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Politics and its Discontents: Oops!

It seems that a candidate for Alberta’s Wildrose party, Rick Strankman, has made a bit of a faux pas, one that he blames, as politicians are wont to do, on a volunteer: A Wildrose candidate was forced to apologize and retract a poster Thursday that called on party supporters to bring their wives’ pies to a meet-and-greet.

The poster encouraged constituents in Drumheller-Stettler to attend an “old fashioned pie auction” next week and “BYWP (Bring Your Wife’s Pie!!)”

Meanwhile, rumours abound that Strankman has hired a new campaign manager:

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The Cracked Crystal Ball II: Brian Jean: WildRose’s Second Lake Of Fire?

Newly minted WildRose party leader Brian Jean is running around the province trying to drum up votes like every other politician in Alberta these days.  His latest “fear” seems to be that the PCs are going to start sliming his party.

“I think they’ll even claim our ethnic candidates areracist. I wouldn’t be surprised.” 

The interview is over but a couple minutes later Jean phones back. He wants to add something. 

He says the PC run the same kind of playbook as the federal Liberals tried on Stephen Harper. Remember, Jean served in the Harper government, as (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Now we’re just haggling over the price

Others have rightly wondered whether the Wildrose Party’s new promise to make floor-crossing MPs pay a price to the party will be enforceable at all. But it’s also worth examining how it might affect MLAs’ decision-making – with the result potentially being the exact opposite of what Brian Jean intends.

Previously, the bar to Wildrose MLAs crossing the floor was a moral one: the promise, to constituents and party alike, that MLAs would resist the temptation to join another party. And while that bar may have failed to stop Danielle Smith and others from breaking their promise, it certainly seems (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: New column day

Here, on how the sudden disappearance of Danielle Smith and her fellow Wildrose Party defectors offers a case in point of the dangers of forgetting that politicians ultimately answer to the public.

For further reading…- CBC reported on the actual deal between Smith and Jim Prentice here, while Darren Krause reported on Smith’s nomination defeat. And CBC examines Wildrose’s bounce back in the polls as it elected a new leader.- Don Braid notes that Smith was warned about some of the dangers of crossing the floor at the time, while Andrew Coyne sees a bait and (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Alberta, I give you Alison Redford, Person of the Year for 2014!

Former premier Alison Redford at the moment of her leadership campaign victory in 2011. Former opposition leader Danielle Smith in a typical campaign pose last summer.

Back in the mists of time, or rather, Time, there used to be a regular December feature called “Man of the Year.”

That was amended to “Person of the Year” in the 28th year of Progressive Conservative rule here in Alberta, and no doubt many in that party are still upset by the change, being symptomatic, as it were, of that other kind of PC they so love to disparage.

Other (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Enough with the fantasy Wildrose was Alberta’s best opposition, already! It’s baloney!

And then there were five: The Wildrose caucus back before it experienced civil war, desertions and mass defections, including that of its leader, the woman in red above. Below: former NDP leader Brian Mason and current Leader Rachel Notley; effective Liberal MLAs David Swann and Hugh Macdonald.

One of the more irritating byproducts of mass defection by the Mudville Nine and two of their caucus colleagues who rejoined the Tory Mothership a few days earlier has been the outright wholesaling of the nonsensical claim the Wildrose Party was the most effective opposition Alberta has ever known.

Jen Gerson and Jesse (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Jim Prentice revealed as Hayek ‘disciple’; Heather Forsyth to lead Wildrose rump; Preston Manning says he’s sorry … and more!

A crowd of typical Albertans reacts to the news Danielle Smith and most of her caucus have gone and joined Premier Jim Prentice’s PCs. Below: Mr. Prentice; neoliberal saint Friedrich Hayek; Preston Manning, who is really, really sorry he didn’t counsel a vote or something; interim Wildrose Leader Heather Forsyth; and new Tory MLA Gary Bikman.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t think the most interesting news tidbit yesterday was that Heather Forsyth will become the new “Wildrump” leader, Preston Manning’s peculiar apology for accidentally uniting the right, the government’s sneaky tuition fee increases, or even the poll (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Never mind the Mudville Nine: Nothing has changed, nothing ever will, that is all!

“Your health. Our promise.” It’s March 1, 2013, and then-premier Alison Redford announces plans to build a new cancer treatment facility in Calgary to replace the grubby and overcrowded Tom Baker Cancer Centre. (Photo grabbed from Metro Newspapers.) But that was then. This is now. Below: Alberta Health Minister Stephen Mandel; the Tom Baker facility in northwest Calgary.

As Danielle Smith might have said, were she still the leader of the Opposition, “nothing has changed!”

On Friday, mass media were uncritically reporting the “reasons” the new cancer hospital promised to Calgary on which construction was supposed (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Blogger Brian Mason explains why Jim Prentice, ‘Alberta’s first Wildrose premier,’ is preparing to call a snap election

Former NDP leader Brian Mason in a couple of typical poses, above and below. I’ll bet you didn’t know he was a terrific political blogger too!

