Thursday, January 29, 2015

Alberta Political Drama? Who'd a thunk?

Let's summarize what has happened in the past few months in Alberta politics, shall we?  Let me see if I have this right.  It's so confusing and difficult to keep track, which is why it's important we reflect on recent history.

PC Leadership Race

  1. PC leadership race is a snoozefest for the most part with Thomas Lukaszuk as the dark horse.
  2. During the race, the Jim Prentice campaign gives out free PC party memberships, but nothing really comes of it.
  3. Jim Prentice easily wins the PC leadership and is anointed Premier of Alberta.  The voting system is put into question, but nothing really comes of it.
  4. Prentice appoints unelected people to cabinet, including former Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel to health.

NDP Leadership Race:

  1. MLA Rachel Notley, daughter of former Alberta NDP leader Grant Notley, wins the NDP leadership.  Party easily unites behind her.  Continued strong messaging on a range of issues.

Four By-Elections:

  1. In November, then Wildrose leader Danielle Smith lambasted the Prentice gov't for a multitude of things, but nothing really comes of it.
  2. Four by-elections campaigns occur and the Wildrose campaign team spends a pile of money on TV attack ads right against Jim Prentice and the PCs, but nothing really comes of it.
  3. The Prentice PCs win all four by-elections.

Wildrose falls apart:

  1. Wildrose team members resign. 
  2. Danielle Smith offers to resign as leader.  Wildrose caucus stands "100%" behind her.
  3. At a party policy convention, the Wildrose Party membership votes basically against the Charter of Rights.  
  4. Two Wildrose MLAs cross the floor to the PCs.  Danielle Smith calls them cowards.
  5. Wildrose is depleted of funds.
  6. Backroom negotiations continue to ensue between PCs and Wildrose MLAs, including Smith!
  7. A few weeks later, Danielle Smith, Rob Anderson, and a pile of other Wildrose MLAs cross the floor to the PCs.  The Wildrose are left leaderless with four remaining MLAs. 
  8. Hard and soft Wildrose supporters are mighty pissed off.  Danielle Smith posts reasons on her Facebook page and the large majority of replies are negative toward her.
  9. Wildrose staff aren't paid wages because of a lack of funds.  Private fundraising for them ensues.  But then some get hired on with the PCs anyway.  Sigh.
  10. Heather Forsyth remains and put on as interim leader but will not run again.

Alberta Party?

  1. Interest in the Alberta Party and Greg Clark increases with a good showing in the by-elections.

Prentice envelopes the Wildrose?

  1. Smith explains she believes conservatives need to unite behind Prentice who has now matched the Wildrose on policy and of a threat from the progressive-left.  Really?  Lame.
  2. Former Reform Party leader Preston Manning apologizes for not recommending the Wildrose have a grassroots vote to "rejoin" the PCs.  What?  Oh, so you WERE involved.  
  3. Rob Anderson announces he's not running again because of family.  Then explains it's because of death threats. So really, no point in crossing was there.
  4. Oil prices drop dramatically, massively affecting the provincial budgets and the Alberta economy in general.
  5. Prentice discusses that the flat tax is unfair and also talks about a sales tax.  Sigh.  How's that "policies are the same" talk now, Danielle?
  6. Prentice goes to Arizona and buys a rare $50,000 Ford Thunderbird at an auction. Media latch on, but nothing comes of it.
  7. A pile of PC MLAs, many prominent Stelmach/Redford gov't cabinet ministers, leadership candidates and a former interim premier announce they are not seeking re-election, including Fred Horne, Doug Horner, Dave Hancock, Ken Hughes, and Doug Griffiths.
  8. Danielle Smith apologizes for not knowing how mad Wildrose and Alberta voters would be for her floor-crossing.
  9. Prentice says his MLAs are united.  Not hard to do when most PCs aren't running again.  But does anyone recall how much Danielle Smith railed against then Edmonton Mayor Mandel over the arena and other funding things?  
  10. Rumours swirl that the provincial election will be April 28.
  11. Despite all the progressive PC MLAs not running again, Prentice has to explain that he's been a progressive conservative his whole life and is not implementing far-right policies.

Liberals?  Where?

  1. Liberal leader Raj Sherman announces stepping down as leader immediately--likely from internal pressure.  
  2. Stalwart Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman considers her options for becoming interim-leader and running for leader.

NDP Strike Back

  1. Edmonton-Beverly NDP MLA Deron Bilous gets married to my ex-girlfriend in Mexico.  Yes, you read that right. And yes, I am very happy for them.  Deron is an excellent MLA and his wife is a fantastic person.
  2. Leader Rachel Notley reminds everyone that the NDP is not interested in merging with the Liberals. 
  3. Former Brian Mason announces he's most certainly running again.  Good.  At least there's some stability and high-quality opposition to the gov't.

Wildrose Leadership Race?

  1. Recently ousted Calgary federal Conservative candidate Rob Anders (by a former provincial PC cabinet minister nonetheless) writes a three page letter to the Wildrose executive explaining why he should be the new leader of the Wildrose despite party executive saying he could not in public media.  Even if he did run, would the remaining Wildrose membership vote him in?  Not likely.
  2. No other announcements for leadership yet.  Or any?  Like the Reform Party, is the Wildrose done?
  3. Speaking of which, believe it or not, but The Reform Party of Alberta was recently started by former Alberta Alliance guy Randy Thorsteinsonsenesensenson. 

Snap Provincial Election-Ready?

  1. Jim Prentice strikes back at the opposition parties saying they should always be ready for a snap election.  That's cheap, Jim.  You gut one of the parties then expect them to be ready all of a sudden.

Party Leader Summary

  1. Progressive Conservative -- Former federal Conservative cabinet minister Jim Prentice.  Elected by his membership by giving out free memberships.  Then elected as an MLA in by-election.
  2. Wildrose -- Former PC and current Wildrose MLA Heather Forsyth as interim-leader.
  3. Alberaliberal -- Nobody.  Likely Laurie Blakeman.
  4. New Democrats -- MLA Rachel Notley elected by party membership.
  5. Alberta Party -- Greg Clark elected by party membership.
So really, the only current leader to have been elected in a general election and properly by party membership without scandal is Rachel Notley.

Admit it, all the other parties, including the PCs are all unstable and have been unstable for years, except for the NDP.

The NDP have a prime opportunity here to move to the middle like Jack Layton did in the last federal election and announce some bold tax rebate policies geared directly at the middle class.  Oh, wait, did I just hear federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair just announce the same thing?

Hint hint Rachel.  This is your time to shine when everyone else has mud on their face.