Sunday, October 31, 2004


race2004 is now predicting and electoral tie, a conclusion it reaches by taking my own predictions and moving Minnesota and Iowa into the Kerry column and New Mexico into the Bush column (and also by predicting the the Maine, Nebraska, and Colorado electoral votes remain unsplit, which seems pretty safe).

In other news, permalinks to individual posts on this blog now work!

The only NFL game I'll care about for the next four years

Green Bay: 28
Washington: 14

Maybe there's hope. But I doubt it.


Friday, October 29, 2004

Boy, it sure has been a while since I made an inane post about my tracking statistics, hasn't it?

Wait a minute - if Spencer's in Calgary, who's checking my blog from the UBC?

Look! St. Albert Politics!

Well, in the last few days the numnber of candidates for St. Albert MLA has increased from two to five. In addition to incumbent Mary O'Neill of the Progressive Conservatives and the long-nominated Travis Thompson of the New Democrats, newcomers Jack Flaherty of the Liberals, Conrad Bitangcol of the Greens, and Chris Braiden of the Alberta Alliance have tossed their hats into the ring (it appears that my riding will be without candidates from the Alberta Party, the Separation Party of Alberta, and the Social Credit Party).

The most intriguing of the candidacies is that of Mr. Braiden, a casual acquaintance of mine who I would have deemed an odd fit for the Alliance. In today's Saint City News, he remarked that "if [the party] was ultra-right wing, Chris Braiden would have nothing to do with it," citing his perception of its greater electoral potential as his primary reason for turning to it rather than the Liberals or New Democrats. I happen to think he's wrong on both counts, but I vote the candidate, not the party, so I'll go into this with an open mind.


Thursday, October 28, 2004


race2004, which was previously one of the very few sites calling a Kerry victory, is, as at this moment, predicting exactly the Presidential election result that I did a few days ago, with the notable and bizarre exception that it's giving Arkansas to Kerry. No matter - Captain Botox is cooked.

In other news, what the Premier recently said about AISH recipients doesn't bother me so much because of what he said - I assume that all benefits programs, public and private, are victims of fraud, and I accept this as a cost of running them - but why he said it. I mean, he wasn't proposing any *solution* to the fraud that he says exists. He wasn't saying how this fraud should affect government policy. I can only conclude that his was an attempt to take a run at calls from legitimate AISH recipients and their advocates for an increase to the benefits, which is not only logically incoherent but rather mean-spirited as well.

Exit the Albatross

At no time in Canadian political history has the idea of proportional representation received as much attention as it is now. The fourth largest party in the House of Commons (a party whose caucus, incidentally, numbers exactly the difference between the Liberal caucus and half the House of Commons) lists its adoption as one of its top priorities, not a single political party (including the Liberals and the Bloc Québecois, for whom PR would spell disaster) has the courage to oppose the idea, and the British Columbia "Citizens' Assembly" has set the ball rolling towards electoral reform in general, which is likely at some point to lead to PR unless the present course is reversed.

My opposition to Proportional Representation on the grounds that it kills representative democracy is likely well-known to regular readers of this space (strange breed of masochists that they are), so I shan't harp on it any more at this time. Besides, many with whom I have quarrelled on the idea have cited the attainment of "higher ideals" as justification for the need to move to PR: PR would help the New Democrats gain more power, which would in turn lead to a number of desireable reforms. This argument - PR as the means to an end - is bothersome to me not only because I'm unprepared to accept the existence of ideals higher than the proper representation of a state's citizenry in that state's legislature, but also because it's completely wrongheaded strategically. In this post, I will attempt to establish that this is so, and that so-called "progressives" - myself included - would be best served by the significant weakening of political parties and the corresponding strengthening of independent candidates.

It has always struck me as peculiar that those of us on the left side of the political spectrum should hold "organization", in the political sense, so dear to our collective heart (of *course* we have a collective heart - we do *everything* collectively. You should see us shower). Cursing the influence of "corporations" in the political process, nobody is more thrilled to use them when it suits our purposes. Political parties, unions, not-for-profits - all are corporations, and their lack of profit-seeking does not make them any less so. Claiming that politics should be about people, we simultaneously encourage conformity ("solidarity") over individuality. Politics are (as Roman is fond of pointing out) a team sport.

