Meet Alberta’s next Premier!

There is just no doubt about it. Jacob Huffman has taken the Alberta Party leadership race by storm and so far looks utterly unstoppable.

Huffman, also known as “The Hurricane” or “The Lemmy Kilmister” of Alberta politics has taken a commanding lead over all other candidates with the bold release of his platform today.

Huffman pays homage to the mushy middle nature of the Alberta Party with his brilliant insertion of the term “possible” right in the title of his platform release.

While playing to the roots of the party about nothing, Huffman also brilliantly dedicates his unabashed support for bringing about the return to power for past supporters of Alison Redford thus leaving his competitors who have beaten around this bush in the political dust.

Along with some fantastic plans for economic stimulus while still recognizing that math is indeed hard, Huffman has fleshed out a fantastic, possible plan for the Alberta Party.

The addition of a puppy picture has ensured that this will indeed be one of the strongest and most popular political platforms that Albertans have ever seen.

All polls conducted since Huffman’s meteoric arrival in the hotly contested race for the leadership of the Alberta Party have clearly indicated that his lead is so strong that his competitors can’t even been seen (or heard or named for that matter).

With scant months remaining in this race, Huffman has set the bar high for all aspiring for that coveted throne enjoyed by the Leader of the Alberta Party (though that throne was recently something of an ejection seat).

Huffman has told me: “I plan on running a fair, and solid campaign, that I’m in it to win it, and will hold people accountable to democratic principals.”

I am quite excited to have purchased a membership in the Alberta Party in anticipation of voting for this visionary young man.

Memberships can be purchased here. 

We are seeing history in the making today.

A top politician indeed.

 

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What if you held a race and nobody showed up?

The bizarre saga of the hapless Alberta Party continues.

It has been eighteen days since Greg Clark was pushed out as leader of the Alberta Party due to a sudden influx of ambitious but unprincipled Progressive Conservative party members from the Redford era. Having gotten their hands on a fresh new party to play with, one would have thought that the tall foreheads behind this putsch would have had the foresight to ensure that their prospective leadership candidates for the upcoming race were solid. Alas, it appears that common sense was lost in their zeal.

Now the odd little party is finishing a legislative session leaderless, can’t even find the means to run a candidate in the Calgary Lougheed by-election and is losing what little credibility it had remaining as the days in what is going to be a very short leadership race tick by with not even a sign of a candidate vying for the position.

Surely the Redford Refugees had a person or persons in mind for the role when they kicked Greg Clark to the curb so ignominiously not so long ago. Party insiders have described the internal workings of the Alberta Party since the takeover as “a train wreck”.

I am guessing that the prospective candidates took a look at the moribund little party with no money in the bank that & now wracked with internal discord due to the weaselry involved in punting Greg Clark and they wisely headed the hell to the hills.

In any real leadership contest, prospective candidates begin voicing their public interest as soon as a vacancy presents itself. One can’t start too early in order to raise funds, build a team and sell memberships in order to win the race. Even tire kickers will at least air some interest into the public to gauge potential support for a run.

The silence regarding the leadership vacancy with the Alberta Party is truly deafening. They haven’t even drawn fringe crackpots to the race yet. This is truly a singular situation in politics.

The Christmas season is looming. That is a campaign dead zone from about December 15 until into the new year. That leaves about seven viable campaign weeks remaining if a candidate should throw their hat into the ring today.

I expect that they will scrape together a candidate or two by the time a deadline is reached. Hardly a position of strength when they have to work so hard to find one or two people who even want the job.

While the Alberta Party is clearly no threat on the electoral scene, this unique situation still makes it an interesting and unfolding story to behold. The machinations of the remnants of the once mighty Redford machine while as unprincipled as ever clearly don’t maintain the strategic wisdom of the past nor any real fiscal backing. The Alberta Party had just doubled its caucus and was actually gaining a bit of momentum. They then let their legs get cut out from under them by some homeless Progressive Conservatives who clearly knew so much better than the stalwarts running the party.

