Progress Report #180
Your weekly update on Alberta politics for August 20, 2019
Brace yourself, dear reader, because there’s a lot to report this week.
The old boys’ club is back: late last Friday afternoon–hoping to dodge most of the media cycle, no doubt–the UCP dismissed nearly two dozen chairs and members of provincial agencies, boards, and commissions, then replaced them with political appointees.
It’s a drastic change of pace from how the NDP handled these appointments and a return to the ‘old boys club’ the former government tried to dismantle. The NDP brought in a professional, HR-style application-and-interview process that aimed to depoliticize these appointments. In contrast, the UCP appointees include a slew of big donors–in total these new appointees have donated over $185,000 to conservative causes recently. Check out the spreadsheet on the Progress Report blog.
A Lethbridge city councillor tried to get the local safe consumption site defunded–and failed: councillor Blaine Hyggen put forward a motion that would have seen Lethbridge city council call on the provincial government to defund the local harm reduction site. Lethbridge’s safe consumption site is one of the most-needed in Canada and perhaps the busiest in North America–serving nearly 600 people a day. ARCHES, who operate the site, and Moms Stop The Harm, a harm reduction advocacy group, mobilized dozens of supporters to the council vote on Monday and hundreds of locals to inundate council with letters of support. Hyggen’s motion was defeated 6-3.
The UCP convened a ‘minimum wage review panel’–and then stacked it with lobbyists: following through on their months of rhetoric attacking the NDP’s increases to Alberta’s minimum wage, the UCP have convened a panel to ‘study’ whether or not food and alcohol servers deserve the same $15/hr that other workers get. Its members include two economists who publically opposed the minimum wage raise, representatives of lobbyists Restaurants Canada and the CFIB, and some suspiciously cherry-picked ‘worker representatives.’ The conclusion of the panel is, of course, foregone.
- This week on the podcast: when Faisal Khan Suri (of the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council) was invited to speak to a federal justice committee about far-right/anti-Muslim terrorism, St. Albert MP Michael Cooper took great umbrage–and then read bits of the Christchurch terrorist’s deranged manifesto at him. Faisal and journalist Omar Mouallem join our director Duncan to chat about it.
- Did you know that the Alberta government pays a whopping $193,000 each year to the Postmedia corporation for ‘media monitoring’? That’s nearly ten times as much as they pay the closest competitor. More details on the blog.
- The UCP message box around harm reduction all month has been, “well, we want to fund treatment instead.” It’s a little hard to believe when just last week they cut nearly $3 million from the Calgary Homeless Foundation, who were providing a lot of those services…
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