Alberta Tories waiting for a Jim Prentice coronation

Jim Prentice: The Great Tory Hope
Jim Prentice: The Great Tory Hope

Could the snoozer that has become Alberta’s Progressive Conservative leadership race risk becoming a coronation if former federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice jumps into the race?

Necessitated by the resignation of Premier Alison Redford on March 19, the race to choose the next leader of Alberta’s 43-year long governing PC Party has so far drawn little interest from serious candidates and yawns from political watchers.

While other would-be contenders, like Labour Minister Thomas Lukaszuk and Justice Minister Jonathan Denis, are kicking-tires and positioning themselves for a run, the popular wisdom of the day suggests that Mr. Prentice would be an unstoppable front-runner. Even the sole candidate to have entered the contest so far, former Municipal Affairs minister Ken Hughes, has publicly suggested he would consider withdrawing his candidacy if Mr. Prentice runs. [see comment section below for clarification]

This popular wisdom is based on the assumption that he will actually be a candidate, which may not be a forgone conclusion.

Some Tories I have spoken with talk about Mr. Prentice as their only hope of stopping Danielle Smith‘s Wildrose Party in the next election. They talk about Mr. Prentice as the only person who can shake off the damaging baggage left after Ms. Redford’s tenure as PC leader. And they talk about the large amount of corporate money they expect he could attract to fill their party’s coffers.

Thomas Lukaszuk MLA Edmonton-Castle Downs
Thomas Lukaszuk

Mr. Prentice has already received the endorsement of Calgary cabinet minister Manmeet Bhullar and is said to be convening a team largely made up of  supporters of past PC Party leadership front-runners Jim Dinning and Gary Mar.

As an outsider, it appears the Tories risk being blinded by star power, as all these hopes and dreams are built on a complete lack of information about what Mr. Prentice would stand for as a party leader and premier.

Sure, Mr. Prentice has built a respectable career as a cabinet minister in Ottawa and as a senior executive of a major Canadian bank, but no one really knows what kind of Premier or Party leader he would be. Does he support Finance minister Doug Horner‘s plans to impose drastic changes on public sector pension plans? How would he approach the province’s choppy relationships with Alberta’s fast-growing cities? Where does he stand on public health care? Education curriculum? Agriculture? Public infrastructure? Climate change?

Jonathan Denis MLA Calgary Acadia
Jonathan Denis

Two years ago, many Albertans looked at Ms. Redford’s resume and assumed that she hailed from the Lougheedian progressive side of the her party. Many of those same Albertans were bitterly disappointed when she forced deep funding cuts on universities and colleges, and attacked the public sector workers whose votes saved her party from defeat on election day in 2012.

A coronation would also present a missed opportunity for the PC Party to reconnect with its supporters and discover who its base of support is in 2014. This would be important because it is not entirely clear what the PC Party stands for today and is very unclear what it will stand for after their new leader is selected in September.

Provincial By-Elections?
With Ms. Redford appearing uninterested in continuing her duties as the MLA for Calgary-Elbow, it is possible that a by-election could be held to provide an opportunity for a new party leader who is not an MLA to earn a seat in the Assembly. This would be the second by-election in that riding in eight years. Liberal Craig Cheffins won the seat in the by-election held to replace retired Premier Ralph Klein in 2007.

Other opportunities for by-elections may open up if the three MLAs seeking federal party nominations – Calgary-McCall MLA Darshan Kang, Calgary-Foothills MLA Len Webber, and Edmonton-McClung MLA David Xiao – decide to resign their seats in advance of the next federal election.

15 thoughts on “Alberta Tories waiting for a Jim Prentice coronation”

  1. Hardly an outsider – with a “team largely made up of supporters of past PC Party leadership front-runners Jim Dinning and Gary Mar.”? And his strong connections to all that corporate & industry money the PCs want & need? Prentice is a star graduate of the PC regime, and even he will not be able to do anything to get rid of the corruption in that dynasty.