Perhaps the old Alberta Party guard will rally under Greg Clark and he can win back the role that he was pushed from. That looks like the best hope for the party right now. Then maybe they will have a hope of retaining a single seat in the next general election. Otherwise they are looking pretty dead.

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Rejuvenated Alberta Party already dead in the water.

The first strategically questionable move made by the Redford era management who have taken over the Alberta Party was to push out the personable leader Greg Clark and to trigger a sudden leadership race. The next move was the choice to refuse to run a candidate in the Calgary Lougheed by-election.

The flaccid rationale for forcing a leadership race was that they needed it to create buzz and sell memberships. Isn’t that exactly what running a candidate in a high profile by-election would do too? The reality is that those who took over simply want Clark out. While leadership races do indeed create buzz and sell memberships, they are terribly expensive for the party to run and party donations dry up for months while leadership candidates tap traditional party donors for their own campaigns. Somebody like Stephen Carter already knows this of course.

By-elections tend to be good for the party. Running a campaign means regular media opportunities and ongoing activity while galvanizing volunteers and members as they participate on the ground. Profile is raised and memberships are sold as people knock on doors throughout the community. Valuable campaign experience for party members is gained in these events. Even without a win there is a clear net-benefit for a party in running in by-elections.

In an absurd release, the Alberta Party has said that they will not run in the Calgary Lougheed by-election because it is “a foregone conclusion”. 

With the logic demonstrated in this choice to deny voters a chance to vote for them in Calgary Lougheed, it only stands to reason that the Alberta Party will only run a candidate in Calgary Elbow in the general election. The party has difficulty passing the 5% support range in pretty much every other constituency in Alberta.

It is somewhat ironic that while the Alberta Party has been pushing the theme of being “A party for everyone” when that everyone apparently does not include the electors in Calgary Lougheed.

In what universe does a party only run candidates when they know they will have 100% chance of winning? The only parties that could possibly take such a bizarre stance are those that already enjoy some pretty broad popular support throughout the province. The Alberta Party certainly doesn’t enjoy that status at this time (nor will they as long as they are too callow to contest elections).

For political wonks like myself, it will be interesting to watch the strange actions of this party that is now built on a mound of sour grapes. The whole raison d’être of a political party is to run candidates in an election. I guess until the Alberta Party finds it in itself to do so, it will simply be a social club where they will reminisce about the good old days under the Redford Regime before she fell in disgrace.

So far no leadership candidates have burst on to the scene vying for the leadership of the Alberta Party. Not too shocking I guess when they so openly display electoral impotence right out of the gate.  I expect that Team Redford already has somebody they intend to anoint in the role that they forced Greg Clark to vacate last week. One has to wonder if the race will have more than one candidate running.

While the party constantly demands to be taken seriously, they seem to go out of their way to ensure that people can’t take it seriously. Greg Clark just said last weekend that he anticipates the Alberta Party will win the 2019 general election. Rather bold statement to make when they are too weak to even run a single candidate in a by-election.

It is sort of sad to watch. While never managing to set the electoral world on fire, the Alberta Party held a somewhat unique niche in our provincial list of parties. Now they seem to be determined to become little more than a footnote.

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The new face of the Redford Progressives

Did you really think that the old operators who ran the Redford Progressive Conservative Party into the ground were going to sit on their hands forever? Of course not.

The likes of Thomas Lukaszuk won’t be forever satisfied just beaking from the political sidelines as he has been doing for the last couple years.

Stephen Carter has been homeless as a partisan operator since Sandra Jansen decided that a leadership run for the PCs was simply too tough to manage and subsequently fled to the NDP to finish out her final term in politics. You know he has been chomping on the bit for a new party project.

To their credit, Troy Wason and Katherine O’neill waited until the end of the last PC leadership race before heading for the political hinterland.

The old Redford guard naturally found themselves drawn to the only partisan bridge that they hadn’t burned yet with the Alberta Party. They needed a new home and with its mushy mix of self proclaimed “centrist” principles, the party was ready to be molded into whatever a person in control wanted to make it into.

