Susan on the Soapbox: When They Go Low: the Kenney by-election debate

On Sunday afternoon Mr and Ms Soapbox were jammed into an overheated community hall listening to five politicians explain why they were the best choice to represent the good citizens of Calgary-Lougheed in the by-election triggered when Dave Rodney stepped down to give UCP leader Jason Kenney a seat in the Legislature. The media characterized ...

Susan on the Soapbox: How Truth Dies

The UCP leadership race just began and already we’re being asked to choose between two conflicting versions of the truth. Jason Kenney says Brian Jean is a poor financial manager because Jean created a $337,000 deficit in the UCP caucus budget–apparently Jean embarked on a “massive hiring spree” to run a “shadow leadership campaign” at ...

Susan on the Soapbox: What Does a “Free Enterprise” Leader Look Like?

Jason Kenney promises to return Alberta to prosperity if Albertans vote for his Wildrose/PC “free enterprise” party. Given the paucity of information around what his “free enterprise” party stands for, we are left to assume Mr Kenney will emulate corporate “free enterprise” leaders if he ends up in the premier’s office. What does a good ...

Alberta Politics: Never mind the evidence! Full speed ahead! An expert unpacks Alberta’s unending experiment in health care staffing

PHOTOS: Nursing professional responsibility advisor Joshua Bergman addresses UNA’s annual general meeting in Edmonton Wednesday (Dave Cournoyer photo). Below: Conservative premier Ralph Klein, whose government began the province’s long experiment in health care staffing mixes as part of an ideologically motivated attack on social programs. For nigh on 20 years, health care workers in Alberta ...

Susan on the Soapbox: The K-Bro Linen Flap

Would someone snap a wet towel at the Opposition please? The Opposition is upset because Sarah Hoffman, the Health Minister, wants to see a business case on alternatives before she agrees to outsource the province’s healthcare laundry services to K-Bro Linen Inc. K-Bro started as an Edmonton-based diaper laundry service in the 1950s.  It moved ...

Susan on the Soapbox: How the Conservatives Spun Murray Edwards and Vicki Kaminski

This week the conservatives spun Murray Edwards’ decision to move to England and Vicki Kaminski’s decision to leave Alberta Health Services for a job in Australia to convince Albertans to ditch the NDP. The spin looked like this:  Facts [Edwards/Kaminski is leaving Alberta] plus conjecture [due to the NDP’s failed ideologically driven policies] equals disaster ...

Alberta Politics: Albertans will soon be able to ‘tap’ for ambulance service with new smartphone app

PHOTO: An artist’s rendering of what one of a new TAP-ulanceRX emergency care vehicle might look like. TAP-ulance Premium emergency vehicles will resemble conventional ambulances but offer a higher grade of gurney and a premium sound system, plus an attendant who may be trained. April 1, 2016 Residents of Alberta will soon be able to ...

Susan on the Soapbox: Five Resolutions for Rachel Notley

Ms Soapbox’s first round of New Year’s resolutions for a politician (Alison Redford) were ignored, but she’s a persistent soul and will try again. This time she’s prepared five resolutions for Premier Rachel Notley. Stay the course on your climate change policy (and all your energy related policies for that matter).     Ignore Wildrose leader Brian ...

Susan on the Soapbox: Jim Prentice’s Budget: The Not-So-Subtle Language of Money

“There is no fortress so strong that money cannot take it.” — Cicero On Mar 24, 2015 Jim Prentice sent Albertans a message of such heartless cynicism that only the most naïve amongst us would fail to understand. Money talks. Here’s what Jim Prentice’s Budget 2015* told Albertans. Corporations matter, you don’t When asked why ...

Susan on the Soapbox: The Interview We Wish We Had With Premier Prentice on Budget 2015

“I believe we show who we are, and how much we care, by what we do.”—Stephen Harper, Canada’s prime minister In his March 24 “State of the Province Address” Mr Prentice urged Albertans to receive his new budget in a spirit of openness. He said if we all act responsibly we can dig the government ...

Susan on the Soapbox: Laurie Blakeman Takes a Symbolic Step…in the Wrong Direction

Crikey! On Friday Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman announced that she’ll be running as a candidate for the Liberals, the Alberta Party and the Greens in the upcoming election… …and on Sunday Ms Soapbox announced to her dad that she’d joined the NDP.  He swears he’ll never speak to her again.   While I applaud the ...

Susan on the Soapbox: Mr Prentice: Premier or CEO?

“We have to do more with less. That will apply across the board. It will have to apply to the very good work [of the child advocate], it will have to apply to my office, it will have to apply to the auditor general’s office. That’s the way it’s going to be.” Jim Prentice defending ...

Susan on the Soapbox: The Sonic Boom: How Alberta Became an “Offshore Business” in the Pathology Market

Why does Stephen Mandel, the newly minted Minister of Health, think it’s a good idea for Alberta taxpayers to support the lifestyles of wealthy Australian businessmen who earn more than $13 million a year, their executive teams who get ridiculous bonuses and stock options and the Australian economy as a whole with corporate tax contributions? ...

