HicksBiz Blog

Category: Provincial politics

Provincial politics

Hicks on Biz: Explaining Don Iveson By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, May 10, 2019

Mayor Don Iveson speaks with media at the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce's Mayor's State of the City Address luncheon at Edmonton Convention Centre in Edmonton, on Wednesday, May 8, 2019. Ian Kucerak / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS Mayor Don Iveson gave his sixth annual “State of the City” speech on Wednesday to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce. As he moved into well-covered territory – high-tech, innovation, blah, blah, blah – my mind wandered. The next municipal election is October, 2021 –  2½ years away. If Iveson runs for a third time will anybody challenge him? I  doubt it. Mike Nickel, city council’s lone fiscal hawk, knows he can’t beat Iveson – heck, he couldn’t even win a UCP nomination in his provincial riding. Councillors Michael Walters and Sarah Hamilton have flirted with the idea. But neither would run against pal Don. As Iveson moved on  in a rather boring speech, I thought about his political p ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: The great challenge confronting Alberta By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, April 26, 2019

Alberta United Conservative leader Jason Kenney on election night at Big Four Roadhouse on the Stampede grounds in Calgary on Tuesday, April 16, 2019.Darren Makowichuk / DARREN MAKOWICHUK/Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS As the election euphoria fades, here’s what Premier-Elect Jason Kenney is up against. Multi-generational Albertan families, for the first time, are seriously considering their futures in what once was a land of milk and honey. Our province’s great natural resources are under unrelenting attack. Author David Yager fittingly named his recent book on Alberta’s future,  “Miracle to Menace.” The urban latte-drinking crowd are convinced that a climate-change Armageddon is at hand, unless — damn all those who feed their families from oil-patch jobs — fossil fuel-burning is  banned from this Earth. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Being anti-oilsands is so trendy, so stylish. National Geographic Magazine just published ANOTH ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: The industrial hinterlands will save Edmonton’s bacon By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, April 18, 2019

United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney addresses supporters in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, April 16, 2019.Jeff McIntosh / THE CANADIAN PRESS Around 9 p.m. on April 16 jubilant cheers emanated from all around Edmonton. But within the city, in the centre of the doughnut, nothing could be heard but the gnashing of teeth and moans of despair. Our good city dwellers — so many on the government payroll one way or another — gave 19 of 20 Edmonton ridings back to the New Democrats. On that same  night,  workers from the Nisku, Fort Saskatchewan and Acheson industrial parks, from the metal fabrication and natural-resource processing  plants, from the refineries, the pulp mills, the grain elevators and the farms gave 15 of 16 ridings in Edmonton’s industrial hinterland to Jason Kenney’s get-the-economy-moving UCP party. Rachel Notley and her progressive troops may have won in Edmonton,  but the Orange were crushed everywhere else. Final tally (save ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Alberta election proof of civility's decline By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, April 5, 2019

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley, Alberta Liberal Party Leader David Khan, Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel and United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney.File / Postmedia Why has the rhetoric of fear and loathing crept deeply into this provincial election? There once was a deep journalism dictum. Criticize the action, not the person. Criticize what a person says or promotes, not the person himself/herself. The two main antagonists in this election, Premier Rachel Notley and opposition leader Jason Kenney, have more-or-less subscribed to this convention. They hammer at each other over policy differences but have not (yet) descended to personal attacks. STORY CONTINUES BELOW But both have allowed their campaigns to indulge in, to actually trumpet, personal attacks. The website thetruthaboutJasonKenney.ca, is a rabid, pit-bull personal attack on Kenney openly sponsored by the Alberta New Democrats. It’s the first highly-publicized “official&rdqu ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: It's about government debt, stupid! By GRAHAM HICKS first published EDMONTON SUN, March 29, 2019

Premier Rachel Notley.Ed Kaiser / Postmedia Trying to track the real costs of election promises is a fool’s game. For every spending promise made in this provincial election, there’s some hypothetical, unprovable financial justification. Take Rachel Notley’s daycare promise: In return for the government’s social investment of $1.5 billion over five years in daycare subsidies, the daycare program will “add $6 billion to Alberta’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product).” Where the $6 billion figure comes from is anybody’s guess. Theoretically, a daycare worker with a bigger pay cheque tips his/her server an extra buck, who in turn buys a chocolate bar from a 7-Eleven clerk, who in turn gets a raise for selling more chocolate bars … Then there’s reality. When Notley and her party ran in 2015, they promised to balance the annual provincial government budget within five years. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Five years later, Fina ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: How to save the world and still keep our coal industry BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2016