Okay, so we're flaming hypocrites, but that's a departure from my main point, which is that we're also strategic buffoons. Want evidence? Have a look at the list of people Canadians recently selected as the ten greatest among us to ever live: Fred Banting, Alexander Graham Bell, Don Cherry, Tommy Douglas, Terry Fox, Wayne Gretzky, John A. MacDonald, Lester Pearson, David Suzuki, and Pierre Trudeau. We'll disregard Banting, Bell, Fox, and Gretzky, since the accomplishments that earned them a place on the list were wholly apolitical (Bell we'll disregard also because he wasn't a Canadian). Of the remainder, all but Cherry are identified primarily with leftist causes - Douglas with Medicare, MacDonald with the railroad (a massive public works project funded at the taxpayer's expense) and the conciliation of different national groups, Pearson with pioneering work in the field of multilateral humanitarian intervention in the world's trouble spots, Suzuki with environmentalism, and Trudeau with the Charter of Rights and official Bilingualism and Multiculturalism. In Cherry's case, I believe he was selected more because of his work on hockey and the style in which he espouses his viewpoints than for the viewpoints themselves. Nobody made it on to that list by balancing budgets or creating a climate conducive to economic growth or introducing stiffer penalties for repeat offenders or even negotiating international trade treaties. Canada, in short, is a country of raving socialists, and yet somehow we've never even managed to push socialists into the role of official federal opposition, let alone government. Ergo, buffoons.

Why have we not managed to convince more than a relative handful of this socialist country's population to vote socialist? I would submit that the major reason is that our political culture is one based on labels. There are plenty of Canadians who believe that the public purse should ensure that everybody has access to equal health care and education, who will willingly pay higher taxes in pursuit of these ideals, who believe in truly equal rights for women, visible minorities, and homosexuals, and who want to see Canada chart a foreign policy based more on altruism than on self-interest, and who will yet recoil at the idea of handing the reigns of government to socialists, or New Democrats, or unionists. Their ideals are in line with ours, but the recoil at the labels affixed to us. And yet, through our insistence on organization and on adopting systems, like PR, that empower political parties at the expense of individual members, we encourage people to vote on the basis of labels. Not one of Trudeau, MacDonald, or Pearson would ever have become Prime Minister of this country if they'd called themselves socialists at the time of their candidacies, and Suzuki and Tommy Douglas couldn't get elected as either Greens or New Democrats in most ridings of this country - as an independent running against other independents, though, all three would be locks.

Want more evidence? Let's look at the recent Edmonton municipal election. Plenty of people who would never dream of voting Conservative, including me, supported Stephen Mandel for mayor. But a Conservative is exactly what Stephen Mandel is. Likewise, plenty of people backed Michael Phair who would never vote New Democrat. Political parties help only weak candidates - to strong ones, they're albatrosses.

Not that the New Democrats should immediately dissolve and all their candidates run as independents - in our current structure, that would be suicide. But the New Democratic Party, as a corporation with considerable influence in the Canadian political process, should work towards its own redundancy, rather than seeking to entrench a body that by its reputation, deserved or otherwise, condemns to defeat Canada's brightest progressives each and every election.


Wednesday, October 27, 2004

It is not the concept of nation that is retrograde; it is the idea that the nation must necessarily be sovereign.

Trudeau's La Nouvelle Trahison des Clercs can still bring me closer to orgasm than any other piece of writing.


Monday, October 25, 2004

A tale of three websites

So I promised I'd post a little more on my U.S. election predictions. To begin with, I'd like to give some credit where it's due and identify the three websites I've been using to follow this thing and to formulate my own thoughts.

Number one with a bullet is the New York Times Interactive Election Guide. It's the best of the three, I think, because it's tends to be a little more inert, and doesn't go fanatically changing its projections every time something untoward happens. Beyond that, it has, as the name suggests, a pile of cool interactive features.

