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the definition of silly season. is this what “change” looks like?

Alberta Progressive Conservative election campaign 2012
The wheels came off the Progressive Conservative election campaign this week.

If you are looking for a definition of “silly season” the first week of Alberta’s 2012 provincial election fits the bill. Despite major policy announcements from each of the main political parties this week, the campaign is being reported as a two-party race and defined by personal attacks and silly distractions.

Campaign Bus[t]
On March 19, Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith launched her party’s election campaign in front of the Legislative Assembly building. The unfortunate positioning of her photo on the bus’ wrap gave Ms. Smith her 15-minutes of international fame, with jokes about the bus being lobbed by American comedians Jay LenoJimmy Kimmel, and Ellen DeGeneres.

Push Polls
Led by Wildrose Party cheerleader Ezra Levant, the conservative-leaning SUN TV tackled the Tories for a push poll launched against Ms. Smith. Of course, most media failed to remember the fact that Ms. Smith’s Wildrose Party launched their own nasty push poll against Premier Alison Redford earlier this year.

Who’s more Albertan?
Reminiscent of the federal Conservative Party attacks against former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, Ms. Smith tried to plant the seed in Albertans’ minds this week that Premier Redford is not a real Albertan. At a campaign stop in Edmonton, Ms. Smith told the media she believes the Premier “doesn’t like Alberta all that much.” As has been already pointed out by others, this is a ridiculous statement coming from a party leader who wants to change the government.

Ms. Smith’s statement reminded me of an ad launched by the Republican Party against their Democratic opponent during the 2006 United States Senate election in Tennessee.

Battle Stations
To counter Ms. Smith’s attacks on their leader, the PC war room has set up @WhatSmithSaid, as an attempt to highlight some of the more radical statements made by the former Calgary Herald columnist. Late last year, the Wildrose Party launched The Redford Files, attacking the new Tory leader’s record.

So far, Tory attacks have fallen flat, but with polls showing a real race, I can imagine the Tory war machine is just warming up.

Stupid Tweets
And of course, the most ridiculous statement of the week goes to now former Progressive Conservative campaign staffer Amanda Wilkie. Against better judgement, Ms. Wilkie shot off a tweet at Ms. Smith, accusing her of being insincere about caring for young and growing families because she does not have any children. Ms. Smith’s response could not be more devastating for the PCs.

Is this what “change” looks like?
Despite the silliness of the first week of the campaign, it has been amazing to watch the contrast between the consistent and disciplined Wildrose Party campaign and the flailing and undisciplined PC campaign. Political spin aside, if this first week is a clue about what “change” looks like, Albertans might be feeling buyers remorse after April 23.

19 replies on “the definition of silly season. is this what “change” looks like?”

I think that the blog is interesting for sure. There are some good facts and some opinion as well. I think it is valid to point out that the difference between the push-polls that the WRP did and that the PCAA did, is that the WRP followed the law and identified themselves. The PCAA did break the law by not identifying themselves in the poll.

I found on the doors that the comments about Redford “not really liking Albertans” went over badly. You are right. People don’t like to hear other people’s loyalties and “patriotism” being questioned.
However, that has been overshadowed by the Amanda Wilkie tweet. People are genuinely appalled and offended.(which is great as it shows the basic decency of the general public).
While apologizes have been made and accepted, almost everyone thinks it is the kind of thing that never should have been written in the first place.

I think it’s important to point out the Ms. Wilkie was not on leave to staff the campaign, which means she was not part of the campaign staff. She’s been fired/her resignation accepted, so this issue is closed in my books. It doesn’t excuse it at all of course, I just want to get on to the real issues for this campaign.

If this campaign becomes truly about the issues, Albertans will see through the slick campaign of the Wildrose, and see their proposals in their true light = a step backwards for Alberta.

Excellent synopsis and critique here. I am amazed though not surprised by how nasty and dirty this campaign has gotten so fast: it is as if two Republican candidates were running for the same Governor job south of the border. Oh wait yeah that is pretty much what is happening in this election!