It really wasn’t hard to dominate the Alberta Party. Despite their having a seat and having made a relatively decent splash for their size, their membership was tiny along with their management team. If the financials are to be believed, the Alberta Party had less than 400 members at the end of 2016. Perhaps more if some had purchased multi-year memberships in prior years but there really was not much of a base. The strength of the party executive is always a reflection of the member base.

A handful of determined, experienced operatives suddenly entered the Alberta Party scene and they brought all of the principles that they used to practice within the Redford Regime with them. The small, well meaning and idealistic group who ran the Alberta Party never had a chance.

The Redford refugees faced one obstacle however. The one shining point of strength within the Alberta Party was its congenial and bright leader, Greg Clark. While Clark made great inroads in his own constituency, he simply couldn’t break out from his niche and the Alberta Party remained in its moribund state of low poll numbers, funds and membership levels.

According to Don Braid with the Calgary Herald, Alberta Party executive meetings were held where the discussion point was on how to change the rules in order to force a leadership race. As pressure mounted, Greg Clark resigned as leader rather than finding himself forced out of his role.

Nice guys do finish last.

Ever the team player, Greg Clark refuses to lob bombs back at the party though he surely must be feeling pretty used. Clark even kindly did his resignation on a Friday afternoon in hopes of keeping it out of the larger news cycle. While Clark and others are trying to claim he is doing this to create buzz for the party, the timing puts lie to this. It would have been a Monday morning release in that case and would be much more than a quick resignation.

Surely Team Redford has a candidate or two in mind to lead the new incarnation of their old PC  party. These kind of backroom operatives won’t open a party void without a plan to fill it. It will be interesting to see who pops out of the woodwork in the pending Alberta Party AGM. It will be even more interesting to see who is backing the aspiring leaders.

Its ironic that Kenney is so often accused of wanting to turn the provincial clock back when we see such an organized movement trying to bring about the return of the disgraced Redford Regime.

A sad end for a party and its leader that tried so hard to do politics the nice way.

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The Progressive Conservative establishment selected their candidate

janse

Now that the remnants of the Progressive Conservative Party old guard have finished trying to rig their leadership race rules as tightly as possible in favor of the party status-quo (which is moribund and indebted), they have now settled on their preferred candidate.
For those who want to turn the clock back and return to the Progressive Conservative Party that held no solid principles and governed simply based on the rationale of retaining power, Sandra Jansen is the clear candidate of choice.
Through her own actions over the years, Sandra has exemplified the shallow, self-serving, opportunism that the Progressive Conservative Party had come to represent after holding power for over four decades in Alberta.
Jansen never held or shared any conservative principles with the party of her choice. Jansen is and was a Liberal through and through as she demonstrated many times over the years. Sandra was canny enough to realize that if she aspired to rise above an opposition seat in Alberta and gain a cabinet position or even the Premiership, she would have to pretend to be a conservative and gain her seat through the party that appeared to her as being an unbeatable juggernaut (at that time).

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Jansen happily jumped on board with Alison Redford as Redford sold her party’s political soul to unions in order to win the party leadership (Redford later betrayed those union supporters too of course). As a loyal Redford supporter, Jansen was rewarded with a minor associate minister’s portfolio.


Even in an obscure ministerial role, Jansen could not help but let her Liberal elitism leak out as she embarrassed herself by berating electricians as being too low of form of trade to maintain political roles.
Jansen quickly scurried into hiding and let the party take care of damage control due to Sandra’s rather embittered outlook on tradespeople was exposed.

electrician
As Redford fell into disgrace, Jansen wisely kept a low profile and waited to see who the next leader to latch on to would be. That person of course was Jim Prentice. In hopes of climbing the cabinet ladder, Sandra Jansen happily sponsored what would turn out to be a disaster in the first incarnation of Bill 10.
Despite claiming to be a champion for LGTBQ kids, Sandra Jansen sponsored a bill that would force those kids to appear before a judge in court in order to form support clubs in schools if the school or board refused them. As the backlash over Sandra Jansen’s bill grew, things got more absurd as the PCs of the time said that LGTBQ kids no longer would have to appear before a judge in order to form clubs, they would simply have to get an order from the Education Minister. It was also implied that these kids could simply form clubs down the street and away from school property if need be. Gee how progressive Sandra. Would they get off property washrooms and fountains too if there were more concerns?

