redford’s ‘change from within’ is a nice slogan, but when you take a closer look…

Alison Redford Ed Stelmach Change

"Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss ..." Was Pete Townshend on to something?

Despite the narrative of “change from within” that was made popular after the October 1 leadership vote, the wave of change has not spilled far into the Progressive Conservative ranks since Alison Redford was elected into her new role one month ago.

– The Globe & Mail is reporting that the controversial Kelley Charlebois is expected to be appointed as the next Executive Director of the Alberta PC Party this week. Albertans may remember Mr. Charlebois as the owner of the company that was awarded $390,000 worth of controversial contracts to consult with with then-Health Minister Gary Mar between 2002 and 2004. During the recent PC leadership contest, Mr. Charlebois claimed that he was being unfairly targeted by the media.

– Long-time Tory strategist Susan Elliott has been appointed as the Progressive Conservative Party campaign manager for the next election. Along with 2008 campaign manager Randy Dawson, Ms. Elliott played a central role in Premier Ed Stelmach‘s election campaign.

– While Premier Redford did make a showing of dumping long-time Tory stalwarts from the provincial cabinet, many of the key ministers in her first cabinet are politicians played a central role in Premier Stelmach’s administration. Energy Minister Ted Morton, Human Services Minister Dave Hancock, Finance Minister Ron Liepert, Transportation Minister Ray Danyluk, Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk, and Deputy Premier Doug Horner were all key players in Premier Stelmach’s final cabinet.

– Shortly after being sworn-in office, Premier Redford appointed leadership opponent Mr. Mar as Alberta’s representative in Hong Kong. Mr. Mar’s leadership campaign manager Elan McDonald soon found her way back into the Premier’s office as Advisor to the Premier and Legislative Affairs. She had previously worked in Premier Stelmach’s office.

– It is unclear what his official title will be, but leadership opponent and former cabinet minister Rick Orman is expected to be appointed by Premier Redford to work on a northern Alberta development strategy.

– When entering office, Premier Redford’s transition team also included some old-time Tory connectors, including current Alberta Health Services Chairman Ken Hughes, who was a Tory Member of Parliament under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Nearly all incumbent PC MLA’s who have already been nominated for the next election have been acclaimed and of those who faced nomination challenges only one was defeated (and he is now seeking a nomination in a neighbouring constituency).

City of Leduc Alderman Dominic Mishio unsuccessfully challenged two-term backbencher George Rogers in Leduc-Beaumont, Lars Lehmann unsuccessfully challenged three-term backbencher Alana DeLong in Calgary-Bow, and Rick Fraser defeated three-term backbencher Art Johnston in Calgary-South East. Now the Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier, Mr. Johnston recently announced that he will be seeking nomination in a different constituency (his current constituency is being redistributed in the next election). Jeff Wedman is standing for the PC nomination in St. Albert, though there is some talk that current PC MLA Ken Allred will retire before the next election.

‘Change from within’ is a nice slogan, but when you take a closer look, it looks awfully close to what things look liked before.

13 thoughts on “redford’s ‘change from within’ is a nice slogan, but when you take a closer look…

  1. Jason

    Well, it’s not like me to defend the PCs, but I will.

    Premier Redford does not have a clean slate to work with. The only thing that changed, personnel-wise, when she was elected leader, was the leader.

    As far as cabinet is concerned she has a limited field to pull from and it should not be surprising that when two people try to create the best possible ministry out of a limited pool of candidates that they fall on a lot of the same options.

    The question is not who she has as minister, the question is what she tells them to do, and whether they do it.

    As for candidates, good on the PC party for not putting the leader in charge of their nominations. I wouldn’t want the leader of my party to be able to throw out my candidate.

    As for party staff, I just don’t see why it matters. Party staff don’t make policy decisions.

    It seems to me that there is a chance she is a woman who takes her own political and policy counsel. She has decided not to push an agenda before she knows what the agenda is. I don’t think it’s fair to criticize her for a lack of change when the change you seem to criticize her for not having made is either impossible or unimportant.

    Let’s wait for a throne speech. Then we’ll know what she wants to change, and how she proposes to do it.

    Reply
  2. Lou Arab

    Good list Dave, but there’s more:

    – Redford hired a guy who walked away from a $600K debt and a court order to pay off that debt.

    – Her government had at least three good opportunities to set itself apart from its legacy 1) News that kids in care were being sent to a homeless shelter (and sometimes left to sleep on the street) 2) Reports of municipalities donating to the PC party with tax dollars and 3) oil sands operations laying off union members in favour of temporary foreign workers. In all three cases the PCs acted as they always have and defended the bad practices.

