Monday, May 21, 2007

The Front Page!

Allie Wojtaszek, Special to the Journal

I was surprised to see a local news story I had recently participated on the front page of the Edmonton Journal this morning. A pleasant surprise, though, and my picture looks great. Don't forget to look at my other Listen pictures in the Journal's Photo Gallery. I am becoming a real photographer!

See also my Listen Bird Group on Flickr. I uploaded a bunch of new Listen pics.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

In Recognition of Oustanding Service

Congratulations Duncan!

Premier Stelmach attended Edmonton Meadowlarks AGM tonight as our guest speaker. The Premier presented four Leaders' Awards to members of our constituency - Duncan was one of them, all very well deserved. It's great to see such a strong and vibrant constituency association as we head into nominations and the next election!

Rent controls are just not the answer

My friend Daveberta had an interesting post yesterday where he tries to imply that somehow the PC Party actually controls the Premier and that by voting down policy at our AGM to consider rent controls we are forcing Premier Stelmach's hand on the issue. That's an interesting argument but it's (thankfully) not accurate.

The way the policy discussion was structured at this AGM illustrates how important an issue this is to our Party membership. 83 Constituencies submitted Policy Resolutions and then the membership voted on the five most important that would be discussed at the AGM. The mere fact that this was one of the five policies that made it proves how important an issue this is to us.

The fact remains though, that when everything is considered, Rent Control is not a solution to Alberta's Housing Crisis.

As a renter I struggle with this issue, but I do try to see it from the view of the Albertan property owner as well. If you have a property that you rent out, I assume that you do so not as a service to Albertans but to make a profit, to secure your families lively hood, or to create a safe future for your retirement. With rising costs, utilities, property taxes, higher wages for maintenance workers, higher contract costs for upkeep and the legal fees associated with renting - what would motivate someone to continue to rent (especially with property prices at an all time high) if they could not meet all these new needs, rising bills AND still support their families and the goals they set out to achieve when deciding to invest in rental properties?

Further, why on earth would any developer or potential owner even build new rental units if rent controls were in place? Why not just build condos or houses and sell them - at least you will get market value for them.

Nothing is cheap in our province, and I suspect (knowing a few) that most landlords are good people who have families to support and bills to pay, just like us. We do need to find a solution - one that works for all Albertan's - and in the mean time find a way to support the lowest income members of our province who are having the hardest time dealing with these rising costs. But rent control is not the answer.

More Dis-May

Paul Well's has a great post about the continuing saga of Elizabeth May trying to staunchly defend her ill-thought comments comparing the Prime Minister to Neville Chamberlain. He first jokes (great Simpson's reference here) "She has a point. If people accused Elizabeth May of talking about Nazis every time she talks about Nazis, where would we be?" But then continues, more seriously, to the heart of the matter, saying "What is thuddingly obvious to any serious observer is that May cannot have meant anything by the Harper-Chamberlain comparison except what she is accused of having meant. If I say somebody's action is "a grievance worse than Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of the Nazis," ... I mean that in the face of a greater moral danger than the one Hitler represented, he is showing instincts of appeasement. What is also clear is that May meant every word of it." Go to Inkless Wells and read his entire post on the subject.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Power to the People...

Thanks to Shaw I'm blogging live from the PC AGM and Convention here in Edmonton. I wanted to mention a few thoughts that arose from the heated discussion at our AGM earlier this evening regarding raising our membership fees, which our Provincial Party Executive had attempted to do already (and without consultation) at an executive meeting.

The strength in our Party lies within it's core - at the grassroots level - with it's constituencies and their members. These members have long resisted raising membership dues, especially as a method of fundraising, and with good reason: a $5.00 fee makes membership in our party available to anyone and everyone who wants it. I think it is of utmost importance that everyone who wants to participate in the democratic process be able to do so, and the price of a membership to a political party should never be a barrier to this.

In attempting to raise our fees in a closed meeting (and inform us of it later), our executive forgot about the most important people in our party - us. Today, the grassroots members of the PC Party of Alberta sent a clear message in voting down the proposed fee elevation... we know that power lies within our voice, our vote and we will not tolerate anyone trying to take this away from us. Power to the People.