By George Brown, editor
My desk is a rainbow of sticky notes intended to remind me of interviews to attend, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses, passwords, questions I should ask, and ideas that could become editorials or columns.
To clear some room from around my monitor, here are a few stickies I’m pulling down.
Premier as sandbagger?
Residents in rain-soaked southern Alberta were upset Premier Ed Stelmach didn’t cancel his vacation in Portugal and return to survey the flood damage. His Progressive Conservative government has authorized more than $200 million in flood relief, what more do they want?
Why would these people be satisfied with a symbolic visit from a politician? He’s not a hydrologist so unless Stelmach is able to part the flooding waters with the Speaker’s mace, what’s the point of showing up and saying, “Yup, the water sure is high.” Have the MLA take a look and maybe the minister responsible for deciding what a disaster is, and recommend to cabinet how much money is needed in a relief effort.
These are the same people who would have derided the premier had he arrived in gumboots and slicker to fill a ceremonial sandbag or two, or pose with one of those big Government of Alberta cheques PC MLAs carry around in the back of their Lincoln Towne Car.
Stelamach’s ship is taking on water but it shouldn’t be because of this.
Ministry of Dithering
One reason the government should be taken to task is for dithering on the matter of funding teachers’ raises.
After telling school boards they were on their own to fund their share of $66 million in raises that the government — not local school trustees — had negotiated, Education Minister Dave Hancock changed his mind. Schools are closed, administrators are on vacation, staff have been cut and now the government decides to pay the costs they were responsible for all along?
How will school boards un-ring this bell? Budgets will need to be reworked, laid off staff will need to be re-hired, suspended courses re-instituted.
What a waste of everyone’s time.
Last year at this time the government clawed back school board reserves, and then they froze funding. Trustees and administrators reacted to the decision and the government passed its budget. Now Hancock has miraculously found the money.
Does this government have any idea how inept it looks?
CBC journalists need not apply
I don’t know much about the new governor-general designate except that David Johnston is not some CBC celebrity journalist. And that should be a good thing, even if this was Donald S. Cherry’s last, best shot.
The question is whether Johnston, a legal scholar, will have the kohonees to stand up to the prime minister (whoever that is over the next five years) and avoid more trumped up parliamentary or constitutional crises.
And even though ordinary voters didn’t have a say in the selection of Johnston, Prime Minister Stephen Harper did consult with a committee of so-called “eminent persons” as well as premiers, civic leaders former PMs and opposition leaders.
Where is the Wildrose Alliance headed?
And speaking of journalists who play at politics, Danielle Smith, leader of the Wildrose Alliance, is trying to exploit the obvious weaknesses of the governing Progressive Conservatives and moving the directionless party left, toward the lucrative political centre.
Being in the centre is like being at the North Pole: whatever direction you go is south. If you’re in the middle, you get to call out the direction you’re going.
But the party seems to be more concerned about its image than its policies. And with one MLA elected under its banner, the Wildrose Alliance is somehow second to the PCs in popularity.
Alberta’s governing party is neither “progressive” nor “conservative.” The future for Smith’s party, if it doesn’t define itself soon, may be neither “wild” nor “rosey.”
So long LeBron
As one of the few long-time Cleveland Cavaliers fans I know, I am sorry to see LeBron James leave for Miami. Not surprised he left but certainly surprised at how he announced his departure — on his own prime time TV special.
I’ve been a fan since the Cavaliers came into the league in 1970. I’ve been a Cleveland Browns fan since I realized there was a football team named for my family. Hey, if they were the Cleveland Volds they might have a few more fans in Ponoka.
Anyway, the Cavalikers stunk for most of its first two decades and had the misfortune to be competitive at the same time Michael Jordan became a superstar and they lost a few times to the Chicago Bulls in the playoffs. The Browns had a similar run of luck in the Eighties.
High school star King James brought respectability and hope to the franchise and to the city but he underachieved in the playoffs this year and the team bowed out early. He clearly wasn’t feeling the love in his home state.
Over in Toronto, Chris Bosh was using Twitter to announce he was thinking of leaving Toronto and eventually accepted D Wade’s invitation. Rumours were rampant LBJ would join his Dream Team buddies on the floor with the Heat.
Owners can’t conspire with one another but obviously players can. They make deals on Twitter. Players aren’t chattel anymore; they’re businessmen like the team owners who sign their paycheques.
Can you imagine Wayne Gretzky announcing in 1987 he was leaving Edmonton to join Lanny Mcdonald and Guy Lafleur to play for the Calgary Flames? Would they have had each other’s phone number?