St. Albert Coun. Natalie Joly asked council to look at banning conversion therapy within its municipal boundaries.Shaughn Butts / Postmedia


A little bit of this, a little bit of that …


Why is St. Albert City Council passing rhetorical, unenforceable bylaws on social issues way outside of its jurisdiction, i.e. a ban on conversion therapy?

It’s a fine sentiment . Nobody should be forcibly brainwashed into changing their sexual orientation. But it’s the wrong level of government.

In Alberta, municipalities are responsible for maintaining and building civic infrastructure, transit, public safety and providing recreation/leisure facilities for their citizens.

The province and the federal government are responsible for social issues. The creation and enforcement of laws dealing with discrimination, human rights (including sexual/gender preference and choice) and ethical decisions – such as legal suicide, or conversion therapy – are 100% in the provincial/federal domain.

The province and Ottawa have the financial resources, the expertise, and the political mandate to pursue such issues. Municipalities – dependent on property taxes and provincial/federal financial whim – do not.

Social activists and progressive social engineers, please seek election as MLAs or MPs, not municipal councillors.


Last week’s Hicks on Biz column, featuring the businesses opportunities resulting from the University of Alberta’s expertise in artificial intelligence (AI), has led to some interesting anecdotal conversations.

Google’s DeepMind laboratory/office in the downtown, I’m told, features a recreational climbing wall … that blasts through several floors within its office tower! Why? Because it’s Google.

Rumours abound that Google has a second, even more futuristic, top-secret AI lab here in Edmonton, to work with the U of A  AI expert Rich Sutton and his colleagues on AI applications at least 20 years away.

Why would a Korean company set up MindLab, an AI lab in Edmonton?

“The Koreans are world-leading ship-builders,” says a city high-tech leader by way of example. “Imagine an automated AI-endowed sensor following a welder as he/she lays down a bead. The sensor could detect the tiniest of flaws that can immediately be rectified … instead of a human inspector coming hours later, and ordering the entire weld be re-done.”


Quite the gathering of movers and shakers Tuesday evening at the Dutch Canadian Centre to welcome Jerry Bouma as the incoming honourary counsel for The Netherlands, and to thank financial advisor Angus Watt for his 10 years in the role. Among those in attendance:  Netherlands ambassador to Canada Henk van der Zwan, Edmonton City Manager Linda Cochrane, Bob Westbury, Dave Majeski, Susan Green, Hubert Lau and Kristina Williams.

While the 27 Edmonton-based honourary counsels are all volunteers, they are vital in assisting both Ottawa-based embassies and the provincial government on matters involving the country they represent. Plus they get invites to all the right parties.


The defeated New Democrat government saw business as the enemy, the state as the repository of all that is good and virtuous.

Alberta’s new United Conservative Party government sees business as its great ally in re-building prosperity, preferring a minimal role for the state.

So no wonder the first sitting of the Provincial Legislature since the spring election was devoted to bills reversing the NDs’ state-as-savior mindset.

The carbon tax was repealed, the minimum wage amended, corporate tax hikes done away with, excessive regulations curtailed, public sector wage negotiations deferred until after an appointed panel’s report on provincial finances.

All in all, the session declared Alberta to once again be open for business, that the socialist hordes (other than our Edmonton neighbours) have been defeated, that made-in-Alberta technology makes our natural gas and oil a solution, not a cause, of global warming.

Strategically, I’m surprised the UCP didn’t just leave the school LGBTQ/gay-straight alliance legislation alone. The entire issue has been overblown, is now a fait accompli and is less important than the re-balancing of progressive-versus-classical education systems.

Biggest disappointment?  That Premier Jason Kenney has not announced a five to 10 per cent rollback in MLA salaries and benefits, to lead fiscal restraint by example. I hope he is simply holding off such a declaration pending the release of the appointed panel’s fiscal report.


Speaking of infrastructure maintenance, why does the Low Level Bridge, from downtown to Connors and Scona roads, remain such an eyesore?  It looks like a terrible skin problem, a bombed-out basement, a rusted-out relic from the WALL-E movie.  And it looks even worse compared to the beautiful  all-new, all arches and curves, smooth-flowing Walterdale Bridge.