Sandra Jansen’s version of Bill 10 was a complete catastrophe that offended most of the province. Prentice was forced to intervene and pull the bill off the table in order to try and rework it into something palatable in the spring.
Below we can see Jansen meekly standing aside as Prentice takes over and works to clean up her mess.

jansenprent
Jansen has since claimed that her sponsorship of the bill was a terrible mistake. Hindsight helps that way. In reality, we all know that if the bill had passed in the legislature in it’s first incarnation and had Prentice not disastrously lost the general election that Sandra Jansen would happily be sitting in a cabinet seat in the Prentice government today doing what she is told and aspiring to his role in government.
A strongly principled person would never have sponsored legislation that goes against their personal principles. A person who puts ambition above principle however will do so without hesitation as we saw Jansen do.

If Sandra Jansen had what it takes to be a leader, she would have passed on sponsoring that bill or even spoke against it. Some in the PC caucus of the time did so. What other principles will Sandra Jansen set aside if she feels they will hinder her personal political path? Only time will tell.
The Progressive Conservative Party took what should have been a terribly humbling loss in the last general election. Their complacence and arrogant practices led to Alberta accidentally electing an NDP government. Despite this, the remaining old guard within the party feel that the best course of action is to bring in another leader that is weak in principles and carries the baggage of the last two leaders who left in disgrace.
The PC party has an opportunity to look ahead and re-brand with a new approach or they can elect a retread of Alison Redford who is a little less bright.

redbean

We will find out in the next few months.

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Is there anything Albertan that Alison Redford actually likes?

I think that most can agree that one of the main causes of Alison Redford’s downfall was that she didn’t endear herself to pretty much anybody. It is hard to imagine a person in public service getting into such a high position while being so abrasive to all but Redford managed to pull it off. What Redford proved though was that while a miserable person can manage to get to a high position in public office they simply don’t have a hope in hell of maintaining it in the long run. Due to countless incidents and clashes with staffers, press, opposition members and even her caucus members, when tough times came for Redford she found herself with utterly no allies. The race to throw Redford under the bus by her own compatriots was unprecedented. Nary a voice has been heard to try to make even a weak defense for Redford and this is not for lack of defenses (politicians can always come up with some excuse). The reason nobody is coming to Redford’s defense is simply that nobody likes her.

redbean

Some folks have tried to point out that Ralph Klein routinely abused the provincial aircraft as if this somehow justifies Redford’s abuse of them. It is a sad justification of the abuse and really only proves that Progressive Conservative entitlement has been alive and well in government for a long time. It does bring an interesting question though, how did Klein get away with such abuses with only minor critique when similar actions outright destroyed Alison Redford? The simple answer is that people liked Ralph Klein.

When Klein got himself into trouble (and he often did), he had a masterful knack of extricating himself with an apology and a promise not to do whatever he had done again. That tended to close the matter and we moved on to other things. The reason Klein could do so is that his caucus and a great many of the Alberta public genuinely and simply liked Ralph Klein a great deal. Ralph had allies when the crap hit the fan. Redford had positioned herself to be all alone and it cost her everything.

Politics is a popularity contest no matter how some may wish it wasn’t so. Policy is important but the person presenting that policy is even more important.

So why did people like Ralph Klein so much when Alison Redford earned herself almost universal provincial scorn? The bottom line is that it was clear and evident at all times that Ralph Klein loved Alberta and loved Albertans. It is much harder to dislike somebody when they clearly like you and it is much easier to forgive their errors when they do. Ralph was one of us for better or for worse.

Alison Redford never really appeared to like Albertans. She seemed to suffer the necessity of us at best. Redford never seemed to leave her UN roots behind and felt that her world was to be an elite one of diplomatic functions where Albertans were there to serve her rather than the other way around. This was evident in Redford’s constant incredibly expensive world travel and her efforts to make sure she never had to travel with the unwashed. Redford spoke repeatedly on how she wanted to change Alberta’s culture. I don’t recall Albertans as a whole really asking Redford to change their culture. The only cultural change that Redford brought about was a short term aristocracy with her at the top which thankfully is over with.