Jim Prentice is Alberta’s first Wildrose premier and he will soon call a snap election to ensure he can push forward a Wildrose program of using temporarily low oil prices as justification to roll back public sector salaries, attack pensions, reintroduce health care premiums and lay off nurses and teachers.

This sharp and credible warning comes from someone who should be better known as a political blogger than he is, a shrewd analyst of (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: On representative units

Does anybody remember which particularly prominent political pundit went far out his way to trumpet the idea that basic unit of political legitimacy is the caucus – to the point of repeatedly advocating a legislated requirement that a caucus vote override the decisions made by the whole of a party’s membership?

I ask only because he seems to have been replaced with a far more reasonable impostor.

By the majority-of-caucus standard set under Michael Chong’s Reform Act (or the stronger forms suggested by Andrew Coyne among others), the decision of a majority of Wildrose Party MLAs to join up with (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Danielle Smith’s conduct and the mass Wildrose defection must be seen as character issues

Former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith with her new boss, Premier Jim Prentice, at yesterday’s news conference announcing the defection of the nine Wildrose caucus members to the Progressive Conservative Party. (Photo by Dave Cournoyer, used with permission.) Below: Another shot of the pair in an informal moment at the start of the news conference.

It’s a character issue.

Certainly the recent conduct of the leadership of the Wildrose Party, which this afternoon culminated with the desertion of most of its key elected officials to Premier Jim Prentice’s ruling Progressive Conservative caucus leaving their loyalists and supporters in the (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Hatched in secret, today’s expected mass Wildrose defection to PC benches, brings party to a pathetic end

The captain of the RMS Wildrose and her officers slip quietly away from their sinking ship in the darkness. Actual Wildrose leaders may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith and Wildrose House Leader Rob Anderson. Both are expected to be rewarded for abandoning ship with cabinet posts in PC Premier Jim Prentice’s government.

As of today – even before we are certain of everything that has happened in the last 48 hours or what will happen in the next 48 – we can be confident of this: the Wildrose Party is finished.

I do not mean (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Breaking News

Wow!

Seven Wildrose MLAs are planning to cross to Alberta’s governing Progressive Conservative party, CBC news has learned.

Two party sources said the seven are: party leader Danielle Smith, House Leader Rob Anderson, and MLAs Jeff Wilson, Gary Bikman, Pat Stier, Blake Pederson and Jason Hale.

Members of the 14-person caucus met Tuesday afternoon to discuss an offer from the PCs, led by Premier Jim Prentice.

MLAs Shane Saskiw, Drew Barnes and Rick Strankman said on social media that they were planning to stick with the Wildrose, which is the official opposition.

Currently, the PCs have 63 seats, the Liberals (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: A Merger In The Offing?

My son, who lives in Alberta, keeps me apprised of that province’s politics. Will Wildrose join Jim Prentice’s Progressive Conservatives? Speculation is rampant.

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Alberta Diary: Friends close; enemies closer? Rumours abound Wildrose is about to return to PC mothership

Say it ain’t so, Danielle! Your blogger with … Progressive Conservative Deputy Premier? … Danielle Smith. Below: Shoeless Joe Jackson.

Tout le monde political Alberta was abuzz last night with rumours the entire Wildrose caucus is on the verge of walking over and joining Premier Jim Prentice’s Progressive Conservatives, perhaps as soon as today.

The Wildrosers will be briefed at today’s caucus meeting, then the Provincial Government of Petroleum Unity will be formed, or so goes the universal rumour.

This makes so little sense that, this being Alberta, it’s probably true. Certainly it will be close to unprecedented in the (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Prentice Government takes Alberta from boom to bust in one weekend, breaking all records

Premier Jim Prentice points the way for public spending in Alberta now that our boom has gone bust again. Oil prices, ya know… But read the Reaper’s grim lips: “No new taxes!” Actual Alberta premiers may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Finance Minister Robin Campbell, Infrastructure Minister Manmeet Bhullar and Labour Minister Ric McIver, three of the Seven Horsepersons of the Alberta Fiscal Apocalypse

Guess what, we’re broke again out here in The Richest Place on Earth! ™

Yesterday, citing the spectacular recent drop in oil prices, Alberta Premier Jim Prentice pulled his Grim Reaper’s hood over (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: A political oddity hits the big time – but what do we really know about Michael Cooper?

Michael Cooper turned up door knocking on your blogger’s doorstep in St. Albert last summer. A photo was required! Below: Independent St. Albert Member of Parliament Brent Rathgeber, former Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day and journalist Paul Wells.

ST. ALBERT, Alberta

Every few years, Michael Cooper seems to pop onto the national news radar. The first time, it was as a political oddity, a sort of human-interest story with an edge.

The story appeared under a headline in the National Post that read, “Not your average high school senior: ‘Blood sport’ of politics has lured Michael Cooper most of his (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: The accountability ship has sailed, Bill 2 notwithstanding; Premiers Jim Prentice and Ralph Klein compared

A pensive Ralph Klein, maybe thinking about his worst political mistakes. Below: Jim Prentice and Alison Redford, also Alberta premiers. Premier, you’re no Ralph Klein!

