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What on Earth is Going on? is a podcast for the curious, where small talk is banned and tangents are prized. Strap yourself in for genuine dialogues with people who think deeply and are ready to tackle the big questions, such as broadcaster Terry O'Reilly, economist Miles Corak and journalist Jessica Vomiero.

Join Ben Charland to peel back the headlines and ask, what are the forces, people and ideas that shape the human story today? Have things always been this nuts, or are they getting crazier by the day? From the Mafia to the Beavertonwomen in politics to women in leadershiphistory to artificial intelligence, and entrepreneurship in the digital age to the art of wheelchair fencing, just what on Earth is going on?

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May 17, 2019

In April 2019, Jason Kenney returned the Conservatives to power in Alberta. Is this a return to normal in Alberta politics, where one party usually rules? What's happening underneath the platforms and rhetoric? And what do these events tell us about politics, populism and power elsewhere?

Ben is in Calgary to address these questions with renowned pollster and political analyst Janet Brown, lawyer and former politico Denise Brunsdon, and University of Calgary political scientist Anthony Sayers.

About the Guests

Janet Brown

Based in Calgary, Janet Brown is one of Alberta’s most-recognized pollsters and political analysts. With over 25 years experience in polling and marketing research, Janet has developed a knack for asking the right people the right questions. Janet sees beyond the headlines and talk radio chatter to assess and interpret what’s happening beneath the surface in Alberta politics.

In partnership with journalist Paul McLoughlin, Janet publishes the Wild Ride Update – a quarterly report on Alberta’s rapidly evolving political scene. She is co-author of "Marginally Better: Polling in the 2015 Alberta Election", a chapter in Orange Chinook: Politics in the New Alberta, an edited volume released by the University of Calgary Press in 2019. Janet is a regular commentator on the CBC Calgary News at Six, Alberta Primetime on CTV2 in Alberta, and The Weekend Morning News on Global News Calgary.

Learn more about Janet or follow her on Twitter (@planetjanetyyc).

Denise Brunsdon

Denise is a confident and creative thinker who works tirelessly for her clients and community. She is a general commercial litigation lawyer at Bennett Jones in Calgary, Alberta, with particular experience in court and arbitration disputes in digital, intellectual property, construction, health, and real estate matters.

Besides appearing before arbitration tribunals, Denise has appeared before the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, the Alberta Court of Appeal, and the Federal Court of Canada.

Denise is a co-founder and member of Lawyers for Education, Access, and Diversity (LEAD Alberta), and volunteer legal counsel for the Women’s Centre of Calgary. Prior to law, she was a senior director in public relations and a researcher for the Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children. She worked for the Liberal Party of Canada as well as the BC Liberal Party for political leaders such as Stephane Dion, Paul Martin and Christy Clark.

Denise has earned awards in sex discrimination law, leadership in business and the law, and outstanding community leadership. She is proficient in French and Spanish.

Learn more about Denise or follow her on Twitter (@brunsdon).

Anthony Sayers

Anthony is a previous guest on the What on Earth is Going on? podcast, when he discussed the division of political power with Ben. He received his undergraduate education at the University of Western Australia and completed an MA and Ph.D at the University of British Columbia. His research deals with major political institutions including political parties, elections, federalism and parliaments. He is particularly interested in the organizational and campaigning aspects of political parties and the distribution of power in federal states, and wrote Parties, Candidates, and Constituency Campaigns in Canadian Elections. He also writes about Alberta provincial politics.

Listen to Anthony in Episode No. 13 or learn more about him.

The Quote of the Week

"Politics is the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen."
- Winston Churchill