numbers like 70% and 80% are not enough and then we have the Joe Clark factor of 2/3 support not being enough.

Tremendous political instability exists here.

The Alberta Liberal Party
They need to gain the centre. This space is larger than any other and occupied by most of the voters of Alberta with no one in control. Hence we see 40% voter turnouts and a disdain for all parties. The secret is how to get there because only the Liberals can go there.

First, the Party needs to change the Leader. Before we go off on a tangent, I mean the public persona not the physical person. Dr. Swann needs to be much more aggressive, more available to the media and with a firm centrist message, not an easy task.

Second, the Party needs to change Caucus communication immediately if not sooner. The Alberta Liberal Party is not taken seriously by the media as my sources tell me repeatedly.

Third, the Party needs to take an aggressive stance towards reorganization on the ground and so far this seems to be the area given most attention. Unfortunately, without the other changes this will not succeed.

The Alberta NDP
The have a firm grip on the left, not interested in moving off that position and constantly willing to call the Liberals a right wing party which can only help move the Alberta Liberal Party more to the centre.

One Person's Opinion

Wild about the Wildrose

So now we have Danielle Smith to lead us out of the wilderness that is Alberta Provincial Politics. Her background with the ever popular and centrist organization, the Frazer Institute, should have prepared her properly to lead us, albeit from a neo-conservative and social conservative perspective.

She will be fully apprised of the need to properly support and fund Public Health Care in Alberta through her association with the Frazer Institute.

Also, her time spent on the Public School Board will have prepared her for the necessary proper funding required for Public Education in Alberta. Forgetting the fact that while on the Public Board she was in violation of the Alberta School Act, having not attended the required meetings.

Disqualification of trustees
82 (1) A person is disqualified from remaining as a trustee of a board if that person;
(h) absents himself or herself, without being authorized by a resolution of the board to do so, from 3 consecutive regular meetings of the board, unless the person’s absence is due to illness and the person provides evidence of that illness in the form of a medical certificate respecting the period of the person’s absence;

Combined with her colleague, Paul Hinman, who seems to have a callous disregard for the Elections Act of Alberta, as displayed in the recent Glenmore by-election, we appear to have a Party with a disdain for the law.

It will be interesting to see how they respond to the rules of a Parliamentary system.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Thoughts for Thanksgiving

"You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war."
-- Albert Einstein

"Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest person it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow."
--Edward Sandford Martin

"Diapers and politicians need to be changed for the same reason."

"When you are going through hell, keep going."
-- Winston Churchill

"Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional."
-- Bobby Orbach

"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."
--Chinese Proverb

Friday, October 9, 2009

Barack Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize

I am overwhelmed and had to hold back the tears after hearing the announcement of this year's Nobel Peace Award. It extends the hope I felt when he was first elected. I trust the world will continue to embrace his dialogue approach to the world. We will continue to see progress with Nuclear proliferation , the conflict with Iran, the Palestinian situation, etc...I am quietly optimistic.

Back to Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

I arrived in Muscat, Thursday, October 8th. I own a piece of Oman Energy Services LLC, an oil & gas services company. My partner is;
Dr. Yahia Bin Mahfouth Al-Manthri, State Council President – Sultanate of Oman and formerly;
• Minister of Higher Education
• Minister of Education
• Minister of Youth
• President of Sultan Qaboos University
• Minister of Social Affairs
• Deputy Governor of Dhofar in Salalah
• Councillor of the Oman Embassy (Washington) United States of America

I will travel from here to Khartoum, Sudan later in October, then off to Dubai, returning to Calgary November 5th or 12th depending on Sudan.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My Response to the 2008 General Election

The following was written after the 2008 election loss. I offer this because I will be making political comment and this will give a background.

Donn Lovett – “One Person’s Opinion”

First, let me explain who Donn Lovett is and why he feels he should enter the discussion on the recent results of the 2008 Alberta general election.

• I have lived in Alberta since 1982, having worked in the Province since 1975 out of a regional office in Winnipeg.
• I have been working with the Alberta Liberal Party since 1982 and have managed Alberta Liberal election campaigns on 7 different occasions winning 6 times and while the “Dr. Harold Swanson campaign of 1997” did not produce a Liberal MLA, I still consider that a victory.
• I am a public and media relations consultant with a strong background in politics in this province.
• I am well known in the Calgary business community, including but not limited to the oil & gas sector.
• I am well known by the Calgary media and believe I have a good relationship with them.