The highest profile of the three sites I've used is electoral-vote.com. It's been getting a lot of attention, which is a shame because it's not really very good. I mean, polls are all very well and good, but as I write this the site has, among other things, got Hawaii in the Bush column. Hawaii, which Gore won in 2000 by more than eighteen percent, and which hasn't gone Republican since 1984 (when, to be fair, every single state except Minnesota chose Reagan over Mondale). Mind you, it compensates for this with the almost as ludicrouse classifications of Colorado as "Barely Kerry" and Arkansas as "Exactly Tied". If Hawaii goes Bush or either Colorado or Arkansas goes Kerry, I'll drink a warm cup of my own semen.

The last of the three, which is something of a counterbalance to electoral-vote.com, is race2004.net, which is presently making the indefensible prediction of Kerry winning the election 300 votes to 238, a conclusion it reaches by pretty much assigning every undecided state to Kerry on the basis that "undecided voters usually vote for the challenger".

More to come. . .

Click here for more Steve

No, not there - here.

I don't generally like to link to things I've said elsewhere, but I couldn't let the recommendations of B.C.'s Citizens Assembly pass without some sort of comment here, nor could I let the fact that, on a blog with at least five or six hard core structural hacks, I was the first to post on the subject.

Besides, you should all be reading POI anyway.


Sunday, October 24, 2004

Four more years!
My extremely pessimistic election prediction


North Carolina
North Dakota
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia


District of Columbia
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
Rhode Island

Bush wins, 281 to 257.

I'll update this with some further predictions later.


Saturday, October 23, 2004

Stephen Mandel, Cabinet Maker

So I assume that everybody has by now heard about Edmonton Mayor-Elect Stephen Mandel's plan to create a "municipal cabinet", in which each Councillor would be assigned responsibility for some area of municipal jurisdiction (e.g. transit, housing, etc.).

My initial reaction was that this was a bad idea. It seemed to me as though it blurred the lines between executive and legislative functions, and that it could pervert the constituent-Councillor bond by requiring the Councillor to work on those areas Council considers important rather than the one that constituents consider important. I had even gone some way towards composing a rebuttal on POI to Chris Jones's endorsement of the idea.

However, further reflection has softened my opinion somewhat. These portfolios can be perhaps best considered as committees of one, and I do not believe that anything the results in a more effective municipal committee system could be a bad thing. If this allows City Council to function with input from a greater variety of sources, allows Councillors to develop a higher degree of expertise in the areas under its jurisdiction, thereby decreasing reliance on the city administration, it's a good thing. And I'm willing to give almost any idea Mandel floats about now a chance.

Later: why progressives should eschew partisan politics, using Stephen Mandel and the CBC's "Greatest Canadian" survey as examples of why.

At some point: My pick for the Greatest Canadian.

(Note: given my slacker attitude towards this blog, it's possible that one or both of the above entries will not actually appear.)


Friday, October 22, 2004

Why I Like Ralph Nader

I like Ralph Nader. This shouldn't come as a surprise to you if you know my politics, or read my blog, or know anything about the Students' Union Executive Committee on which I sat, or saw the title of this post.

But my affection for Ralph Nader transcends mere politics. First of all, I like the fact that he is running for President, and getting all sorts of media attention, and garnering enough to support to be seen as a factor in a few key states, all without having any people skills. It's inspirational, really.

"Inspirational", of course, being exactly how Mr. Nader's speech at the U of A's Myer Horowitz Theatre two years ago was described by many. And why not? It was a fine speech. But more inspirational still was the conversation that occurred in a car containing Nader, Crazy Mike Hudema, and myself, which is paraphrased below.

Awkward Silence.

Mike Hudema:
So do you think it's possible for the public interest to successfully align itself against the combined force of the private interest that dominate the world's finances, media, and politics, when existing political structures favour the continuation of the current entrenched interests?

Awkward Silence.

Ralph Nader: I'm sorry, was that a question?

