Stephen Mandel, at right, when he was health minister in 2014, with premier Jim Prentice, who appointed him before he was elected (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Who says Premier Jason Kenney can’t unite Albertans?

Sometime today, Mr. Kenney will appoint Stephen Mandel to the governing board of Alberta Health Services. Well, the announcement will be made by Health Minister Tyler Shandro.

Mr. Mandel in one of his trademark bowties and frequently changed fashion frames (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Late yesterday, as the word of the appointment leaked out, moans of despair could be heard quietly issuing from all points of the province’s political compass.

After all, just for starters, the former Edmonton mayor is “a meddling busybody, eat your peas, nanny statist.”

Don’t take my word for that. That line is Lorne Gunter’s, made by the reliably right-wing Postmedia columnist back in the fall of 2014, not long after then Progressive Conservative premier Jim Prentice made Mr. Mandel his unelected health minister.

Mr. Mandel did manage to get elected a month after his appointment in a by-election in Edmonton-Whitemud, a generally safe Conservative riding, where he served as MLA for seven months until the NDP sweep on May 5, 2015. Notwithstanding the majority victory of Mr. Kenney’s United Conservative Party last April, though, Edmonton-Whitemud remains an NDP riding.

Former Alberta Party leader Greg Clark, ousted from that role in one of Mr. Mandel post-mayoral manoeuvres (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

It will be interesting to see how Mr. Gunter, who was worried Mr. Mandel might ban menthol tobacco, reacts to the former minister’s latest public job now that the conservative columnist’s wife has been appointed by Mr. Kenney’s government to the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

For their part, public health-care advocates recall how Mr. Mandel was the only Alberta health minister ever to refuse to enforce his own department’s regulations, at least when it came to minimum staffing requirements for the province’s nursing homes.

Mr. Mandel’s major accomplishment during his short tenure as health minister seems to have been an insignificant reorganization of monolithic AHS’s management structure that the Prentice Government tried to pass off as a major decentralization of health care as demanded in those days by the now defunct Wildrose Party. He left mentholated tobacco to be banned by the NDP in 2015.

Conservative Postmedia columnist Lorne Gunter (Photo: Facebook).

Speaking of deceased political parties, I’m sure that supporters of the all-but-dead Alberta Party recall less than fondly the mess Mr. Mandel left when he developed an interest in them, managed to oust their capable leader and only MLA, Greg Clark, then led the party to an ignominious total defeat with zero seats in last April’s election.

After that, he swiftly announced he was resigning and leaving the Alberta Party to its fate.

Indeed, after his successful three-term run as Edmonton’s chief magistrate ended in 2013, Mr. Mandel, 74, seems to have left a trail of devastation in his attempts to get out of the house and return to public life.

That is unlikely to change. Calgary Herald political columnist Don Braid claimed late yesterday that Premier Kenney “hopes this will be seen as a symbol of cross-party co-operation during the health-care upheaval to come.” You all know what that means.

Still, it’s nice to know that in Premier Kenney’s back-to-the-future Conservative Alberta, failure is no barrier to success!

School board overwhelmingly supports amnesty for protesting students

About that Edmonton public school board vote to declare an amnesty from academic consequences for students who walk out of their classes tomorrow to take part in a global strike for climate action demonstration at the Alberta Legislature: Trustee Michael Janz’s motion passed with ease.

Edmonton public school Trustee Sherry Adams (Photo: Facebook).

The only opposition to the 6-1 vote Tuesday evening came from Trustee Sherry Adams, who argued the “science is not settled” on climate change. Ms. Adams was an unsuccessful UCP nomination candidate in the lead-up to the April provincial election that saw a UCP majority elected.

“I believe we’re doing our students a disservice by not allowing them to hear a different narrative,” she told her gobsmacked fellow trustees.

Well, this kind of qualified scepticism is obviously still de rigueur in UCP circles, where they’re doubtless fuming about the un-Albertan behaviour of the capital city’s public school trustees. Ms. Adams has also opposed evidence-based sex education.

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  1. I’ll start by saying I liked Mandel as mayor and thought he did a good job. However, his winning streak sure quickly ended when he jumped onto provincial politics.

    He seemed to turn into Sisyphus and AHS became his stone. Here’s a thought, maybe years of experience as a business man and municipal politician are not necessarily the best experience for running a large, complex, modern health organization. Although, if they really want to close a bunch of rural hospitals now, maybe Mandel is their man. Perhaps he is also the latest incarnation of the cookie eating former AHS CEO who soon became a lightning rod for everyone’s discontent. At least he kept the discontent from focusing on the government too much and after the dirty work was done he was replaced by ministers and CEOs more ammenable and bland and everything seemed temporarily better.

