Welcome to the second, less frequently-posted decade of RevMod.

Contact me at revmod AT gmail.

Sunday, August 02, 2015


Yes, I'll be running the Gaffeometer again.  I hadn't really given it any thought, because I obviously don't spend a bunch of time blogging any more.  Twitter's been my latest outlet.  Frankly, I'm a little resentful that the Prime Minister's constant need to game the system means I have to start this process in August.

That's hardly the worst sin among Harper's constant win-at-all-costs defiance of all decent Parliamentary and democratic traditions, just the one that directly affects me.

I'm not going to pay attention to the Greens or the Bloc.  Unlike some debate organizers, I'm happy to draw the line at party status in the House.  If I had to pay attention to Elizabeth May to run this thing, the price would be too high.

The chart won't appear on this page up to date until the Edmonton Fringe Festival is over.  I'm sure I can get caught up - how bad can it be, given how tightly the central parties are trying to manage their message?  "Pretty bad" is the answer, in case you haven't paid attention in the past.

This also buys me a couple of weeks to find goofy pictures of the leaders.  Feel encouraged to forward your favourites.

Friday, March 06, 2015

The Right Moment

(Much of this is cross-posted from my comments on daveberta.ca)

I can't remember a time the Tories seemed so vulnerable.  Wild Rose taught an entire generation of Albertans it's okay to vote against the PC party, and Danielle Smith managed to make those voters mad at herself AND Jim Prentice.  There's only one opposition party that doesn't seem to be in disarray, so if Notley catches on during a campaign she might be able to overcome the branding issues the NDP have traditionally had in this province, organizing the anti-government vote to NDP candidates.  

The Tories won the last election by triangulating progressives' fears of Wild Rose.  Those progressive voters exist.  Don Iveson and Naheed Nenshi aren't mayors by accident.  The face of this province has changed.  

Jim Prentice seemed pretty smooth during the leadership, but between Bill 10 and Look in the Mirror,  he's increasingly appearing out of touch.  If you were to look for a big-oil plutocrat straight from central casting, you could do far worse than finding Jim Prentice.  Give electors one #PrenticeBlamesAlbertans moment during the writ period, and it's going to get very interesting very quickly.  

I can't wait!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tory Headscratcher

So, Alberta's Conservatives avoid voting for one of two divisive candiadates by choosing the third-place finisher in round one, Ed Stelmach. The media and his political opponents think he's a good-natured bozo, but he leads the party to an electoral victory that outstrips every pre-election pundit prediction. Naturally, the Tories get out the knives, and Stelmach never gets to contest another election. 

Enter Alison Redford. Like Stelmach, she wasn't the caucus' choice for leader. She appeared to be leading the Tories to their first electoral loss since 1971, but turned it around so that come election day, Alberta's Conservatives are celebrating yet another unexpectedly large margin of victory. 

Let me be clear - I don't think travel expenses did the Premier in. I think she was done in by a caucus that never wanted her as leader, and was happy enough to latch onto an excuse when it was presented. It didn't help that she ran from much further left than she governed... the very people who gave her the surprise win in 2012 weren't there for her any more to leverage popular support against caucus disapproval. 

Maybe it's a contributing factor to the long Tory reign that they do in leaders before those leaders can lose an election. Still, Stelmach and Redford both deserved better treatment from the party for whom they produced such successful results. Leadership aspirants will do well to remember that lesson.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Arena, again

This deal's getting worse all the time! Seriously, who do I need to vote against to get the arena funding plan torn up in October?

 (I have to admit, another playoff-free spring is making it easier for me to tell Katz to go to Seattle hell.)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

City issues.  Okay, really just the arena.

I wrote to my city councillor this week.  I'm happy to share.

Mr. Sohi:

I love the Oilers. I spend money to make sure I'm in the arena a few times a year to see them in person. I pay again to own and wear their jersey. My opinion is the opinion of someone who has no desire to see the team leave.

I've been reluctant to write because Daryl Katz's Seattle stunt enraged me. When the Katz Group negotiates with the city about building an arena, they're happy to define the responsibility for the team as going beyond the financial ownership. The Oilers are more than a business, they argue, it's integrated with the community - the team is a part of who we are as Edmontonians. This has been the argument of many team owners, across sports and leagues, all over the continent. The argument is offered again and again because it has truth to it. It's why a threat, however empty, to move the team has such power.

