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no shock and awe, alberta pc leadership debate was a tame affair.

Alberta PC leadership Debate 2011
PC leadership candidates on the set of the Global TV debate: Doug Horner, Gary Mar, and Alison Redford.

Last night’s Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership debate, broadcast live province-wide on Global Television and QR77 and 630CHED, was a tame affair.

Overshadowing the evening was the recent passing of candidate Alison Redford‘s mother, who had been admitted into the hospital in High River the day before. Despite what must have been an incredibly difficult day, Ms. Redford demonstrated personal strength and delivered a strong performance during the debate. She was also the only candidate not to refer to notes during the course of the debate, only glancing at her notes during her opening and closing remarks.

None of the three candidates hit a home run during the debate, but each of the candidates demonstrated their own strengths and solid speaking skills. Each of the candidates highlighted their experience, both at and away from the cabinet table.

Unlike the 2006 leadership contest, where there were very obvious ideological and policy differences between the top three candidates, the three candidates standing at the podiums last night share similar political space within their party, with some notable exceptions.

Over the course of the hour-long debate, Ms. Redford and Doug Horner honed their criticisms on first-ballot front-runner Gary Mar. A seasoned politician of almost 20 years, Mr. Mar was quick to fend off criticisms of his support for privatized healthcare and his quiet acceptance of more than $400,000 in MLA transition allowance when he became Alberta’s chief lobbyist in Washington D.C. Both Ms. Redford and Mr. Horner took positions that health care can be improved from within the public system, rather than introducing more for-profit health care. They also raised the issue of trust in reference to Mr. Mar’s transition allowance flip-flop.

Mr. Mar played the front-runner game during the debate, saying a lot without actually saying much. Mr. Mar is intelligent and articulate, but his highly staged campaign has given him the air of an overly polished professional politician. He took every opportunity to remind the viewers that unlike his two opponents, he did not sit at Premier Ed Stelmach‘s cabinet table (though most of that cabinet table is now supporting Mr. Mar).

Ms. Redford and Mr. Horner used the debate to differentiate themselves from Mr. Mar on issues including health care, education, municipal affairs, and the oilsands. Mr. Mar earned 40% on the September 17 first-ballot vote, which presents a tough challenge for any candidate trying to close that lead. Is it impossible? No. Is it improbable? Maybe.

PC members will vote in a second-ballot preferential vote on October 1. If no candidate receives more than 50% on the second-ballot, the third place candidate will be dropped off and their second place votes will be redistributed among the top two candidates.

A big thanks to Rob Breakenridge for inviting me to talk about the PC leadership debate on his radio show on QR77 and 630CHED last night.

9 replies on “no shock and awe, alberta pc leadership debate was a tame affair.”

PC members seem much more tolerant of integrity challenged politicians than were the federal Liberals — in addition to a double dipping scandal that would make even Carl Benito blush, Mr. Mar’s main claim to fame is the other near half million taxbucks in untendered contracts he funneled to his best bud for “oral advice”. You’ll recall in ’02 when a Chretien Defence Minister spent <10% of that on a friend's written report on PTSD and was promptly dumped from cabinet.

I wonder… would Global TV’s live broadcast of what is really only an internal party election debate be deemed a “donation” to the PC Party of Alberta? Or, if the PC Party paid for the time, is it an “ad”, subject to whatever spending limits (if any) might be in place between general elections? Would any private or public broadcaster even air a debate among candidates for a political party leadership in any other jurisdiction in Canada? Just wondering…

The tories are trying to colonize your mind! Do not participate in their election.
You would need an electron microscope to discern the differences between these three. Can’t anyone remember what happened last time? Or the time before that? These same three will run roughshod over the public interest starting next spring, unless we take a lot of seats away from them.

Even in this tame debate, Horner clearly exposed Mar for what he is: out of touch with Albertans and taking all he can get but doing the minimum.

Mar strangely, felt his previous post as Health Minister under Klein, was a benefit, when actually it brought forth the pathetic results in health care that we now suffer.

Horner had good solutions and is very in tune with what Albertans’ want in their public health care system and how to get it there.

Redford is the only one that represents a clear departure from the old way of doing things, the same old pals, the same old chums with oil companies, the same old back office dealings. I am voting Redford on October 1st and hope many other Albertans do the same!

Come the real election, I will be voting for the Alberta Party!

I’m with Sherry. Redford is the only PC candidate who supports a judicial inquiry into political interference with healthcare (a litmus test for transparency and accountability if ever there was one). Public healthcare and other public services wouldn’t be completely dismantled under her leadership. But when it comes to the general election I’m voting for the AP.

Which brainwave suggested that you could only effect change by NOT voting? C’mon, People, Now!
The fact of the matter is, whether you like it or not, the next Premier is one of these three. I for one would rather have one who supports Alberta values as opposed to American values.
I want a clear, articulate, purposeful and principled Premier. I want to get out of this “good ol’ boys club” mentality, which unfortunately both Mar and Horner are part of. I want Alison Redford, because I believe that only she can effect real change in the PCs.
I’m still afraid that with the PCs moving so far away from blue that too many people who have tunnel-vision on that colour will go to the WRP. I really hope people actually follow policy, not colour.

The Soviets did the very same thing. Its clever, to a point, then its just ridiculous. Vote for the Party. There is only one Party.
Alison Redford is the worst because she pretends to not be what she actually is. At least Mar and Horner make it pretty clear they are neo-liberal, hard right types. Redford tries to hide her own libertarian disposition by coming up with policy she KNOWS she will never have to seriously move forward on, even if she wins. More likely she loses, and runs block and diversion while Horner, Mar, Liepert and the gang run amok. You join the PC party, and you are assisting the PC party.

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