    I suspect this appointment also has the added benefit of keeping the only Alberta Party leader with any public profile safely out of partisan party politics perhaps until he is actually ready to retire, although not that he did much for them during his brief time there, much like his previous time with AHS.

  2. Apparently, suicide is all that thinking Albertans have left to contemplate.

    The petro statists got to Notley with her vituperative Act against BC, and which Kenney’s pea brain proclaimed only to be shot down by the Courts. Unconstitutional? Hey, Kenney beat Boris to that feat, although the British Supreme Court seem about ten times faster on their feet in refuting nonsense. Boris, like harper or Kenney won’t let unconstitutionality stop their rampage. They just keep on trying without shame until something sticks.

    There appear to be no major outlets for modern thinking to be dispensed in Alberta, beyond this blog and Dave Cournoyer’s. The Postmedia press is in on the industry/UCP BS, and country music dominates the radio scene. One-sided propaganda. Thus Albertans live in splendiferous ignorance of what the more progressive peoples of the world are concerned about. Greta Thunberg? Who dat?

    That old goat with the designer spectacle frames should be tethered to a post and allowed to mow the lawn, organic style. Seems about his speed.

    Honestly, folks, here in NS, the effects of hurricane Dorian are obvious on our shoreline. Like the score of storms these past few years, each one brings fresh concerns. Things are changing fast. Nobody here challenges climate change. Or global warming, as we get weird tropical fish species and birds, while lobsters crawl north from Trump’s waters eager to find cool conditions. The fishermen are concerned, and huge rock walls built on the shoreline to keep out the sea are tossed aside like gravel. Too bad our local ocean is also warming like there’s no tomorrow. The lobsters are heading for the Labrador current, one presumes. It’s all too obvious. But in your high prairie aerie, living in splendid isolation barring a few months of wildfire smoke each summer, I guess everything’s wonderful. Pump that dilbit worldwide and hasten the end, why don’t you? Almost 6 million bpd, far beyond what Canada could consume by itself. Fourth in world production, we are. Let us cheer rank ignorance!

    1. Actually Bill: Albertans have the ability to suck and blow at the same time. Consider this: the City of Edmonton has declared a “climate emergency” yet Kenney is donating one hundred million to expand an Edmonton freeway to six lanes to accommodate 80,000 cars per day. Notley did the same thing for Calgary and Red Deer at greater cost.
      How many electric street cars could that hundred million put in place? Who cares? We are not even about value adding. Notley put in dilbit production quotas which subsidized the raw production of bitumen and hurts the tar plants like SunCor/Syncrude, which have their own refineries. Kenney just made those quotas lower. So few in Alberta support the so-called market when it helps value adding and hurts extraction. We are “the beating heart of free enterprise” except when we’re not. Its all “rip and ship baby” with some meaningless environmental rhetoric as a garnish. So don’t be surprised “young earth” and other anti-science types are running the joint. It is not ignorance, it is greed.

  3. I thought Katz was pretty much out of the healthcare business, perhaps not seeing as he now has his boy on the board. Do board members have to complete a financial disclosure? Likely not but it would be an interesting read for sure.

  4. I really hate to break this news to your audience and to my long suffering relatives in the industrial meat business, but? Andrew Sheer wants Jason Kenney to be Prime Minister and he is willing to do just enough to ensure that your KMX pipeline doesn’t get built in order to ensure that Jason can easily usurp his paper throne and guide us all over the cliff. How? By losing to the sane end of politics. But not by too much! That’s the key! The incremental (heavy on the mental) erosion of sanity!

  5. It’s interesting that trustee Sherry Adams who lives in the same province where Royal Tyrell Museum is located and houses dinosaur fossils dating from millions of years ago thinks that the science of climate change is not settled even though the IPCC has been issuing much the same warnings of dire consequences for humans and the earth’s environment since 1990.

    Does Adams think that science isn’t settled on the age of the dinosaurs too. Things are definitely changing when the students have to do the educating about climate change. I wonder if the dinosaurs running the province can catch on anyway.

    Perhaps the students will issue a report card advising that the grade will have to be repeated.

    1. One look at Sherry Adams’ picture provides incontrovertible evidence that she has time-travelled here directly from 1962. When you can do that, we’ll listen to you and your “science” talk.

  6. My guess is that Sherry Adams was unsuccessful it securing the UCP nomination because she left too much wiggle room by saying the science was “not settled”. We all know that the UCP people prefer flat out deniers.

  7. I wonder how long it will take Mandel and Kenney to build the Alberta Health super lab (possibly in Calgary) on the Alberta taxpayers dime and privatize it to the Katz group much like Mandel did with Rogers Place in Edmonton.

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