July 15th, 2018

Political times, they are a changin’ in the West

By Collin Gallant on August 12, 2017.

Climate change is upon us — the political climate in any case — as the intensity and frequency of news events in the Western provinces are turning the traditional dog days of August into busy times indeed.

That doesn’t even take into account the political lava rock that’s flying into the sky over Washington, D.C.

Usually, 4 p.m. on Friday before a long weekend is the time for big breaking news, but at this end of Canada it was Thursday of the short week.

To begin the day, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall (also the MLA for Swift Current) announced he’ll step down when a new party leader is elected.

The result is that the main conservative parties in the three western-most provinces are all without a leader currently.

A couple scallywags went so far as to suggest he might try his hand running for the new United Conservative Party in Alberta, or the B.C. Liberals.

Or vice versa, that unsuccessful UCP leadership hopefuls might head east.

Polling in the two provinces has shown a weird reversal of sorts. After an unpopular budget, Wall appeared weak facing a challenge from the also leaderless Saskatchewan NDP.

Next door, here, recent polls strongly suggest the brand new UCP could topple current Premier Rachel Notley.

For her part on Thursday, Notley spent the day touring Enbridge’s Line 9 replacement project (a $7.4 billion new line from Hardisty to southern Manitoba).

At the exact same time, the B.C. NDP held a press conference to announce they still object to the Trans Mountain expansion, but not much new.

Somehow this added up to a bad day for the Alberta leader, in the opinion of many commentators.

The news cycle taketh away, but also giveth, and Alberta NDs appear willing to watch for the moment how the curious case of Derek Fildebrandt plays out inside the official opposition ranks.

The UCP firebrand and finance critic was discovered to have been subletting his government subsidized apartment in Edmonton —just the sort of at-the-trough behaviour the tax-conscious Strathmore-Brooks MLA has decried for his entire career.

After a valiant attempt to deflect the criticism to NDP (he says a review of rules is needed and the Alberta debt will receive any rental profit), Fildebrandt softened his tone late in the day and is now on leave.

An implied smear implication is someone on Brian Jean’s leadership campaign was behind a leak to the Edmonton Journal. The two have sparred for years, and Fildebrandt implicitly endorsed Jason Kenney for UCP leader this week.

(The story actually appeared in Ottawa-based scandal rag “Frank Magazine” last month.)

Fildebrandt’s original defence was that it was a smart business move that’s not specifically against the rules.

For others, that’s the Duffy Defence, plain and simple.

A look ahead

Without much in the queue, council next sits on Aug. 21. Also, the Economic Development siren here at the News office has been going off, so stay tuned.

100 years ago

U-boat threat would be eradicated if only a tunnel was built under the English Channel, a New York inventor said in the News this week 100 years ago.

Capable of progressing 100 feet per hour, the man’s new boring machine could accomplish the task in 35 days, he claimed.

In Europe, Canadian troops commanded of the first time by a Canadian officer captured Hill 70 overlooking the city of Lens. The continuation of the Battle of Passchendaele claimed 9,000 Canadians during four days of counterattacks.

Daylight Savings Time, currently being considered by parliament, would “benefit merchants and professionals … looking to play golf an hour longer,” but would prove a hardship for the farmer who lives life by the sun.

“It is purely psychological,” an editorial stated. “It should be remembered that time as it is commonly reckoned does not exist. We have made time a real thing with clocks and calendars, but what we call time is merely a sequence of events.”

Ottawa gained total control of the flagging Canadian Northern Railway.

The Non-partisan League objected to new export restrictions on wheat being sold into the United States laid down by the wartime food controller. At the same time, immigration restrictions were lifted to allow thousands of Americans to enter Canada to help with the coming harvest.

Collin Gallant covers city politics and a variety of topics for the News. Reach him at 403-528-5664 or via email at cgallant@medicinehatnews.com

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