I am sorry I was not here to participate in the recent general election but since January 8th, 2008 until a few days ago I was in Oman and dealing with the aged old man’s problem, the prostate. I believe that is now under control and I expect a clean bill of health by the end of April of this year.

I want to break down my comments into the following categories;
1. What happened, why did we lose the election?
2. What can be done by the Liberal Party immediately?
3. Leadership of the Party
4. Money
5. The Future

1. What Happened, why did we lose the election?

The answer to this question is not what we display on our website. We cannot blame the voter which we appear to be doing in the language on the site. We say the voter did not give us the money we needed. The voter did not understand our policy. The voter did not come out to vote. This is not the fault of the voter in Alberta. What we did not have was money. Our election war chest was, literally, empty. That meant no polling or public opinion research, a very small campaign team, and almost no advertising to get our message out. It is no wonder many Albertans don’t see an alternative to this government, even though they want a change. And it is no wonder there was a record low voter turnout. It is my belief that the answer to this question lies within the Party itself and can be found in our behaviour, or lack thereof dating back to October 2007. Of course this involves the royalty issue, our handling of that was the single most transitional issue that can be found in discussion with the voter in Calgary and I am sure in other parts of Alberta. Up to that point we had a broad base of support from the voters and a sense of
change was evident in casual and business conversation. We can even pin point to circumstances related to discussions on October 22nd and 23rd in Calgary. After that there was a tremendous loss of emotional connection between the Leader and the voter. We messed with the minds of the voter. They were disappointed with the Stelmach Government performance and were desperate for change. They felt we were the vehicle for change. They wanted so badly for our Party to be the direction they were seeking and we stopped communicating with them on an emotional level they could understand. In Calgary today I find anger in the business community, in the political community and in my social community, anger with the Party organization and anger with the Leader. Comments are made such as “you people don’t even like us”. We did not get the money to run the campaign because the voter refused to give it to us after October. Low voter turnout was a result of no where to go for a large number of voters who had previously been looking at the Liberal Party. We could not get our message out because the voter stopped listening!

2. What can be done by the Liberal Party immediately?

First, change the critic positions recently announced (see the attached suggested list). The current critic’s list furthers the notion with the voter that we are not connected, we are not listening and “we don’t like them”. For God’s sake, one of the most important issues to this day facing this province is health care. We have a distinguished medical doctor in our ranks and we do not have him leading this debate. The Sheldon Chumir Centre opened in Calgary understaffed and under-funded and there was little or no comment from our Party. Sheldon is a Calgary icon and a significant part of the recent history of our Party and nothing was said. Also, who did more to work with rural communities to develop discussion and relationships? Dr. David Swann is a well known activist on matters of international importance and we do not have him leading the discussion on International Relations. Harry Chase is a teacher. This is the person to lead the discussion on education and advanced education. We have this valuable resource and the other hot button issue that voters tell us is important to them. Let Harry lead this debate. One of the most important issues in the coming months will be labour. Labour and how we handle foreign persons coming to Alberta to work in our labour force. Once again, we have the resources available to us in the guise of Hugh MacDonald and Darshan Kang. Hugh with his labour background and Darshan with his strong connection to his community and the idea of Calgary and Edmonton cooperation is mind boggling. Kevin Taft will take on the finance critics’ position in order to go after the government from his Leader’s position with respect to the budget. This will be the major focus of the current session. Give Energy and Environment to Dave Taylor and they are not mutually exclusive in Alberta. You cannot develop a discussion on one without immediately involving the other and therefore they need to be with one critic and further to this they need to be directed from Calgary. I can bring a group of respected Doctors, Engineers and Scientists to the Party to give us direction on Carbon Credits, CO2 Sequestration, GHG emissions strategies, etc.... We are currently working with these persons in the Gulf Region of the Middle East on a comprehensive GHG reduction plan. Finally, Energy needs to be removed from the Leader because he is seen to have separated himself from the voter on this matter in the first instance. We will have a zero response from the Calgary business community if Kevin is the Energy critic. I would venture that this decision alone could elevate us in Calgary. To what extent remains to be seen but the current position will only damage us, Kent Hehr is a lawyer and only he can apologize for that. I best explain that this was a joke given the serious nature of people’s sensibilities these days. It remains that Kent should keep the legal critics positions. I know Calgary so I have my opinions on the critic positions from that perspective. I do not know Bridget, Laurie and Hugh as well as I would like but I make the suggestions from what I do know.

