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"Redford questions pipeline hearings credibility," the headline read.

There he goes, again, thought I. Robert Redford in high dudgeon over the Northern Gateway pipeline, lecturing Canadians as yet another of those – in the measured words of Joe Oliver – "jet-setting celebrities with some of the largest personal carbon footprints in the world" this side of Peter MacKay. Okay, he didn't mention the high-flying, newly wedded Defence Minister.

And "Redford" wasn't the aging Sundance Kid, at all. It was, of course, Alison Redford, still so freshly on the national stage as Premier of Alberta that an editor at one newspaper, after seeing an earlier "Redford" headline, wondered why Robert Redford was meeting Stephen Harper in Ottawa.

Which brings us to this week's gathering of the premiers in surprisingly wintry Victoria. Ms. Redford, alone among them, embraced Ottawa's unilateral decision to base future federal health-care transfers strictly on per-capita. No adjustments.

In other words, provincial coffers will get just as much Ottawa cash for a healthy young buck of 25 as for someone in their so-called "golden years" (yeah, right), despite the fact that geezers cost the health-care system so much more.

Guess which province has, by far, the lowest percentage of Canadians over 65. Resource-rich Alberta, of course.

And which province also stands to reap an annual windfall of $900-million or so from the funding switch, starting in 2014? Yep, Alberta again, the only province wealthy enough to have no need of a sales tax.

Talk about piling on. But Ms. Redford sees nothing wrong with any of this.

"I believe that every Canadian is entitled to the same amount of money through the Canadian health transfer as every other Canadian," she declared, underscoring Alberta's great political wisdom to entice the huge oil industry within its boundaries, when it might otherwise have gone, say, to Quebec or Ontario.

Whatever, it's not much of a contribution to federalism and the concept of equal quality of health care across the country.

One is reminded of the words of a man who has never been mistaken for Robert Redford, former B.C. premier Mike Harcourt.

Quoth Mr. Harcourt long ago: "Albertans are essentially vampires living off dead dinosaurs. They just put their fangs into the ground and out comes the black gold [oil]"

He was kidding. I think.


It's a tough job on occasion, but somebody has to do it. So off I went, through weather cold enough to freeze the bells off a Morris dancer, to an Adrian Dix news conference.

I barely recognized the guy. For one thing, he was in colour. His mouth was not off kilter, and, listen as I might, I could not hear anyone warning me in a deep, concerned voice that this was a real bad, tax-and-spend dude.

That's the image the B.C. Liberals and their Tricky Dick, er Risky Dix ads have been imprinting into my susceptible hockey brain during recent telecasts of the local Canuckleheads.

Mr. Dix told the assembled throng (me and the Chinese-language media) that his first glimpse of the Liberals' attack ad came at a local pub where he'd gone to watch an NFL playoff tilt. A couple of "tired and emotional" fans noticed him and clapped Mr. Dix on the back for being on TV during such a momentous occasion.

"It's also increased my facial recognition on SkyTrain," said the bemused NDP Leader.

Now, if he could just keep his pant legs rolled down and avoid that slice of exposed flesh a sharp-eyed reporter noticed, whilst checking if Mr. Dix's shoelaces were tied.

What was it that St. Louis poet T.S. Eliot overheard some guy named Prufrock mutter? "I grow old … I grow old … I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled."

Coming soon, perhaps, to a Liberal ad near you.


Okay, pain aficionados. Which is worse?

Listening to fashion maven Stephen Harper speak about the importance of Chinese ties. Sitting in a classroom as 48 pairs of fingernails run down the blackboard. Or trying to find a solution to the latest intractable contract squabble involving the province's teachers. It's a close call.

Against all reason, the teachers seem to believe the government will be converted to generosity by the kind of midnight visitations that changed Ebenezer Scrooge.

Remember the no-longer-miserly Scrooge telling his deserving clerk Bob Cratchit that he had no alternative "but to raise [his]salary"?

Fat chance. Move on, teachers.


To finish on an even sillier note than usual, discover who's really in charge at the PMO by accessing Tweet, Tweet!