The reason I am off on this tirade is a small thing I noticed in the latest FOIP release of information from the Redford Regime. This was from the communications of Redford’s personal travel scout for her globe trotting missions. I feel that trade missions are important but they do have to focus on promoting Alberta and Albertan products as opposed to preening in the diplomatic world of luxury that Redford did.

While on her $450,000 trip to India (the government site still bullshits and claims it cost $131,000), Redford’s very expensive personal travel scout reported: “Getting some intel on India gifting. I think ammonite will work here. I know it may not be premier’s favourite but gemstones are very popular.” This is actually some valuable information from this travel scout. Gifting is an important part of these sorts of missions. It is a sign of respect and it is an opportunity to promote items unique to your nation. This has been done since the days of medieval ambassadors.

It can be seen that the scout made a point to ensure that the translator doesn’t talk to Redford at any time. That gets back to that issue of why nobody really could find themselves liking her.

What is odd here though is that it is clear that Alison Redford does not like Alberta Ammonite (ammolite). Jewellery preference is a very subjective thing but that applies to what one wears personally. When it comes to gifts like this though, one has to look at what you are representing and promoting. Alberta ammonite gems are a growing industry with First Nations involvement. These gems are the rarest organic gemstone on earth as they are only found in Alberta. What could be better to promote on such a mission particularly when gemstones are very popular in the place you are visiting?

Well despite this sage advice, Redford chose to give watercolor paintings of grain elevators to the dignitaries. Art is nice to promote too but I wouldn’t be surprised if the paintings were done by a relative of Redford’s. Why deviate from the advice of the well paid scout? Honestly, why does Redford dislike this stone? Either way, Redford let her personal dislike of ammonite lead to losing an opportunity to promote this Albertan product while on her mission. Why was she supposedly there again?

redpaint

I have to give full disclosure here, my family is involved in the Alberta ammonite/ammolite business. We in partnership with members of the Blood Reserve have been mining and retailing in a manufacturing/retail outlet in Canmore. This is of course what made my ears perk up as soon as I saw the gem mentioned. It has taken decades for Alberta ammonite gems to get recognition worldwide but it has been steadily gaining popularity. Government has never really done the industry any favors unfortunately.

I will take advantage of this issue to segue into giving some background on this great stone though as it is better known internationally than it is right here in Alberta (and of course I will plug the family business).

ammonite

Ammonite is a fossilized nautilus from the cretaceous period around 70 or 80 million years ago. While ammonite fossils are found throughout the world, it is only in small portions of Alberta where the fossils demonstrate the brilliant colors as can be seen in the picture above. The best fields of these gems are on the Blood Reserve in the Saint Mary’s river area. When the gem is harvested from these fossils, it is then called “ammolite” which is why we see both terms used at times. The gem makes stones and pieces such as these below.

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finished

Tours and sales of course are available at the Ammonite Factory in Canmore. It makes for a great day trip and you can’t beat the mining/cutting direct prices provided.

Ahh, there are few things more satisfying than giving a well founded critique of Alison Redford while making a self-serving plug for the family business. 😉

In summary, Redford’s abrasive personality and apparent dislike of most things Albertan led to her downfall and people should pop by the ammonite factory for a good deal on a unique gem.

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Privacy Versus Accountability

The world has changed in a way that I think few saw coming. Many people feared and foresaw a world where we all were constantly monitored by government cameras and lost all privacy. What has happened instead is that we now have a society where nearly every person is carrying a video camera at all times and it has actually led to more accountability from our authorities.

There are some privacy issues and there always will be but I think this trend of citizen empowerment through personal cameras is a good thing for us all.

In 1991 video captured the reprehensible beating of Rodney King and brought to light just how out of control police officers can become at times when they think nobody is watching. At that time, the video was an anomaly as video cameras were large, bulky and expensive. People rarely had one at the ready to shoot such a scene. People could not help but wonder how many other episodes such as the King beating had occurred when nobody could record the moment.

