Sunday, May 01, 2005

Alberta's next CEO

Will he? Won't he? When will he?
Who Cares! Bring on our new CEO

King Ralph is playing coy about when he will actually abdicate, err resign. Pundits say after the Queen comes and Alberta celebrates its one hundred years of Solitude, he will step down. Others say maybe in 2006.

Ralph says 'Nah', maybe 2008. Oh he is such a kidder our Fuerher. He doesn't want to be overshadowed in our Centennial Year by a leadership race. Even though one is already happening in the Tory backrooms.

Which is probably the reason that the Tories are so busy that they have no time to organize a proper birthday bash, with cake and fireworks and twelve months of events.

Why bother with a leadership race? Everyone knows that the former Finance Minister who slayed the Deficit Dragon, is the chosen one of the Calgary Elite who run the Progessive Conservative Association Inc. And their chosen son is none other than the ultimate former Tory turned corporate shill; Jim Dinning.

Dinning the ideal icon of Corporate Calgary is the fair haired lad being groomed to become the next CEO of the Party of Calgary and thus the CEO of Alberta.

Dinning is the ultimate corporate lobbyist, and was instrumental in pushing for electrical deregulation when he sat on the Transalta Board until this January. While Ralph takes the heat for being TransAlta's bum boy, Dinning raked in the bucks.

And he has benefited from Alberta's privatization of its liqour control boards. The privatized liquour monopolies made their profits off the governments fire sale prices of the businesses and properties and union busting with the subsequent drastic cuts to workers wages and benefits) They made so much money in fact they have set up an investment trust fund to avoid paying taxes on their ill gotten gains at taxpayers expense.

In fact every move of the Alberta government made to end its involvement in "being in the business of business", has benefited Jim Dinning and the Calgary PC Corprate Elite.

Dinning has benefited from the Klein Revolution in a big way, and with the backing of the Kleinistas he is being groomed for annointment as Calgary's next big CEO to run Alberta.

Sure there are other would be contenders for the Throne but they are just red herrings and smoke screens to put a democratic veneer on the Dinning Coronation.

The Vatican was more democratic in its leadership race last week in comparison to the Party of Calgary.

And after all since it is the Party of Calgary it will be the Calgary Gang that decides who will be crowned and they are backing Dinning. The rest of the Province can just butt out, thank you very much.

Hail to the Chief. Forget the leadership race, lets get on with the annointment.

Corporate connections
Alberta's former treasurer has built a power base in the private sector but ties to the business elite may not be a plus in returning to politics
Gary Lamphier
The Edmonton Journal
Saturday, April 30, 2005

Dinning quietly left his post at TransAlta in January to gear up for the coming Tory leadership race, and to assemble a campaign team that includes longtime Klein advisers Rod Love and Hal Danchilla. But the TransAlta connection hasn't been severed. Dinning still provides consulting services, says Snyder.

"Jim can think big, he's got some good vision. But more importantly, he's a very good consensus builder.

"And when you try to bring coalitions together, those are clearly superb skills. That's the one area where he has continued to do some consulting work for us," he adds.

Dinning's corporate circles extend far beyond TransAlta, however.

The smooth-talking Queen's University grad, who counts former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed (described as a longtime family friend) and ex-provincial treasurer Lou Hyndman as his political mentors, sits on nearly a dozen company boards.

The list includes major Toronto Stock Exchange-listed firms such as Shaw Communications, Finning International, Parkland Income Fund, Russel Metals, and Liquor Stores Income Fund.

"What he brings to the boardroom table is his government relations experience, and also a lot of overall corporate experience," says Irv Kipnes, CEO of Edmonton-based Liquor Stores Income Fund, Alberta's largest liquor retailer.

"A lot of our time in the few months we've been a public company has been taken up with governance issues. But Jim has been very good at focusing on the business," he says.

Dinning also serves on the boards of several smaller public firms, including Oncolytics Biotech, JED Oil -- a Calgary junior that went public in the U.S. last year -- Time Industrial, and Western Financial Group.

At Western Financial, Dinning's perks include a Calgary office to go along with his chairman's title.

"Jim joined our board about three years ago, and he was active right off the bat. He's good with financials, good on the soft stuff, good on strategy and he's very quick," says CEO Scott Tannas, son of former Tory MLA Don Tannas, who spent 15 years in the legislature.

"Usually most directors have a hole where they're not good on the soft stuff, or they're not good on the strategy, or they're not good on numbers. Jim doesn't have that. His battery is really strong. He doesn't have any weaknesses in business -- he gets it all," says Tannas.

Dinning is also a director of two privately owned companies, Vancouver-based Great Canadian Railtour Co., and Elluminate Inc., a Calgary e-learning startup.

In his board roles with larger public companies, Dinning typically earns five-figure annual retainer fees, while rubbing elbows with some of the nation's most powerful corporate execs, business tycoons and politicos.

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