Thanks to Tom Lukaszuk’s memo, Albertans know it wasn’t just Alison Redford with the entitlement problem

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Members of the Alberta government’s Public Affairs Bureau spin a good yarn in response to freedom of information requests filed ages ago by Alberta journalists, opposition politicians and other busybodies. Actual government propaganda officials may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Labour Minister Thomas Lukaszuk, Information Commissioner Jill Clayton and Finance Minister Doug Horner.


Albertans owe Thomas Lukaszuk a small gesture of thanks for illustrating it’s not just Alison Redford who had the problem with entitlement.

Surely it’s a sense of entitlement that drives the attitude, all too typical among members of Alberta’s still-ruling Progressive Conservative elite, that the rules are for everyone else.

And the view that the rules are not for PCs but just for the rest of us is, pretty obviously, what was behind the former deputy premier’s Nov. 29 memorandum, revealed Tuesday by the Wildrose Opposition, that ordered his Redford Government cabinet colleagues’ press secretaries to slow down and control freedom of information requests that had the potential to make the government look bad.

Well, it would actually be surprising if it even occurred for a fraction of a second to Mr. Lukaszuk, who is now the labour minister, that this might amount to an improper effort to interfere with what got released, or how long it took to release it.

That’s what entitlement is all about, isn’t it? Why would he – or any member of the PC government then or now – think that whatever they darn well pleased might not be entirely proper? After all, they’re the Tory dynasty, and they can do as they wish, thank you very much!

I also imagine that Information Commissioner Jill Clayton’s sotto voce suggestion at the time that Mr. Lukaszuk might want to reconsider this course of action was greeted with incredulity, and then anger, when it was sent to him. How dare she! Doesn’t she know who I am?

As always with this secretive and entitled government, whatever generation of it we happen to be dealing with, potentially controversial data just isn’t willingly provided to mere members of the public, let alone reporters and opposition politicians – and certainly not without the Public Affairs Bureau first getting the opportunity to spin it as hard as they like.

This is useful to know because Mr. Lukaszuk is likely to eventually get around to revealing himself as a candidate to wear the mantle last worn by Ms. Redford and Dave Hancock, the premier pro tempore. Like the other candidates, most of whom will also be Tory insiders who were once part of the Redford Government and are now part of Mr. Hancock’s ministry, he will try to portray himself as something completely different.

It will be only Ms. Redford, in this misleading version of events, who was the aberration – entitled, out of touch, even personally greedy, and not at all representative of the PC values that deserve yet another chance to govern, just one more time…

Perhaps that’s why Mr. Hancock raised no fuss at Ms. Redford’s desire to continue to be paid, even while she doesn’t do her work as an MLA.

What the Opposition revelations of Mr. Lukaszuk’s and other senior Tories’ past conduct really show is that’s not really the whole story. The entitlement problem runs deeper than one premier, or a single MLA. It’s endemic to the Alberta Tory Party.

So whatever faults she may have possessed as premier, we need to be skeptical when the Hancock version of her party tries to pass off the excesses of the recent past as the sins of Alison Redford and none else.

Mr. Lukaszuk has unintentionally illustrated with his memo that the problem runs much deeper. And for that, if little else, we should be grateful to him.

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Only 32 of 57 PCs manage to vote for candidate Doug Horner’s budget

Speaking of former members of Ms. Redford’s cabinet and current members of Mr. Hancock’s largely unchanged ministry who are interested in being the next PC to inhabit the premier’s Legislative office, what does yesterday evening’s vote on Doug Horner’s budget portend for the finance minister?

No actual news stories about this have found their way to this dampish corner of the West Coast just yet, but the Twitter feed from Edmonton indicates only 32 of the government’s 57 remaining MLAs could bestir themselves to vote for the still-undeclared Tory leadership candidate’s budget!

Indeed, perhaps out of embarrassment, Mr. Horner himself apparently didn’t manage to show up to vote for his own budget, which nevertheless managed to scrape through third reading with 33 votes, the extra one coming from Independent Donna Kennedy-Glans.

So, while this wasn’t technically a vote of non-confidence, it sure doesn’t sound like a resounding vote of confidence, either, in Mr. Horner’s abilities and appeal.

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Conservatives are at 24 Sussex Drive, so outrage averted, thank goodness!

Can you imagine how Conservatives would have reacted if an ambulance had to be called to prime minister Justin Trudeau’s residence with an under-aged girl suffering from the effects of drinking too much?

It’s almost too much to contemplate!

Thankfully, it’s the family of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper that nowadays resides at the PM’s official residence at 24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa, so media has been quite responsible and restrained in reporting that an 18-year-old girl was taken to hospital from that address yesterday with suspected alcohol poisoning.

An 18th birthday party was under way for one of the Harper scions at the time. The legal drinking age in Ontario is 19 and it is illegal in that province to serve alcohol to minors. Nevertheless, from 24 Sussex one can see Quebec, where it is legal for 18-year-olds to drink, so it’s probably OK

The Mounties, who are responsible for the Harper family’s security, are reported to have said they do not consider this a police matter. End of story.

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