3. Leadership of the Party

Kevin Taft must make his decision by the latest, end of this session. We have no luxury of time past this date. We cannot go into the summer with the status quo and we certainly do not want the media and public relations debacle of a leadership review with all the lights in September. We cannot go outside the Party at this time for a new Leader. Nine very intelligent, respected and dedicated persons sought and won the right to be MLAs in Alberta. They certainly do not need someone from outside coming in and telling them how to handle themselves. Further, we do not need the image of the Party being lead from the Gallery in the Legislature. The next Leader of the Party needs to have the ability to respond to the media with a sharp wit and a “clip” answer. This person will give us the ability to fend off the discussion about what happened and allow us to debate what the future can bring. We need to get on with life as a Party. Review the list of 9 MLAs and tell yourself who best can do this for the Party at this time!

4. Money

I will put a team in place to look at retiring the debt. After the 2004 general election I met with Kevin Taft’s representative and offered a team to do exactly that. The team was present the plan was offered and no follow up took place to engage these people. However, believe it or not, they are still willing to sit down and look at a plan to retire the debt. This tells me there is a pulse left in the Party. There are people willing to step up a do this at this time given the recent results. They will not do this if we do not make changes some of which have been described above.

5. The Future

There is a debate ensuing around the issue of the name “Alberta Liberal Party”. This is healthy. We should explore the brand. However, we cannot do this under existing circumstance. We need to change and change quickly before we are perceived to have any credibility at all to engage in other debates.

Respectfully Submitted,
Donn Lovett
One Person’s Opinion

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Origins of Donn

According to Irish mythology, Donn, or the Dark One, is the Lord of the Dead and father of Diarmuid Ua Duibhne, whom he gave to Aengus Óg to be nurtured. Donn is regarded as the father of the Irish race; a position similar to that of Dis Pater and the Gauls, as noted by Julius Caesar.

Originally, Donn was the chief of the Sons of Mil, a mythological race who invaded Ireland, ousting the Tuatha Dé Danann. Donn slighted Ériu, one of the eponymous goddesses of Ireland, and he was drowned off the south-west coast of the island. A place near this spot, on a small rocky island named 'Tech nDuinn' ('the House of Donn'), became Donn's dwelling place as god of the dead. This house was the assembly place for the dead before they began the journey to the otherworld.

Knockfierna, County Limerick was Donn Fírinne's residence. Cnoc Fírinne (meaning 'Hill of Truth') takes its name from Donn, who is said to forewarn the local people of bad weather by gathering up rain clouds around him on the hill.
In modern Irish, the word for the colour brown is "donn".

Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend. Miranda Green. Thames and Hudson Ltd. London. 1997

The Donn and I. Donny Merkx. Holland. 2008

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Why Start Blogging? - I have Something to Say

The Beginning of My Activism

It was fall, 1962. I was 13 years old and the world was on the brink of a nuclear war. This time the given reason was the deployment of missiles in Cuba by the Russians. Something, apparently, the United States disagreed with. I remember those days as if they occurred last week. I spent six months of my life in constant stress. If I slept, I had nightmares about nuclear war. While awake I constantly thought of nuclear war and the destruction that would result, including my death.

I remember the federal Canadian Government Organization called the Emergency Measures Organization (EMO), telling me that in the event of a nuclear attack while I was at school, I should hide under my desk. Remember, I was 13 and even at that age, I knew that “under the desk” was where they would find the vapour from the nuclear explosion. Provided of course, there was someone around to look for the vapour.

I remember one particular Monday evening. I know it was Monday because I delivered the Star Weekly magazine on that day. It was September in Winnipeg and after 6:00 p.m. when the sun was setting and the street getting dark. Suddenly the air was filled with the unprecedented sound of air raid sirens. I panicked and running to the first house I could find, pounded on the door. The man who met me immediately recognized my problem, tried to answer my stream of questions quickly and attempted to calm me. He put me in front of his television to show me that the sirens were part of what the EMO referred to as a “mock nuclear attack”, and I should not be afraid.

How dare my government do this to a 13-year-old child? They staged a “mock nuclear attack”, sounding air raid sirens without warning. I knew I had to do something to prevent a complete personal collapse. I sought people with whom I could discuss these issues and who were already doing something about the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

I joined a peace movement and learned what “one person can do”.