Alberta Diary

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David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. His 1995 book, A Poke in the Public Eye, explores the relationships among Canadian journalists, public relations people and politicians. He left journalism after the strike at the Calgary Herald in 1999 and 2000 to work for the trade union movement. Alberta Diary focuses on Alberta politics and social issues.

Redford to docs: There's no raise, and you're not getting it!

| February 7, 2013
Alison Redford

Every day, it just gets weirder and weirder.

The day before yesterday, we're told, Alberta Premier Alison Redford waded into her health minister's already strangely muddled negotiations with the province's physicians to state that the only way the docs will get a raise is if the province goes back to charging health care premiums.

What's more, she said in an impromptu news conference in Calgary, there's no way that's ever going to happen.

And what's even more, she went on, there's also no way they're going to get a raise either. Period.

So that would seem pretty definitive, huh? There's no raise, and you're not getting it!

According to the Edmonton Journal, the president of the Alberta Medical Association said he was flabbergasted by the premier's commentary and accused her of trying to derail the negotiations with the docs.

To Michael Giuffre's observations we can only say that we’re all flabbergasted at the kind of stuff being emitted lately by Alberta's famously brainy premier. As for derailing the negotiations, if what she said Tuesday is true, the obvious question is, What negotiations?

Other than the ones with Fred Horne, the health minister, that is, and heaven only knows what's going on with those. Alert readers will recall that Horne has complained that Alberta’s doctors are paid $20 to $29 million more than all those other Canadian doctors, and seeing as the price of oil has unexpectedly gone and acted volatile again leaving Alberta facing the prospect of a deficit, there's no way we can afford to pay them what he told them they had to take back in November.

So let's all negotiate, he told them right after that, which brings us back around to Redford's remarks on Tuesday.

Which leaves us all exactly where? Well, don't ask me!

Like Giuffre, I'm flabbergasted. (Unlike Giuffre, I'm not going to waste time trying to use logic to pick apart Horne's and Redford's reasoning by adding up their sums and pointing out they're talking about needing to raise a billion dollars to pay for a $25-million cost increase. The AMA president should know by now that telling voters "the numbers don’t make sense" just gives them a headache.)

Redford's PC predecessor as premier, Ed Stelmach, got rid of Alberta's health care premiums back in 2008, costing the government about $1 billion in revenue.

Actually, I have a confession to make: I've been flabbergasted at this government ever since Redford took over. Back in March and April 2012, as the April 23 provincial general election screamed down upon us like a freight train hauling carloads to soon-to-be-sworn-in Wildrose MLAs, Redford seemed to switch course every day, and drop the ball every time she did it.

Like everyone else, I started to think that as a result a Wildrose government was pretty likely.

Then she and her Progressive Conservatives won a very nice 61-seat majority, thank you very much.

It's all very well to blame that on Pastor Allan Hunsperger, the Lake of Fire Guy, but really people, there had to be more to it than that. Anyway, somebody had to tell on him and make sure the media heard about it.

Now it's starting to sound like déjà vu all over again -- with outrageous revelations of illegal donations to the PCs, strange flip-flops almost every day in the negotiations with the docs, untested cabinet ministers being made to walk the plank, and bad ideas like legislating teachers into involuntary servitude for a couple of years surfacing regularly, not to mention a stream of broken election promises.

And then the demonstrably smartest premier in Canada starts saying stuff like her confusing comments about the doctors' negotiations. There's got to be a Youtube video in this: maybe … S**ff Premiers Say…

It’s getting so -- well, flabbergasting -- that one can only assume that if an election were held tomorrow … we'd all march out and vote in another Progressive Conservative majority!

Where do we go from here? Well, invitees gather in Calgary on the weekend for the Premier's one-day summit to solve all of Alberta's economic problems.

And talk about being flabbergasted, I’m still waiting for my invitation from Finance Minister Doug Horner, my MLA. What's with that?

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.

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