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”.