A few weeks ago, a simple question was posed in this column. What’s the most cost-effective way for Alberta to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (and other atmospheric pollutants) by 30% by 2030? Is it by ending all coal-generated electricity (currently producing 60% of Alberta’s power) by 2030 and replacing it with renewable power (wind and solar farms) and natural gas, as is planned by the New Democratic provincial government? Nobody is even pretending this is a least-cost model. To shut down six coal plants prematurely, the province has just  announced it will compensate three power companies to the tune of $1.36 billion ($97 million a year over 14 years). The money is to come from the impending provincial carbon tax.  Would it be cheaper to meet environmental targets by replacing all coal plants with natural gas? Would a “blend” of coal, natural gas and renewables make the most economic sense? I had never seen any cost comparisons – at leas ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Predicting the best-and-worst-case scenarios of the Alberta NDP's energy policy BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Too late to turn back.   The Alberta ND government has irrevocably committed the province to a profound change in electricity generation, from coal, natural gas and some wind to no coal, more natural gas, and massive new renewable energy projects – more wind farms, big solar farms, on-site solar and run-of-river hydro. The government’s self-declared goal is to have 30% of Alberta’s power generation coming from renewables by 2030. This fundamental shift is as expected from a government with a radically different mind-set than the old. The “Alberta Advantage” will no longer be measured in economic terms but in ecological ones. Under past Conservative governments, Alberta was the lowest-cost province in which to do business. The New Democrats want Alberta to be the cleanest province in which to do business. So let’s polish up the ol’ crystal ball, and predict best-and-worst-case scenarios of this determined effort that will hit home in January when th ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Alberta's debt is not Ralph Klein's fault BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 06, 2015

Quit blaming Ralph! How do you like these headlines of late? From Calgary Herald columnist Naomi Lakritz, published across Canada: “Ralph Klein not NDP Alberta Premier Rachel Notley to blame for budget woes.” Or from Ricardo Acuna, executive director of the Parkland Institute, in a guest column in the Calgary Herald: “Klein’s policies got us into this mess.” They argue it’s all ex-Premier Ralph Klein’s fault that the current ND government must plunge back in debt to keep our economy from going to hell in a hand bucket. Ralph’s zealous cost-cutting from 1993 to 2006 landed us in our current pickle – Ralph slashed hospital beds, fired nurses and teachers! Roads weren’t built! Hospitals and schools weren’t built! We are, according to Acuna, “still working to recover” from Ralph’s axe. Get over it! Ralph’s serious deficit-slaying days were from 1993 to 1997. Twenty years ago! For goodness sake, ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Will Alberta end up like Greece? BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2015

When reading about the latest provincial, federal or municipal budget, do your eyes not glaze over about three paragraphs in? None of us can see beyond our own noses. No serious tax increases are in the new Alberta ND government’s 2015-2016 budget. Good. The 20 per cent of Edmontonians who work in the public or quasi-public sector can breathe easy. No lay-offs, no salary reductions. The New Democrats will not cut the civil service, the health system or public education. Good. Good – now, back to the real world. How’s McDavid doing with the Oilers? Oh, the government’s going into serious debt. Who cares! Why worry? The average Ontarian doesn’t care about his/her provincial government’s $300 billion debt and it’s way worse than ours. The annual interest Ontario pays on its debt is “only” $11 billion, or a little under 10% of its latest $125 billion budget. Jolene and Joe Average couldn’t care less about what the ND are doing in ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Big cities not respecting public purse BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2015

Wednesday’s “Cities and the Future of Canada“ annual Hurtig Lecture at the University of Alberta featured Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi. The evening has to be analyzed in the context of the seismic shift in political attitude that happened in Canada last Monday. I was expecting practical, down-to-earth thoughts from these two, both considered leaders of a new wave of Canadian politics where big-city mayors get the same face time and respect as  provincial and federal leaders. And, being old school – witness my woeful misreading of Alberta sentiment as national sentiment in predicting a bare-majority Conservative government last week – I thought there’d be more concern from these two on how to pay for the updated Canadian urban agenda. Wrong again. The presentations, then discussion by these two mayors – intellectually heads ‘n’ shoulders above your average politician – were in the philosophical and politic ... Read the rest of entry »
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