My other major reason for liking Ralph Nader came when I was listening to Democracy Now! on CJSR, and heard Amy Goodman interviewing him. What struck me most about that interview was that he was actually doing the unthinkable: blaming voters for the bozos they keep electing. That's right, instead of sucking up to voters, like other politicians, and claiming that George Bush mislead them (which he did, but in a highly transparent fashion) and that voters elected him because they bought into his lies, and who good blame them, and the real villain here is the corporate media and the moneyed interests, Nader pretty much said that the reason Americans elected Bush and were about to re-elect him is that they're dumber than shit. I love that! As a voter - and I speak in dead earnest - there's nothing I like better than a politician who will identify the source of the problem, even if (especially if) that source is me!

So go Ralph! Well, except in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. I hope you get zero votes in each of those states.


Wednesday, October 20, 2004

There's a flower on the hat on the flea on the hair on the wart on the frog on the bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea

Dispatches from Blogland:

1. Chris Samuel, best known as being the best Business Councillor in Students' Union history, has risen from the dead.

2. Mike Garlough, who most of you know only from legend (those of you who have heard me talk about a friend who reminds me of The Big Lebowski's Walter were hearing about Mike) has started a blog. If you can ignore Mike's frequent molestation of the English language, it will likely be a good read.

3. Hairshirt is still the best random blog I've ever come across.

Sidebar to be updated soon.

A list of the surreal things to have happened to me over the last twenty-four hours

1. While in the men's washroom at RATT, I was reading one of those bathroom ads over one of the urinals. It was for ed Magazine, part of its series that features intriguing quotes from its magazine shown out of context. On this ad, the quote was something like "I'm probably the world's fattest contortionist. I mean, the people in Cirque de Soleil can probably do some stuff that I can't, but for Christ's sake, eat a sandwich." Somebody had, in pen, ascribed this quote to "Steve Smith".

2. This morning at 1:15, my sister burst into my room and asked if I knew anything about "this S.U. thing." It could be argued, Heather, that I know little about anything else.


Tuesday, October 19, 2004


So, just as I predicted, the St. Albert election results sucked. Just as I predicted, Jung-Suk Ryu got himself a well-deserved thrashing. But there were a couple of things I didn't predict: the Red Sox won, and Stephen Mandel got himself elected Mayor Of Edmonton.

It's fashionable at times like these for the self-satisfied pundits (and, foolish as they are, regular readers of this space will surely realize that no pundit is more self-satisfied than this one) to say that they told you so. I didn't. I didn't tell you anything approximating this. If I had bothered to tell you anything, I would have told you that Bill Smith would eke out a narrow victory over Robert Noce, and that Mandel would finish a distant third. This was completely unexpected, and somewhat inspiring, really.

I mean, Professor Lightbody was predicting that either Smith or Noce had a chance, and that who won would depend on who did a better job of mobilizing their support. He also predicted voter turnout closer to twenty-five percent than the thirty-five. What happened? Smith and Noce both mobilized their support, resulting in a voter turnout of more than forty percent. And a bunch of people hitherto unattached to any campaign came out and supported the best man. So, rich businessman though he is, on some level this has the look of a populist outpouring.

There's more, too: Stephen Mandel ought to be, by all rights, a lousy politician. He's never minced a word, beaten around a bush, or suffered a fool gladly in his life, and he lacks the Trudeau-esque charisma to pull it off. But he's given hope to all the abrasive, uncharismatic, and condescending (Shannon: note proper spelling) among us who would aspire to public office. Such a person can win (as long as, the cynics among you hasten to add, such a person has piles of business connections and thousands of dollars to spend on advertising, to which I respond "Stop raining on my parade, asshole"). Roman Kotovych called Mandel the Steve Smith of civic politics: "He's abrasive, he has ideas, he's got all the major endorsements, and he's going to lose." Right on most counts, Roman, but not all. Sleep with one eye open.

More lessons: Mandel spent lots and won. But Jung-Suk Ryu spend more than any other candidate in Ward 5. It would not surprise me if he spent more than any other Councillor candidate in the city - at any rate, he must surely be among the top five. And he finished sixth. There's some justice in the world, even if his collapse was for all the wrong reasons - that he committed the relatively minor sin of inventing a campaign manager, rather than that he committed the much greater sin of being in politics only for himself. Instead, Mike Nickel won; there's work to be done yet.