I've been reluctant to write, because I wanted my anger to fade. I wanted to calmly and rationally examine Mr. Katz's insistence that he only wants what's best for the team and the city. But time is running out before the meeting next week that the Mayor has asked Mr. Katz to attend, and it's telling that despite his apology letter that seemed to acknowledge that he hadn't done enough to communicate with us his side of things, he hasn't left the impression he or anyone from the Katz Group will be attending that meeting to answer questions.

As a private citizen, it makes no difference that I continue to be angry about this. With the lockout, I can't even refuse to attend games to express my displeasure with Daryl Katz. I know that as an elected official, you can't afford to be angry the way I am. You need to make decisions in a calm, rational, professional manner. I would like to offer a suggestion, however.

I was never very happy with the arena deal put together last October - I think Katz got the better of council. Still, like lots of Edmontonians, I think I was willing to say my piece at the time and then go on. In fact, I wasn't angry enough about it to bother writing to you. But things are different now. Katz's Seattle trip was a ham-handed effort to play hardball with Council. Council needs to be willing to play hardball right back.

Make clear that the October 2011 agreement is not a minimum that the Katz Group can hold you to - it's not an initial offer. It was an agreement. If Daryl Katz isn't happy with the terms, council will be happy to withdraw it and start again. In fact, make sure the agreement has a publicly-known expiry date. I know Council worked very hard to come to that agreement. But you have to be as willing to back out as Mr. Katz is, if you're going to negotiate on even ground.

Make clear that Council doesn't think the NHL will allow Mr. Katz to take the team elsewhere. Gary Bettman has indicated that he thinks it was a mistake to allow Winnipeg and Quebec City's teams to move. If the NHL is now willing to double down in Phoenix, where only the Canadian ex-pats care about hockey, they aren't going to quietly let the Oilers leave town. But be equally clear that we aren't going to be blackmailed, even if the NHL backs Katz's play. The Oilers sell some of the most expensive tickets in the league, they have a terrible winning record, and they fill the rink every night. There must be other owners around the league who wouldn't mind moving into this market at all. How happy can Glendale taxpayers be that they continue to subsidize a team that isn't even playing? Be clear that while Edmonton needs the Oilers, the Oilers need Edmonton more. There are very few hockey markets as attractive as ours, and I think it's fair to say there are none that aren't already served by a team.

Finally, offer an alternative. If the city is going to foot essentially the entire bill for a new arena, perhaps we should operate it and enjoy the financial benefits for the good of the entire city, not just one man. I'm sure we could do okay with the Oilers as a primary tenant forty-five nights a year. If the Katz group won't pay for the development, they can't expect to get a piece of every other event that passes through town. Alternatively, sell him Rexall Place, and let him do what he likes with that space. Downtown will continue to revitalize just fine without an arena, thanks.

If none of these deals, including the one he got from Council last year, sound attractive enough to Katz, then to hell with him. Let him try to negotiate with increasingly bankrupt American municipalities instead, if he find the grass so much greener. Best of luck to him.

I don't know the specifics of the financial situation well enough to know which of these suggestions are practical, though in fairness, since Katz refuses to open the team's books, neither do you. What I'm really suggesting is the basic advice - don't be afraid to play hardball with the Katz Group. Don't assume that because he owns a popular team, citizens are on his side in this negotiation. I'm not, and I haven't spoken to anyone who is. We know which side is working on our behalf. In fact, right now, while the lockout has fans even angrier than usual at NHL ownership, this may be your moment to get the best deal for taxpayers. Take a hard line, and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised how many citizens, including hockey fans like me, will be willing to cheer you on.

He responded, quickly and with pretty much the text of the statement you can find on his website.  The real test will come when Council meets this week.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Given my expectation of a WRP majority, this is certainly a better result. In fact, if Redford governs from as far left as she campaigned (not, you know, super far left, but better than the last many years), it might be a good result. But the "how" mystifies me a little bit. Stelmach did the same thing, polling not nearly as well as he finished on election night. Is there some sort of "vote Tory" programming in Albertans that only kicks in when faced with a ballot in their hands?

Monday, April 23, 2012


 I'm sure, if the Legislature seems to be shaking out to be in minority territory with an advantage to Wild Rose this evening, there will be some talk about which of the elected PCs can be talked into walking the floor to get WRP to a majority and shut the smaller parties out of the process. If this does in fact come to pass,let me be the first to issue a warning: the PCs that win tonight will owe those victories to not being Wild Rose. If they switch allegiances, they should remember that the WRP has promised a recall process. I'm just saying.