I don’t know about buyers remorse? There is not much difference between a PC and Wildrose government policy wise. I supported Redford’s leadership, but she has been pretty underwhelming so far (example- appointing Kelley Charlebois). I hope that the PC’s being replaced will end the current culture of arrogance and corruption in our government.

This election must be really depressing for the Libs and other people who jumped ship from progressive parties to support the Redford. They may never know what it feels like to win an election.

Speaking of other parties- do you have anything to report about them Dave? While I agree this election is being portrayed as a two party race, potential vote splits could make the other parties players in some ridings.

It’s funny. This is actually the first election in a very long time (if ever) where I’m genuinely undecided about who to support. My political leanings and inclinations, coupled with my desire to end the grip that the good ol’ boys (and girls) of the Alberta PCs have on the province, would seem to indicate that I should support Wild Rose.

However, I still have quite a large number of reservations as to what a Wild Rose government would actually look like, or do. I’ve little doubt that Danielle Smith would make a decent premier – but the premier’s chair is just one of many around the cabinet table to be filled. And frankly, outside a few disgruntled/opportunistic PC leftovers who jumped to Wild Rose, the party is almost completely devoid of anyone with high-level government experience, and seems littered with the true-believer activists and private-sector wannabe politicos that one generally expects from an upstart party.

Not that private sector experience or activist work are things to be totally discounted, but there can be quite a difficult adjustment phase in changing one’s mindset from that of a member of an ideological advocacy group or small-potatoes consulting firm, to that of a pragmatic, reasonable and rounded public official. I worry that such a transition may not be abided by many of the figures popping up as Wild Rose candidates, and the party lacks any sort of experienced “elder statesman” figure to counsel to the contrary.

In short, while I like Smith, I’m getting some distinctly “ADQ”-type vibes from her party, and my reservations may be just significant enough for me to send Redford and the PCs back for another round. Frankly, “competent and corrupt” seems like a better choice than “incompetent and fresh,” especially since Wild Rose would likely find its own little niche for corruption once the election is in the rearview mirror.

“I worry that such a transition may not be abided by many of the figures popping up as Wild Rose candidates, and the party lacks any sort of experienced ‘elder statesman’ figure to counsel to the contrary.”

What about Link Byfield?

Rob L: I don’t remember the Wildrose identifying themselves in their push polls. The poll company they hired did though. That’s still just as insincere as the Tory ones.

Rob W: You make a very important point that WIlkie was not on leave. That’s why her actions are even more deplorable. She was campaigning for the PCs on the taxpayer dime as an official in the office of the Premier.

Who cares if a leader is married or has children. It has ZERO bearing on their ability to do a job. I recently got a flyer where the Wildrose candidate only talked about his family.

THis matters, why? Not at all.

Elder statesmani- I am not particularly impressed with our current elder tatesman or states women. New blood is just what we might need. There are some impressive people running for the WR. Docs, economists, former mayors and municipal councillors – and that does not even count some very good advisors. Many of these “fresh” faces have been running businesses and have been meeting payrolls and making their businesses successful. I think I would rather have them running the show than some of the ones who have just got too comfy in their offices in Edmonton.
Health care is a good example:why do we have the youngest demographics in the country but spend the most per capita and more about sixth in outcomes? That tells me that our business plan is not working ( and yes I do happen to know aa great deal about the industry).
When did we stop being allowed to debate issues, to be replaced by “father knows best”and instead are threatened when we try to have reasoned discussions.
Danielle impresses me from the perspective that she is willing to listen, to collaborate and to tap into the collective wisdom of Albertans. She recognizes that not all the smart people live under the Dome.
Redford’s choice of staff has always concerned me – this tweeting twit Amanda and before that Carter( who not only has tweeted some horrible things against the head of the AUMA ) but still owes the U of C a load of money (anybody see a conflict of interest here), Kelly chrlebois -the no report overpaid consultant. So her choice of whom she surrounds herself leaves many questions in my mind.
Bring on the fresh and the new! You also have to remember there is a beaurocracy who does go on year after year after year and actually probably “run” the govt. what we need is some people that can tell when the BS meter is being shoveled their way by these bears rats.

