About three years ago I met a doctor who had sat on a board that decides which dangerous offenders can safely be released into the community, after having served their time. Prisons are crowded in Alberta and understandably, the government wants to release criminals as quickly as possible. But safety is paramount, and all too often we read stories about criminals being released and then going on to reoffend, sometimes with tragic results.
This particular doctor consistently made his decisions based on community safety rather than expediency, with the result that he had his hospital privileges taken away for 11 months. I spoke with him shortly after he got them back and he agreed to give us an on camera interview about his experience. Just days before the interview was scheduled, he emailed me saying that his lawyer had advised him not to do anything that might upset the PC Government or Alberta Health Services (AHS). The interview was cancelled. That’s clearly doctor intimidation. A few months later, when an “open” inquiry was scheduled to examine our healthcare system, including excessive lineups and doctor intimidation, the PC government instructed the inquiry to leave out doctor intimidation.
There is a small community in southern Alberta that until 3 years ago had a nursing home for elderly people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. It was operated by local people under the direction of AHS. In the spring of 2012 the facility was inspected by the provincial government, and it passed with no significant problems. Later in the spring there was a provincial election, and, very unwisely as it turned out, the community did not elect the PC party candidate as their MLA. Two months later with no consultation, and no credible reason given, the facility was shut down.
I visited the community shortly after, and people were understandably upset. We arranged to conduct on camera interviews, but when I returned a few weeks later, no one would talk to me. Lesson learned. In Alberta if you go against the PCs, you’ll pay.
Last year I made several trips to Manyberries, a tiny hamlet of about 40 citizens an hour south of Medicine Hat in southeastern Alberta’s ranching country. As you’re driving across the rolling, empty prairie from Medicine Hat to Manyberries, you see a strange sight. It’s the steel towers of a major transmission line, appearing out of the east, and then going south towards Manyberries, then west again, and then who knows where? This power line, built by PC cronies, appears to be going from nowhere to nowhere in an area where cows vastly outnumber people.
Who knows why? Actually, who cares? Well you should, because by law, you, your children and grandchildren are going to pay for it. But the company that built it is guaranteed a 9% return on their investment, so they don’t care if the transmission line is needed or not. Actually, if you were guaranteed a 9% return on an investment, paid for by taxpayers, would it matter to you?
Alberta has a law that schedules a spring election every four years. The last election was 2012 so the next is due in the spring of 2016. A few months ago Premier Prentice said he would abide by the law. Then last week he said that an election would be called at a time when it is in the best interests of Albertans. Could I suggest it would be in the best interests of Albertans to have a government that follows the law?
But unfortunately for the law, an election a year early is in the best interests of the PC party. The Wildrose Party is essentially leaderless; the Liberals are leaderless, and the oil price drop hasn’t taken full effect. So now is the best time to extend their control another four years into the future. Because if the PCs were ever to lose power and a new government had the mandate to expose the intimidation, incompetence, collusion, and cronyism, it would be the end of the PC party, and it’s octopus-like grip on Alberta.
It’s actually very simple. The PCs must do whatever it takes to ensure that they stay in power, so, there will be an election this spring.