    – The on again, off again legislative session that leaves the government with little accountability to the media, opposition, and the public. Mark my words, after delaying and reducing the session length – I’ll wager the PCs invoke time allocation to get legislation through the house later this month.

    – Redford’s refusal to answer questions about her fixed election date promise – even to say – ‘we’ll introduce legislation on that in the fall/spring’ is worrisome at best.

    – Finally, waffling on one of Redford’s biggest promises – a public inquiry into the charges of intimidation of doctors – now being swept aside with trial balloons about continuing to rely upon the Health Quality Council. Yet another issue where the old boys won the day.

    And to the poster (Jason) above, party appointments matter since it shows that the PCs don’t feel they did anything wrong with Charlebois affair. If they did, they wouldn’t put someone who accepted six figures from the taxpayer without accountability into a position important to their own affairs. Frankly, the fact they think he has the skills to run the PCAA makes me wonder if his contract with Mar was to do some kind of partisan organizing or fundraising work on the public dime.

    Reply
  3. daveberta Post author

    Thanks for the comment, Jason.

    I disagree with your statement on cabinet. There are 66 MLAs in the PC caucus and 19 cabinet ministers. There was the opportunity to bring in an entirely new slate of cabinet ministers. The numbers are there. There was also an opportunity to appoint cabinet ministers from outside the Assembly – if quality of current MLAs is an issue.

    As for candidates and the political staffers, my point was that despite the narrative that the PC Party has undergone a cataclysmic shift under Premier Redford, there is a lot of contrary evidence to dispute that point.

    I remain open-minded as I ever have, but Premier Redford’s first month of ‘change from within’ has not been promising.

    Reply
  4. Edwin Erickson

    That’s not all – some of the brand-new ministers sound a lot like they may as well have been around for decades! Newly appointed Minister of Environment and Water, Diana McQueen, MLA for Drayton Valley-Calmar makes statements in the latest issue of “County Market” that are almost verbatim duplication of the old PC energy/environment line from the past fifteen years. Seems as though the florist left an everlasting bouquet!
    Ho-hum…

    Reply
  5. Chief of Staff to the President of Daveberta

    Actually, Lou, I don’t think Dave forgot those. You see, what Dave has written here are facts that support his case. What you have written is needlessly partisan vitriol that you would use to make a point you are hellbent on making whether you have the evidence to support it or not. Your metaphoric partisan cart is before your metaphoric partisan horse.

    Reply
  6. Darren

    Keep in mind one thing – despite all these so-called demands for change, the Tories continue to out-fundraise all other parties and remain well above all other parties in terms of popularity. If an election were held today, the Tories would easily hold onto another majority government. So why would anyone want to radically change something that appears to be working quite well?

    Reply
  7. Rob H.

    “As for party staff, I just don’t see why it matters. Party staff don’t make policy decisions.”

    Tsk.. tsk.. poor, naive Paula.

    Having seen first hand the impact of party staff, particularly the people who facilitate fund-raising – you would be suprised, clearly, about just how much impact staff has.

    Ask any insider in the party, off the record (because they won’t risk incurring the rather of the party elite) how much impact someone like Ron Glen had, and you will learn that staff has a HUGE say in what goes on in Edmonton.

    They are, in many cases, the non-elected defacto government.

    And it isn’t going to change – and, truly, nothing Alison Redford has done has suggested any real change – other than, if anything, increased misdirected government spending.. mortgaging our children’s future.

    Reply
  8. Sue Huff

    Comment today from one of the students at Centre High: “It doesn’t seem to matter who gets in, no one can deliver substantial change.”

    I was at Centre High today asking students three questions: What do you hate about politics? What can politicians do to change that? What can citizens do to change that?

    Answers (like the one above) were blog-worthy. I’ll be reading through the 80+ sheets of answers and trying to summarize soon.

    Reply
  9. June

    I don’t believe in blaming the “old boys club” or the “same old” ministers – it is definitely Ms. Redford who’s steering this ship – that is squarely where the responsibility lies! She had zero trouble to bulldoze over the naysayers when it came to finding the $107M that she had promised to come up with for education at lightening-speed – she could do the same in other areas if she genuinely wanted to. For example, Ted Morton’s initial letter did suspend all 3 transmission lines just as Ms. Redford had promised pre-election. She instead chose to overturn his instruction!

    Reply
  10. jerrymacgp

    To @Darren: “…Tories continue to out-fundraise all other parties…” is true but misleading, as most of that cash comes from industry. They out-fundraise from the corporate sector because they cater to that sector in all that they do, and corporations want to keep it that way. The NDP and Alberta Party (and to a lesser extent the Liberals) get most of their contributions from ordinary people, whose pockets are not as deep.

    Reply

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