When are the members of the PC Party going to pay back the money they received for nothing. As former PC MLA Richard Mraz pointed out this week, it is not just backbenchers who got this money, cabinet ministers did as well. Also, has Charlesbois, Redford’s right hand man paid back the money he got for nothing or has that just been forgotten?

WR is clearly just a newer model of the PCs. They promise public consultations now, but I give them 4-6 months in office before the gloves come off, and they’re back to old PC tricks (with the big money issues, that is).

As for change, here is what it looks like — theirs, and progressives:

Theirs (re: Health care, “Mean and Meaner”) :http://changealberta.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/mean-and-meander-set-out-to-ruin-canadas-health-care-by-alvin-finkel/

And Progressive change : http://changealberta.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/an-alternative-future-for-alberta-by-phil-elder-5/

Maybe Redfraud should be asking Charlebois to return the cash for an untendered contract too. Its time for the friends of pc vote splitting experiment collapses tent and joins the Liberals. Anybody supporting peesee by vote, volunteer or donating suports corruption knowingly or unknowingly, based on the mountain of news that has been revealed about the peesee’s.

The theme of this post and recent others is that somehow both of the front running parties have been playing nasty and going negative. I really don’t see it myself. The Tories haven’t “officially” gone negative (the misguided unoffical twitter from some insignificant minion doesn’t count) and the only negative thing the WR stands accused of is Smith’s reaction to a Redford speech. We can argue the semantics, but I don’t consider a reaction to a fairly significant and highly publicized speech your opponent makes to constitute “going negative”.

To those who disagree, how would YOU have reacted to Redford’s speech in a way that focused on the money quote about changing the character of Albertans without appearing “negative”? Would you just have ignored Redford’s comments – which as Smith pointed out totally frame the philosophical differences between them – out of fear that any attempt to call Redford out on them would be characterized as “negative”? If your answer is “yes”, I recommend against running for public office.

As for the stupid tweet, all of you out there who are convinced social media have the power to change elections can start high fiving each other.

Rural Gal: My perception of Danielle Smith is that while she may be willing to listen to some Albertans, she is unwilling to listen to all of us. In particular she seems very closed off from any Albertans who think that:

– climate change is caused in part by humans and needs to be addressed sooner rather than later;
– health care should remain public, with a single system providing both the high-risk specialized services that private industry will never touch and the low-risk stuff (the target of the private sector) that makes the harder stuff possible to pay for;
– a compassionate social safety net is both an economic and moral imperative in Canada’s most prosperous province, and cannot be downloaded to faith groups and charitable endeavours as if we had rolled the clock back to the 1930s;
– municipal governments should be able to make decisions about their cities — over an airport, for example — without the threat of the province going over their heads (“father knows best” indeed);
– a democratic deficit exists in this province when rural votes are worth more than urban ones; and finally
– Alberta cannot continue on the road of non-renewable resource extraction forever, and talking about change is not the same as being “anti-Albertan.”

If you think any of those things, well, it doesn’t seem like the Wildrose Party speaks to (or listens to) you in any way, shape, form, or fashion.

Reasonable people disagree, however. Would love to hear others’ takes.

Do not know where facts are coming from- private health care? Did not see that in the WR platform. Downloading to faith groups and charities do not remember reading that one either, Think that building up a legacy in the Heritage Trust Fund is not allowing our children andgrandchildre n to participate in the resources- what do you call that? Seems to me that they are the only ones to have this in their platform. And the true legacy is our land and our biodiversity. Who is stewarding that, and has been for 150 years – I think they are called ranchers. It is the PC land bills that wil jeopardize that legacy of stewardship. And the rural vote worth more than urban. Have you looked at the electoral boundaries?
However, I do commend you for stating your views clearly. Thanks

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