Videos of police abusing their authority are now becoming unfortunately more common but I suspect that as more and more police officers are finding themselves fired and criminally charged when caught assaulting citizens that many more officers are now showing restraint in knowing that their actions may be recorded.

This new accountability extends to officers and their treatment of their own dogs as the video below demonstrates.

::warning:: Lot’s of expletives.

This accountability extends to criminals too. The video below demonstrates scumbag protestors vandalizing property. These sort of video clips help undercut the claims by protesters that they are being unfairly targeted by police.

The video below demonstrated how shallow, bitter and just outright pointless the “Idle No More” protests were. Without citizen video like this, thugs like those recorded may have retained some credibility in the minds of Canadians.

Of course in the political world, we are finding politicians going down as they fail in adjusting to this new degree of public scrutiny.

Rob Ford has proven not only to have some very serious addiction issues, but has demonstrated an utter inability to learn from his past mistakes as he has been caught in a second crack video.

ford

In Alberta, disgraced former Premier Alison Redford demonstrated that despite losing Alberta’s top political job due to her gross sense of entitlement, she still feels entitled to taking a six-figure salary from Alberta taxpayers to live in luxury in Palm Springs while brazenly refusing to do her job. Had a citizen not taken the picture below, Redford may have been able to convince some that she was on some form of government business.

Alison Redford by Kurt Bowley.jpg

Redford’s ongoing crime against good fashion has been recorded in Palm Springs as well.

redbike

Civil servants are not exempt either. This picture below of 10 city of Calgary workers painting a simple green box demonstrates that there is plenty of room for increased efficiency within the City of Calgary despite Nenshi’s denials and his rather sad claim that this was a training session.

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The world is changing and for the most part it is for the better.

Rather than complain about a possible lack of privacy, people should just always act in a manner that is assuming that they are being recorded.

Accountability is never a bad thing.

 

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Choosing the next leader of Alberta’s official opposition

crown

This upcoming leadership race for the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta will be the third one I have observed from the perspective of a Wildrose (formerly Alberta Alliance) supporter. In the last two races it was assumed (correctly) that the P.C. Party was electing the next Premier of Alberta. This time around, it is broadly assumed that the P.C. Party will be electing a person who will be serving as a seat warmer on the provincial throne until Danielle Smith can take it in the next general election. Barring a miracle, there is little that can stop the aforementioned outcome.

The mood and comments from within the Wildrose Party are indicative of how outlooks have changed. Discontent with the Progressive Conservative party’s governance of Alberta was beginning to gain some steam in the last couple years of Ralph Klein’s time as Premier. Spending was increasing dramatically and that party seemed to be losing some of it’s vision and direction. The Alberta Alliance Party had won an upset seat in the prior election along with some strong second place finishes and it was beginning to gain strength though it was still quite small on the Alberta political landscape. The Progressive Conservative Party knives came out and Ralph Klein was given a humiliating 55% support number at the 2006 PC convention which quickly ushered him out the door as Premier.

To be frank, the leadership race devastated the fledgling Alberta Alliance Party. The bulk of our supporters were discontented small c conservatives who had left the Progressive Conservatives and they now had renewed hope for change from within their former party. Our donors dried up and the office phone stopped ringing. Most had more appetite to change the leader of the PCs than take the long road of building a whole new alternative. This problem was hugely exacerbated when our leader & sole MLA Paul Hinman suggested that Alberta Alliance members should take out PC memberships and support the election of Ted Morton as leader. Paul is a truly pragmatic man and thought this approach was what was best for Alberta. It was a terribly weak position coming from an opposition party however.

By the time Ed Stelmach was elected as leader of the PC party, the Alberta Alliance was on virtual life support. Our membership numbered in the hundreds and our bank account held a few thousand dollars at best. A small surge of members returned having given up on Ted Morton’s chances and we carried on. The hope for conservative leaning change from within the PC party was dashed.