Stephen Mandel's not perfect - he's much more pro-development than me (despite being the only one of the three candidates to support a lobbyist registry), and has more of a temper than I'd like in a mayor. But I put to you that that matters less than the fact that instead of a mindless cheer-leader or an unabashed ladder-climber in City Hall, Edmonton's now got a genuine straight-shooter.

Start shooting, Stephen.


Sunday, October 17, 2004

A really long boring post about municipal politics

St. Albert municipal politics, no less. More specifically, how I'm voting in tomorrow's election.

(This post will only make sense to people who already have some degree of familiarity with the candidates running. If you lack such familiarity, and for some reason wish to read this post anyway, I suggest you check out my St. Albert Election Recap first.)

I'll start with the choices for Councillor. There will be twenty-one choices on the ballot, of which I will be voting for six. Starting with some process of elimination is probably the easiest way to proceed.

The easiest elimination of all goes to Jerry Voss. Not that Mr. Voss would make a bad Councillor. In fact, he might make a great Councillor - I really know very little about him. But he's announced that he no longer wants the job, so I'll not be forcing it upon him.

Only slightly harder to reject are James Burrows, Michael Cooper, and Stanley Haroun, because none of the three answered the eleven simple questions I sent them at the beginning of the campaign. Mind you, Mr. Haroun's probably the only one who actually lost anything by not doing so, since Mr. Burrows and Mr. Cooper were pretty well off of my list from the get-go. Mr. Burrows has been mediocre as an alderman, breaking even the very modest promise that got him elected, a plebiscite on the West Road. A deservedly (and soundly) defeated candidate in the 1998 election who got in in 2001 almost exclusively on the strength of an endorsement from the shadowy and nefarious S.E.N.S.I.B.L.E. Choice lobby group, Mr. Burrows has been largely ineffective since taking office. Mr. Cooper, for his part, it a dogmatic twit. His "commentary" on federal issues has consisted entirely of spouting the platform of his favourite candidate, generally Stockwell Day. He has said nothing of substance in the municipal campaign, and richly deserves the defeat coming to him.

Also not responding to my questions were Brian Kendrick and Ben van de Walle, though they had better excuses: not having e-mail addresses, they never actually received them (Curtis Krenbrenk also lacks an e-mail address, but he was willing to respond to my questions in writing - more on him later). I was also unable to arrange a phone conversation with either. Mr. van de Walle is easy to reject, since his entire platform consisted of securing "an adequate supply of land for the next twenty years". Seriously. Every question he was asked somehow got connected to an adequate supply of land (which, fortunately, he refrained from describing as lebensraum). This wouldn't be quite so bad if St. Albert was not already in the midst of proceedings to - gasp! - secure an adequate supply of land for the next twenty years. Mr. van de Walle's major campaign tactic of standing by the Newman Theological College with a big banner waving at passing cars also did little to impress me. Mr. Kendrick was a little tougher to reject, and I considered voting for him for a time for his blunt manner head on approach to issues. Eventually, however, I concluded that what little I knew of his plans was bunk. Beyond that, he failed to answer many of the questions posed of him by the St. Albert Gazette.

Len Bracko did respond to my questions but, as with Mr. Burrows, his record on Council has been enough to convince me that he doesn't deserve my vote (and I voted for him last time). In a one-issue campaign, he was elected promising to build Ray Gibbon Drive instead of the West Road favoured by the rest of the candidates who were elected. He has proceeded to do precisely fuck all in to push this agenda. He is not identified with any substantive initiatives, and has allowed himself to be pushed around on most controversial ones. After voting for him provincially twice and municipally once, Len Bracko's not getting my vote this election.

Into the next category of rejects fall Neil Feser and Bob Lewis, both of whom offer answers that are meagre and superficial. They agree with the status quo in almost every regard, and when they don't they offer such specific solutions as "I think [transit] is an area that we could easily get more input from the public as to what they want to see happen and then act on it as soon as possible" (Feser) and "If a no vote [on the Recreation Centre plebiscite], we must find out why it was a no vote and respond to the wishes of the electorate" (Lewis). Sorry, guys, there are too many candidates for that kind of stuff to pass muster.