  2. Save your time and money Mr. Prentice. Politicos may like you, but to the general public, you’re just another smarmy, slimey PC in a $3,000 suit. From what I hear, you have a good thing going in Toronto. But you know what they say; a fool and his money…

  3. Jerry is right. He sucked as Environment Minister and realized he went as far as he’ll go in Harper’s government.
    Now he’s got possibly a seven figure job and opportunities to finish his career as CEO of CIBC?
    Why would he tromp back to Alberta to mop up the PC party?

  4. Correction: Regarding the strikethrough sentence in this post, I received this email from PC leadership candidate Ken Hughes this morning:

    Hi Dave;

    I just read your blog and respectfully request that you correct a material factual error.

    I have never “….publicly suggested he would consider withdrawing his candidacy…” as you have suggested.

    There is no circumstance I can envisage today which would cause me to withdraw my candidacy prior to the final vote, Saturday, September 20.

    What I have said publicly is that I really welcome all candidates to the race.

    Albertans deserve a choice. Any candidate who aspires to lead this great province should actually expect to have to earn that responsibility.

    Could you kindly correct your statement and note my clarification as promptly as possible?

    Please feel free to check facts with me any time should you wish or need to do so.

    Best wishes,
    Ken Hughes

  5. You know a political party is in deep trouble when they start looking for a “saviour” instead of a “leader”.

    The PCAA would be well advised to consider the example of the federal Liberals, who went from Chretien to Martin to Dion to Ignatieff in search of a saviour.

  6. Ken Hughes has zero chance of doing anything other than an orderly capitulation to the rebranded and further right Social Credit Progressive Conservative Wild Rose Party. I’m sure he’s will do fine arranging for the moving company. Prentice on the other hand would be a far better choice for all the rosers and cons. He’d take it in a walk if he came on board and canned Lukaszuk.

  7. Prentice is fully aware of the Kurruption in the Tory Party. He is a rising star making a good salary where he is and maybe PM one day. Why the heck would he want to be potentially the last PC leader and tarnish his brand in the process? Either he would be against this entitled culture or does not really care how bad it is.

  8. Jeez! I really thought Prentice was smarter than volunteering to drive this car-load of sorry clowns!

  9. The oracles at the Calgary Herald are telling us that a Prentice candidacy is coming soon. How much do you think he’s going to beat Ken Hughes by? Paul Martin level coronation? I read it here first, Dave.

  10. I hope Lukaszuk runs on his record in labour and education. He has so much to contribute to the PC government.

  11. Mr.Levinson, others, looks like the Pig has a new lipstick. Its still a pig under neath. It also appears all of those comments about Prentice volunteering to drive a boat load of stupid corrupt drunk clowns and cowboys is also true. The question is will Jim continue to make this the most secretive and financially inept regime on earth or will he fundamentally bring some honesty, ethics, morality and above all, responsible accountable and answerable governance. I am not going to hold my breath, I think this will be a new lipstick on a pig. I don’t believe he can in even the slightest way change a thing. The same garbage will continue, they found a new dupe.

  12. Comparing Prentice to Obama in the graphic is laughable. Prentice actually has accomplishments, unlike the worst President of the last 50+ years who is currently in office, doing nothing.

  13. Hans..sorry, sorry Obama can’t change his color. Too many tea partyers and corporate neo cons could give a rats ass on the huge financial deficit created on the middle class through continued poverty and lack luster healthcare. Obama did not wreck the economy, if you have any attention span, it was the Republicans who have pork barreling their friends in the DOD with lavish defence contracts and expensive military operations all over the world. Poverty and illiteracy is the largest financial drain on this world. Rich conservatives wine like babies when they might have to wait another year to buy that 5th home in Palm Springs, another six months for that Merc, or they might have to take one less expensive vacation from the six they take every 2 months. Obama did not create the financial situation that necessitated the trillions of borrowing….Obama was told point blank what he had to do to stop a tail spin of the world economy. This whole bubble was setup during the Conservative era by Republicans when they lobbied hard to deregulate the derivatives market.

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