Accountability legislation?

Oh, well … that changes everything!

All sarcasm aside, people, I think that ship has sailed, actually …

Bill 10, legislation designed to make it hard to form gay-straight alliances in schools, having turned into an embarrassing flop that won’t go away, Premier Jim Prentice yesterday introduced Bill 2, a law that in the words of the headline on the government’s news release, “aims to improve accountability and restore trust with (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Insufficient data, bad planning and so-con overreach help explain Prentice Government’s gay-straight-alliance gong show

Led by Premier Jim Prentice, members of the PC cabinet try to get away from the issue of gay-straight alliances in Alberta schools. Actual Alberta politicians may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: The real Mr. Prentice, Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman and caucus rebel Thomas Lukaszuk.

The spectacular incompetence exhibited by the Prentice Government in its effort to curry favour with social conservatives by scuttling an opposition MLA’s private bill to protect gay-straight peer support groups in Alberta’s schools is breathtaking, reminiscent of the Redford Government’s lowlights.

This is “new management”?

Late yesterday, Premier Jim Prentice tried to press the (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: What are Premier Jim Prentice and his three ‘agents of change’ planning for Alberta’s public service?

Alberta civil servants: do you get the feeling someone may have their eye on you? Below: Agents of change Richard Dicerni, Ian Brodie, Oryssia Lennie and Steve West.

Premier Jim Prentice says he intends to “reform” Alberta’s public service, fix its low morale, reverse its “shocking” turnover and deal with its other “very significant problems.”

He’s appointed a former senior federal civil servant and well-connected business professor to be his “agent of change,” along with a couple of right-hand persons to assist with this change agentry. Their work will start immediately.

Sounds way better, huh, than former premier Alison (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Alberta Tories are swinging right, paradoxically because of the implosion of their right-wing brethren in the Wildrose Party

Family values: Not so long ago they were all swinging left, but now the Progressive Conservative caucus of Premier Jim Prentice is swinging right. Getting ready to launch, from left to right, new PC caucus member Kerry Towle, Mr. Prentice, new caucus member Ian Donovan, and an unidentified former Redford Government cabinet minister. Actual Alberta politicians may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: The real Mr. Prentice, NDP Leader Rachel Notley, Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith and Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman.

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley, Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman and Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark were onto (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Collapse of rickety Wildrose coalition of market fanatics and religious fundamentalists could be bad-news/good-news story for Alberta’s NDP

A recent meeting of the Wildrose Party Legislative caucus. Actual members of the official Opposition party may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: NDP Leader Rachel Notley and Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith.

Monday’s bombshell that the rickety coalition of ideological market-perfection fanatics and social-conservative religious fundamentalists called the Wildrose Party was coming unstuck may turn out to be a bad-news/good-news story for Alberta’s New Democrats.

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith’s big problem – other than the fact she appeared to have been completely out of the loop last week about the upcoming defections of MLAs Kerry Towle and Ian Donovan – (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: Wildrose Party endures its cruelest day as two MLAs quit to join Jim Prentice’s PC government

Ian Donovan, Alberta Premier Jim Prentice and Kerry Towle at yesterday afternoon’s floor-crossing news conference in the Legislature Building. (Ici Radio-Canada photo.) Below: Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith and quotable former prime ministers Harold Wilson, Brian Mulroney and Winston Churchill.

There was the cruelest sort of irony in the battering suffered yesterday by Alberta’s Wildrose Opposition, which lost two MLAs to the apparently rejuvenated Progressive Conservative Party of Premier Jim Prentice.

Kerry Towle, MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake and last week the party’s seniors and human services critic, and Ian Donovan, MLA for Little Bow and the party’s agriculture (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: The bloom is off the (Wild)rose – Opposition Leader Danielle Smith assailed by doubts, dissent and departures

Are the wheels falling off the Wildrose bus, which may or may not look exactly as illustrated any more? Below: Beleaguered Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith, Taber-Warner-Cardston MLA Gary Bikman and Wildrose House Leader Rob Anderson.

These may be happy days for the Progressive Conservatives under Premier Jim Prentice, but the bloom is definitely off Alberta’s Wildrose Opposition.

Just weeks ago seen as a sure bet to be the province’s next premier, Wildrose Opposition Leader Danielle Smith is today buffeted by an embarrassing scrap between her party’s social conservatives and socially progressive members over LGBTQ rights, troubled by questions about her (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: WildRose Revisited

The other day I wrote a post about the Wildrose Party’s retraction of its definitive equal rights clause that covered almost every conceivable individual. Although leader Danielle Smith had enthused the day before about its inclusiveness, when party delegates voted it down, she quickly changed her tune, saying that the more generic substitute was better.

In this morning’s Globe, Gary Mason offers his own view on what many see as a regressive step for Wildrose, and what he calls yet another ‘bozo eruption.”: The change was important for a political institution that is still viewed suspiciously in some (Read more…)