Kerry Kineshanko is in a class of his own, though probably not a good one. When S.E.N.S.I.B.L.E. Choice was selecting the candidates it wished to endorse in its agenda of getting the West Road built, it selected only five aldermanic candidates rather than add Mr. Kineshanko (or Bob Coulter, another pro-Road candidate) to its list, which probably tells you most of what you need to know about him. The hell of it is, I don't even disagree with much of what he says (beyond his support for the West Road), but he comes across as grasping and amibitious (he runs in pretty well every election available to him), adversarial and histrionic ("Those in favour of amending the [smoking] bylaw are against democracy and the health of St. Albertans and in favour of special interest groups"), and unprofessional (witness his website - or, for that matter, his business's website). I cannot endorse him.

We then hit a pack of generally acceptable but unremarkable candidates: Christine Brown, Nolan Crouse, and Malcolm Parker. All three support the bulk of the work done by the incumbent Council - the West Road (even sans plebiscite), the smoking bylaw, the seeking of an injunction against the proposed Hunter Ridge development - and none of them offer any real suggestions of the previous Council's shortcomings (Mr. Crouse goes so far as to identify, as its greatest failing, that "its public image was not well-maintained"). If you like the status quo and are looking for a quiet three years in municipal politics, any of the three are acceptable, with Ms. Brown appearing to have a stronger grasp of most of the major issues than the other two.

The last candidate I outright reject - as painful as it is to do so - is Randy Duguay. Mr. Duguay has demonstrated a commitment to St. Albert, having volunteered countless hours on city commissions and with advocacy groups. He has a better understanding of the relevant issues than any other candidate who has not held public office, except maybe Matt Boiko. He has not hidden behind any vague platitudes or feel-good statements, having provided detailed answers to my questions (and he actually seemed enthusiastic to be doing so). I would be pleased to have him as one of my Councillors, except for one thing: I disagree with most of what he has to say. An early proponent of the West Road, he has not wavered in this assessment, he goes so far as to make the dubious assertion that "the previously outlined Ray Gibbon Drive proposal had. . . equivalent environmental issues as compared to the current alignment". He is, at best, lukewarm on public transit, which is a key priority of mine. So, sorry Mr. Duguay - if it's any comfort to you, elections consistently show that I'm out of step with what most St. Albertans believe.

This narrows things down to eight candidates for six positions. To narrow things down further, I'll now start at the other end: identifying candidates who clearly deserve my vote.

Near the top of this list would have to be Neil Korotash (and I didn't vote for him last time around). Besides his detailed (and, as a bonus, non-patronizing) responses to my questions, he has a record of responding whenever there is public confusion surrounding any issue before Council. His support for the West Road aside (and, even there, he is the only incumbent alderman to actually keep his promise of supporting a plebiscite on the matter), he generally shares my value set, especially around affordable housing and transit. Anyway, it's nice to see a young person in politics who doesn't fit the partisan ladder-climber template filled by Mr. Cooper in St. Albert and Jung-Suk Ryu in Edmonton. In designing a follow-up to a Council with which I was generally displeased, Mr. Korotash allows me to support a shred of continuity.

Next up on my list of candidates who are getting my vote is Bob Russell. Mr. Russell is a politician's politician of the old school, with his literature showing him exiting city hall in a three piece suit and his answers to my questions including the assertion that the current Council "couldn't organize a piss up in a brewery". He's a partisan Liberal, which would be a strike against him, except that he has shown the ability to work cooperatively in a non-partisan atmosphere. Defeated in 2001 after a distinguished career in municipal politics, Mr. Russell, now well into his seventies, elected to forego retirement from political life in favour of becoming active with the Big Lake Environmental Support Society to continue working for what he believes. He has been a thorn in the side of this Council at all stops, and has earned my vote now as he did last time.