Within a few years the self-serving Progressive Conservative knives came out for Ed Stelmach and yet again we were into a leadership race in 2011. Due to Stelmach’s attacks on the energy industry, business support was getting strongly behind the newly branded Wildrose Alliance Party. Stelmach had won a decisive majority in the 2008 election but then continually lost ground to this surging new opposition. A by-election loss in Glenmore, the election of Danielle Smith and the following floor crossings by Rob Anderson, Heather Forsyth and later Guy Boutilier sent a series of shockwaves through the PC party. A coup was coming from within caucus and Stelmach stepped aside before he could be formally thrown out.

Again we saw a degree of support leave the Wildrose Party in hopes that Ted Morton or perhaps even Mar could get the PC Party back on course. The degree of loss of support within the Wildrose in 2011 was much smaller than in the 2006 election. While hindered and distracted by the PC leadership race, the Wildrose Party still continued to work and establish a strong ground presence and developed constituencies. Growth in funds and membership only slowed for the Wildrose during this PC leadership race as opposed to totally drying up as it did in 2006.

When the Progressive Conservative Party not only resoundingly rejected Ted Morton but took a hard left turn in selecting Alison Redford as their leader, support for the Wildrose Party finally solidified. A tipping point of conservative/libertarian Albertans had been reached who had given up all hope on reforming the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta. Growth within the ever evolving Wildrose Party exploded by every measure whether public opinion polling, fundraising or membership numbers. The tone changed within the party and sights were truly set on forming government.

The 2012 election proved two things resoundingly as the Redford campaign barely hung on to power. For one thing the Progressive Conservative machine was vulnerable and could indeed be replaced. The other thing learned at that time was that the Wildrose Party still needed some maturing and evolution in order to be the party to replace the PCs.

Now that the Progressive Conservative Party has tossed out Redford and are into yet another leadership race, the impact of this circumstance on the Wildrose Party couldn’t be more different than it had been in 2006 and 2011. While some folks are trying to imply that the Wildrose Party desperately hoped that Redford would remain as the Premier in order to truly sink the PC reign, that simply isn’t true.

The Wildrose Party has been growing and evolving and examining itself for years with the goal of replacing the entire government in mind, not just the leader of it. This goal has not changed a bit. As the Progressive Conservatives have ripped apart yet another of their leaders, there is no indication of any loss of Wildrose support to any budding PC leadership candidates. The removal of Redford has not led to hope that the PC party has any chance of internal changes. What the PC coup has demonstrated is that the PCs are in utter turmoil and have no clue how to save their individual, personal political fortunes. No matter who the PCs choose to lead them this time, their party is weakened fiscally, organizationally and morally. These weaknesses are now fatal for this fading party and we can feel it in the Wildrose Party.

Within days of Redford’s resignation, the Wildrose held their leader’s dinner in Calgary. 1000 people packed the house at $400 per plate and the mood was one of nothing but excitement and optimism as people knew they were watching the next elected Premier of Alberta speaking. History is being made as a 43 year old dynasty is finally coming to an end.

Politics are fickle and much can change within a couple years. As I said before though, it will take nothing less than a miracle to turn the Progressive Conservative Party around this time.

Leadership campaigns for the PC party had been traditionally funded by people wanting to curry favor with a future Premier. It will be difficult for candidates to raise the non-refundable $50,000 entry fee (such a grassroots figure), much less the hundreds of thousands required for the rest of the campaign when pretty much all political watchers know that these candidates are running to lead the opposition after the next provincial election.

Nothing can be taken for granted by the Wildrose Party of course. In seeing and feeling three of these races from within the party though, one can tell that the time for a true change of government has finally come.

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Wildrose & Progressive Conservative. What’s the difference?

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As the Wildrose Party has grown and matured as a party, our policies have evolved and moderated every year. We have learned from experience what is realistic and what is acceptable to Albertans and have adjusted our actions accordingly. As the policy set moves towards what some may view as a more mushy middle, some critics have questioned what differences remain between the Wildrose Party and the reigning Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta. While the policies may appear to be getting similar (can’t really find a good copy of the PC ones), the difference between the parties is still immense.

The biggest difference between the Wildrose Party and the PCs is subtle yet profound. The difference between the parties is one of both culture and of attitudes held by both the general membership and senior party members. This huge difference was laid out and exposed excellently in a blog posting by Christina Rontynen who courageously has spoken up from within the PCs.