Susan on the Soapbox: 194 ABCs and Why They Matter

The other day on the campaign trail I met a Bearded Dragon. He was curled up in the arms of a little girl, blinking sleepily in the afternoon sun. He practically purred when I stroked his chin. (Yes I know they don’t purr but I swear he smiled when I touched him). Bearded Dragon (smiling) ...

Susan on the Soapbox: Jim Prentice’s First Week in Office–Straight out of the Corporate Playbook

“As of this moment, Alberta is under new management.” — Jim Prentice, 16th Premier of Alberta* Transition. There’s nothing more unsettling; no, strike that, nerve-wracking, for an organization than a change-out of senior leadership, particularly when the old leader is universally regarded as an abject failure (will I be condemned by association?) and the new ...

Susan on the Soapbox: How a “Fiscally Conservative” Government Facing a $20 Billion Debt Delivers on its Promises

“Tonight, we begin the work of advancing and protecting sound, conservative fiscal principles.” —Future Premier Jim Prentice, victory speech, Sept 6, 2014 It hasn’t escaped Ms Soapbox’s notice that the party that bills itself as fiscally conservative has us on track for a $20 billion infrastructure debt—at a time when Alberta’s economy is booming.* Heaven ...

Susan on the Soapbox: Who Deserves A Severance Package: Ms Neala Barton or the AHS Executives?

 “de-mur: to make objection; especially on the grounds of scruples”—Dictionary.com Neala Barton has the uncanny ability to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and emerge unscathed. She was a communications staffer for Ontario health minister David Caplan—until he resigned over the eHealth scandal. She moved on to become Dalton McGuinty’s press secretary—until ...

Susan on the Soapbox: The Carpay Decision and a Canary

One can’t help but feel Dr Allen’s pain. In fact many of us have felt Dr Allen’s pain, although not to such a debilitating degree. Dr Allen is a 36 year old dentist from Okotoks. In Dec 2007 he injured his back playing hockey. He spent all of 2008 and part of 2009 doing the ...

Susan on the Soapbox: The Buck Stops Here — Privacy 101 for Minister Horne — A guest blog by lawyer Brian Thiessen

Susan on the Soapbox welcomes her first guest blogger.  Employment and privacy lawyer Brian Thiessen has a few words to say about a privacy breach that impacts 620,000 Albertans.  The title says it all.  The Buck Stops Here–Privacy 101 for Minister Horne–Incompetence is not a defence Like most Albertans, I have been reading, with interest ...

Susan on the Soapbox: Wolves and Rabbits: The $3 billion RFP for Lab Services

I was slogging through Alberta Health Service’s Request For Proposals (RFP) for a 15 year $3 billion contract to provide lab services in the Edmonton area when the words of a former boss popped to mind…The world is divided into wolves and rabbits. Wolves or rabbits?  Care to guess what we are.  Hint: we look ...

Susan on the Soapbox: Running with Scissors: Another AHS CEO Bites the Dust

It’s like running with scissors.  It’s only a matter of time before someone gets hurt. On Oct 17, 2013, Duncan Campbell took over as interim CEO of Alberta Health Services, replacing Dr Chris Eagle who abruptly resigned with two years left to go on his five year employment contract. Duncan Campbell Mr Campbell eagerly took ...

Susan on the Soapbox: Edmonton’s $3 Billion Super Lab: Where’s the business case?

Is there anyone left in the PC government with a lick of common sense? Last week the NDP revealed that the government intends to outsource lab services to a private corporation and has initiated a Request for Proposal (RFP) process to award a $3 billion, 15 years contract to a single provider.  Health Minister Horne ...

Susan on the Soapbox: Consultation 0005: Greater Transparency or Interfering with a Doctor’s “Right” to Get Rich?

 Do doctors have the “democratic” right to charge whatever the market will bear for “uninsured” medical services?  Or do the principles of universality and accessibility under the Canada Health Act still apply to the practice of medicine in Alberta? Apparently some physicians feel they’re underpaid (join the club) and want to get on the “uninsured ...

Susan on the Soapbox: The Smith vs Mason Debate: An Enlightening Evening

“Tonight we will witness a debate of Epic Proportions!  “In the Right Corner, the Freedom Fighter—Danielle Smith!!!  In the Left Corner, the Protector of the People—Brian Mason!!!”  Mount Royal University was hosting the ninth and final debate between Wildrose leader, Danielle Smith, and NDP leader, Brian Mason.  We expected to see sinewy kickboxers pouncing on ...

Susan on the Soapbox: Janet Davidson is appointed Deputy Minister of Health

Janet Davidson The Redford government just passed an Order in Council appointing Janet Davidson Deputy Minister of Health.  This decision has many implications, not the least of which is this:  Will Ms Davidson continue in her role as Official Administrator of Alberta Health Services?  Is she legally allowed to perform both roles and collect two ...