Also on the list of people making a repeat appearance among my endorsements is Matt Boiko. While Mr. Boiko seems to have decided that the fight against the West Road is lost, he at least (unlike Paul Chalifoux) retains the integrity to hold to his previous position that the choice made by Council was the wrong one. Additionally, he is among the most supportive candidates on affordable housing and transit, aiming to increase ridership rather than cut the system to conform to existing reidership. He takes a reasonable line on the rec centre, supporting a No vote but pledging to get it built as currently planned in the event of a Yes vote and, like Mr. Russell, supports a libertarian-ish stance on the smoking bylaw, which appeals to me. His rather churlish and inaccurate assertion that "this council has done nothing positive or productive for the City of St. Albert" aside, Matt Boiko is again one of the best six candidates on the ballot.

Al Henry's something of an enigma (he's also a neighbour of mine, so I might be biased in his favour). While he has a Conservative Party sign up come every federal election, in his opposition to the West Road he finds himself among environmentalists and socialists, as he does in his support of an increased subsidy for public transit. He makes a lot of stunning and dubious accusations, especially surrounding the West Road, but every Council can use a maverick. He was my choice for the role in 2001, and he is again.

This leaves three candidates vying for my remaining two votes: Frances Badrock, Lorie Garritty, and Curtis Krenbrenk. Ms. Badrock and Mr. Krenbrenk are cut from generally the same cloth - passionate rather than rational, opponents of the West Road, and not all together up to speed on many of the issues facing Council. Mr. Krenbrenk edges out Ms. Badrock because of his inclusive vision, demonstrable open-mindedness, and willing to take issues head on - he says on the Smoking Bylaw that "the compromise is separate rooms with ventilation and air quality standards", while Ms. Badrock says only "if the citizens of St. Albert ask for this issue to be revisited, then Council must revisit it". Mr. Krenbrenk probably isn't qualified to be a Councillor at the present time, but I'm willing to let him grow into it.

The choice, then, comes down to this: Ms. Badrock or Mr. Garritty. I really like most of what Mr. Garritty says, as well as the balanced approach he takes to recognizing the incumbent Council's achievements and acknowledging its shortcomings. Alone among supporters of the West Road, he even admits that continually building new roads is no way to solve the city's transportation problems in the long-term, and that transit will have to figure large in future plans. The thing is, he supports to West Road, and Ms. Badrock doesn't. After thirty years, this election is likely to finally confirm the West Road as the solution to the city's transportation woes, which it isn't and never will be. The electorate has this final chance to stop it. I'm going to do my best to take it. Ms. Badrock it is.

For Mayor, Paul Chalifoux and Lynda Moffatt are easily dismissed as transparent seekers of power, willing to attempt to rewrite their own personal histories and to abandon integrity in the hopes of appealing to the largest number of voters they can. Mr. Chalifoux, defeated as mayor in 2001 over the West Road, now says that he supports the current alignment - not in a "the decision has been made, let's accept it and move on" sort of a way, but in a "this is the best alignment" sort of a way. Additionally, he's as much as said that he'd give away the farm in negotiations with Sturgeon County. Ms. Moffatt is criticizing the incumbent Council for its approach to negotiations with Sturgeon, when she voted on the prevailing side of almost all relevant votes. She's also one of the four alderman to have been elected on a promise of a road plebiscite, only to abandon it within months. There's little enough integrity in politics as it is, I'll not aggravate the problem by voting for one of these bozos.

John Smith, while a very appealing candidate in many ways with his kilt and Scottish thrift, must also be rejected. His answers to my questions simply lack the depth required of somebody hoping to be mayor. He'd likely have had my vote if he was seeking an aldermanic seat, along the same lines as Krenbrenk, but he's just not qualified for the top job.

Richard Plain's the incumbent, and actually looked like he might get my vote at first. Sure, he's pompous, arrogant, condascending, and abrasive, but a future blog entry will see me making the case for Pierre Trudeau as the greatest Canadian, so these things obviously don't bother me. Like Mr. Korotash, he attempted to keep his promise of a plebiscite on the West Road. I accept his version of things over Mr. Chalifoux's on negotiations with Sturgeon County, and trust him to stand up for the interests of St. Albert. While I haven't much cared for his voting record on Council, by nomination day I'd resigned myself to holding my nose and supporting his re-election.

