Progressive Conservatives win a landslide in Alberta

Despite all the talk of change, election day in Alberta turned out to be more of the same. Ed Stelmach and the Progressive Conservatives have won a landslide victory. I was once again greeted with the “oh my god you’re under 40” look by the old people at the polling station. The one change this time around is that it appears voter turnout was up for the first time in many years (but not sure yet).

Apparently there were 2,252,104 Albertans eligible to vote this year. I’m sure not all of them were attempting to visit the Elections Alberta website at the same time, but it was down this morning nonetheless. Here’s what it looked like at 10:30 this morning:

And an hour later, they decided to change it up, just for kicks:

The websites for the Alberta Liberals and Alberta Alliance were also down today.

Ah well, it was wishful thinking that we’d have a party other than the PC’s in charge. And let’s be honest, the election was pretty damn boring. Like Sharon, I have to laugh every time someone says it was “a long, hard-fought election”.

I’m much more excited for tomorrow’s primaries in Ohio and Texas. The big controversy of the day, of course, is Barack Obama’s denial of back-channel assurances to Canada regarding his position on NAFTA. Not sure if it’ll be enough to give Hillary any momentum though.

UPDATE: Turns out this was the worst voter turnout in Alberta history.

Ed Stelmach not afraid to sue

Post Image The big political news today of course, is the New Hampshire primary (as I write this, CNN has projected McCain for the Republicans and shows Clinton and Obama in a tight race). But there’s a different political story I want to share with you, one that hits a little closer to home.

From the CBC:

[Alberta] Premier Ed Stelmach is ready to take legal action against a university student who bought the rights to the domain name edstelmach.ca.

On Dec. 3, [Dave] Cournoyer received a letter from Stelmach’s lawyers, accusing him of stealing the premier’s persona. It demands that the blogger hand over the domain and the advertising revenue generated from it to Stelmach or face litigation.

Legal squabbles over domain names happen all the time. Usually they are handled a little better however, especially when a politician is involved. I didn’t have a very high opinion of Stelmach before this little debacle, so how do you think I feel about him now? His first reaction is to sue?

I can’t say it any better than Cournoyer himself:

Though I am still surprised that the +150 staffed Public Affairs Bureau failed to complete the simple task of registering a $14.00 domain name, I am even more surprised that Premier Ed Stelmach’s first reaction in this situation was to threaten to sue an 24-year old blogger and debt ridden University of Alberta student.

Might as well play the student card if you can. Daveberta (as Cournoyer is known) says he is seeking advice from legal counsel.

Read: CBC News

Finally a reason to like Stelmach, perhaps

Post ImageI’m not a huge fan of Alberta’s current premier, Ed Stelmach. Just like Chris, I miss Ralph Klein. There was no guessing with Klein, and certainly no extended periods of silence. You knew exactly what to expect, and he never disappointed. With Stelmach on the other hand, there’s just dead air.

In the past I’ve written that raising money for tech in Alberta sucks. I would have to say that it still sucks. But perhaps Stelmach will make it suck less. That’s what the Journal would have you believe anyway:

After years of empty rhetoric and inaction under Klein, a sea change may be underway. Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach and Advanced Education and Technology Minister Doug Horner seem intent on finally addressing some of the issues that have hindered development of the province’s tech sector.

The two established a task force back in March to examine tech commercialization in our province, and the report finally came on Friday. And before I say anything else, kudos to Horner and his department for making the report available online (pdf).

Among the findings:

  • Creation of a government-backed, $100 million Alberta Enterprise Fund with $200 million in projected matching investments from the private sector
  • Creation of a 25% investor tax credit
  • Creation of an Alberta-specific SR&ED tax credit to match the federal program

Other things include additional facilities and tech centres, and improved access to intellectual property. The Journal article quickly points out that “the recommendations outlined above are hardly revolutionary.” You can say that again! We need to implement each one of those things just to get on par with provinces like Ontario and B.C.

The thing to keep in mind is that a report is nothing more than words on paper. Stelmach and his government still need to act on the report’s findings before anything will change. Still, this is a lot further than Alberta has ever gotten in the past. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to write that raising money for tech in Alberta rocks.

Read: Edmonton Journal