Friday, 21 March 2014


EDMONTON EXISTENTIAL

 

Alberta Premier Says Good Night, Calls It a Day

 

No matter what anyone thinks of her policies, Alison Redford was undone by an old party machine badly in need of replacement. She deserved better. Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark as quoted in this week’s Edmonton Journal.

 

This is… a human story. It is about a real person, a good person, a person who loves this province and has worked and made incredible sacrifices… And it’s the story of a system that takes someone like that and chews them up and spits them out. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi as quoted in this week’s Edmonton Journal.

 

Alberta’s politics sometimes seem as stagnant as a tar sands tailings pond. The Progressive Conservatives have owned the legislature since 1971 when they unseated the Social Credit Party who’d grown complacent since their first majority in 1935. The stability of decades of Tory dominance in Edmonton, four and creeping, is somewhat preferable to the ‘Oh Christ, here we go again’ fatalism inflicted upon citizens by the ever shifting sentiments of the national assembly in Quebec City. Yet out here hard by the eastern slopes of the Rockies, things don’t seem quite as copasetic as they once did.

 

Alison Redford is the third Tory premier to be deposed in the past ten years. As with the orchestrated demises of her two predecessors, Ralph Klein and Ed Stelmach, her personal popularity was polling in the bottom of a trough, perhaps a pork barrel. Perception is everything and long knives were sharpened in Tory committee rooms across the province. The PCs have always been willing to eat their own in exchange for retaining power.

 

Redford of course made some dreadful missteps. These times have been uncertain for most taxpayers and she wasn’t wise to blatantly leverage the publicly funded perks that go with shilling pipelines. There is some evidence that Redford was too progressive for old guard PCs. It’s no secret that Prime Minister Harper and his cadre of federal Progressive Conservatives were rooting for the far right Wildrose Party during Alberta’s last provincial election held just 29 months ago.

 
‘The party’ is a vaguely sinister phrase. It evokes Darkness at Noon in 1984. Alberta PCs seem equally ruthless when it comes to neutralizing their elected, though inconvenient, leaders. There is an overwhelming suggestion that the party, and therefore the province, is governed from backstage by an elite of unelected Tory rainmakers. The Journal reports that the party has already begun tinkering with the mechanism it utilizes to select its public figurehead. The next leader will be someone they want, the dues paying grassroots membership be damned. The fix is underway. The fix, like the internal rot, is in.

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