Christina and her husband Piotr Pilarski have both been very loyal and involved members of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta for years. Christina has now spoken up out of concern for the party that she has given so much to. In return for Christina having expressed frank concerns, she has received a letter of censure from the Party President Jim McCormick.

Letter of censure

The bottom line is that the powers that be in the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta have told a concerned member in no uncertain terms to shut the hell up. This exposes the great difference from the Wildrose  Party and sickness from within the PC Party of Alberta. Redford can’t be blamed for this attempt to gag a concerned loyal member. This missive came from the Party President who is supposed to represent the membership.

 

My wife Jane and I have both been very vocal and outspoken when we have felt that some elements within the Wildrose Party may be trying to move things in the wrong direction. We have been critical of the Wildrose Party on a number of occasions. Jane is a former Executive Director for the Wildrose and has served in a number of executive capacities while I served multiple terms on the party executive. Both Jane and I are past candidates for the party. Serving in those sorts of roles does not mean we can no longer be openly critical of the party at times as McCormick has implied in his letter to Rontynen.

Jane and I have surely made many senior members of the Wildrose Party grind their teeth when we have gotten openly cranky with the party. I have gotten more than one grumpy phone call from higher-ups in the party asking what I am up to. One thing that has never happened though is that nobody in the Wildrose Party considered for even a second to tell Jane or I to shut up!

The culture of the Wildrose Party is still one where the concerns of the membership (and Albertans) are paramount. The party is still relatively new and embraces internal critique as part of it’s growth rather than try to stifle it. Perhaps if the Wildrose Party held power for 43 years in Alberta these values and attitudes would change but for now the party is as grassroots as it gets despite taking an increasingly pragmatic approach to it’s actions.

The culture and attitude of a party can’t be captured in a policy statement. Those things can only been viewed in actions and felt within membership. Even if the Wildrose Party and the PC Party had the exact same policy set (they certainly don’t), the difference in cultures within these two parties would still set them greatly apart.

The Progressive Conservative Party acts only for the benefit of the party itself. The Wildrose Party is still dominated by the ideal of service for the benefit of the province and acts through the guidance of the party membership. That difference is and will remain tremendous no matter who may lead the Progressive Conservative Party next.

 

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Alison Redford hits tinpot dictator status in her latest petty move.

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During a crisis elected representatives on all levels take on a new role of leadership in gathering and disseminating critical information to their constituents. A local councillor, MLA or MP is always well in touch with the area and it’s people and is a familiar face for residents to turn to in a disaster.

I think that well over 99% of people would agree that in a crisis of the magnitude facing Southern Alberta in this disaster that partisanship must be set aside so that all representatives may best serve their constituents. This means including ALL local elected officials MUST be kept fully in the informational loop as briefings are held so that communications may be sent to residents.

Leave it to Alison Redford to hit a truly pathetic new low in having Danielle Smith, the MLA for Highwood kept out from government crisis briefings while putting the long gone former Progressive Conservative MLA on the podium to speak to residents of High River.

That is right, Alison Redford would rather have a former and retired MLA speak to residents rather than the one popularly elected to represent Highwood. I could understand if Smith was from outside of the constituency and was trying to ham in on camera time. In this case, Danielle Smith resides right in the heart of the disaster. Would Redford ban Nenshi from Calgary briefings? Of course not.

Redford is actually purposely interfering with the role and job of an MLA during a literal disaster. I would expect this sort of crap in Russia or Iran where democracy is a mere façade.

I am sure Smith and many others are too polite to say it but I will come right out with it. Redford is a sour and miserable person who has trouble endearing herself to anybody at the best of times. The Premier and her sad little band of communication monkeys are hoping to capitalize politically on one of Alberta’s worst disasters of the century. While Danielle Smith is simply trying to do her job, Redford fears the optics of a hardworking and caring MLA further endearing herself to the electorate through doing her job.

This strategy will backfire Redford as you work quickly to enshrine yourself as Alberta’s most pathetic, self-serving Premier in history. 2016 cant come soon enough.

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