Then Dave Burkhart came along, espousing pretty well all of what I believe. He would put top priority on stopping the West Road. He wants to see transit expanded radically. He supports slowing the city's growth, while acknowledging that zero growth isn't a realistic option. While he supports the present smoking bylaw, he also champions freedom of choice in most instances. While some of his more grandiose plans, especially around transit, will likely run up against the cold reality of available funds, I'm a believer in electing people with huge plans in the hopes that they'll achieve ten percent of them. Beyond that, I happen to know that he doesn't even want the job, and is running solely out of a sense of duty. It pains me to see opponents of the West Road looking at Mr. Chalifoux, who ran against it last time, when a better option is available.

So there's my Council: Dave Burkhart for mayor, and Frances Badrock, Matt Boiko, Al Henry, Neil Korotash, Curtis Krenbrenk, and Bob Russell as Councillors.

My prediction as to what I'll actually get: Paul Chalifoux for Mayor (with Richard Plain running a close second and nobody else even close), with Matt Boiko, Len Bracko, Nolan Crouse, Randy Duguay, Lorie Garritty, and Neil Korotash on Council (with Christine Brown and Bob Russell nipping at their heels, James Burrows and Michael Cooper not too far back, and nobody else even close). Sigh.

Vote today, y'all.


Thursday, October 14, 2004

Blogs! Futons! Ambitions!

Shannon Phillips has started a blog. This is exciting for a number of reasons (I won't know what number until I get to the end of my list):

1. Shannon is one of the smartest people I know.
2. In her first post, she expresses hope that she will one day be as famous as me. Dream on, Shannon.

It appears the number was two.

Still to come: Nader! Mandel!


Monday, October 11, 2004

Rewarding Bad Behaviour

Vanessa Thomas, who recently removed her blog again (much to my chagrin), has complained that my blog no longer features the hilarious anecdotes that it allegedly once did. With that in mind, here's another story about the epic struggle waged between myself and Tex-Bitch, my grade eleven English teacher.

We'd just read Beowulf. We were assigned the task of writing a paper comparing and contrasting Beowulf to another Anglo-Saxon hero of our choosing. I didn't know of any other Anglo-Saxon heroes, and I was far too busy (mostly thinking of ways to make her life miserable) to do any research into one, so I decided to invent one: the legendary Larynx Carboxyl (we were covering the larynx in Biology, and Carboxylic acids in Chemistry at the time).

Anyway, I wrote my paper, and it was good. I mean really good. I talked about pathos, even, despite not being entirely clear on its meaning. Perhaps it was pride in this work that caused me to volunteer to read it in front of the class, which was, in hindsight, a mistake, because it made people in my class laugh.

Oh, this made Tex-Bitch happy. She smiled her frog-like Texan smile, and asked to speak to me after class.

"Did you really think you could get away with this?" she asked, "I mean, how dumb do you think I am?"

Unusually (for me), I recognized that this was one of those so-called "rhetorical questions", which shouldn't be answered, and certainly not honestly. I remained silent.

"Who is that, anyway?" she followed up, "a football player or something?"

"Yes," I said seriously, "he was a running back for the Ottawa Rough Riders in the early eighties."

"Well, don't mess with me again, Steve."

I spent the rest of the year messing with her.


Friday, October 08, 2004

Feeling terrible, killing time

This has nothing to do with Ralph Nader, but I've updated the "Everything About Steve Smith" page to your right, to answer such FAQs as "If Steve Smith was a country, which one would he be?" and "If Steve Smith was a character on Family Guy, which one would he be?"


Thursday, October 07, 2004

If I was a subatomic particle, which one would I be? I did say "subatomic", mind you.

I'm not normally much for random blogsurfing, since I could probably spend the rest of my life reading them, but this one's pretty good.

Next: Why I like Ralph Nader.

Later: Why I like Stephen Mandel.

Never: Why I like Pauly Shore movies.


Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Ever notice how if you live long enough every Leonard Cohen lyric will have some meaning in your life?

So, during my length hiatus, periodic visitor to this space Anonymotron has started a blog. Additionally, Mustafa gives Kaitlyn relationship advice. So it's been a pretty awesome week, all in all.

(Oh - this is no longer my most popular blog, DJSR having surpassed it by a wide margin. It was fun while it lasted.)


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