Tag Archives: Jen Gerson

Doug Griffiths leads unconvincing charge against *scary* Wildrose robocalls.

Wildrose Alberta Robocall

Are the Wildrose robocalls really that scary?

Swinging at the chance to bloody their opposition, Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives are trying to make a connection in Albertans minds between automated robocalls made on behalf of the Wildrose Party and controversial robocalls made by Conservative Party organizers in Ontario.

It’s a stretch.

Last week the Wildrose Party was fined $90,000 by the Canadian Radio Telecommunications Commission for breaking regulatory rules around automated robocalls made during last year’s provincial election. According to the CRTC, the Wildrose Party failed properly identifying themselves when the robocalls were made (they were push-polls).

Doug Griffiths

Doug Griffiths

Unlike the controversial robocalls from Ontario, there is no indication that the Wildrose robocalls were intended to suppress or misdirect voters from their polling stations.

This difference does not seem to matter to Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths, who has led his party’s charge, calling on Elections Alberta to investigate the Wildrose robocalls. So far, Danielle Smith‘s Wildrose Party has admitted to making the calls, paid the fine in its entirety, and has released the script of the robocall in question.

As the National Post’s Jen Gerson wrote, “[o]ne can hardly fault Alberta’s besieged Progressive Conservatives for trying to squeeze the ruling  for all it’s worth.” After three years of being harassed from scandal to scandal by the Wildrose, the Tories see an opportunity to strike-back against their relentlessly aggressive opponents. And this is becoming a trend.

This new offensive strategy appears to have started with Premier Redford’s unfortunately hyper-partisan speech to a group of school children at a government press conference last month.

Manmeet Bhullar

Manmeet Bhullar

Online, ministerial press secretaries have become partisan mini-celebrities by spending their days locked in heated political arguments with Wildrose Caucus staffers on Twitter. Long-gone are the days when ministerial spokespeople at least pretended to be non-partisan.

Last week, Service Alberta Minister Manmeet Bhullar accused the Wildrose of bigotry for failing to promptly remove racist comments from their Facebook Page (a Wildrose staffer was quick to point out racist comments that had not been removed from Premier Alison Redford‘s Facebook Page). Minister Bhullar’s accusation sends a message to moderate voters, who might be unhappy with the PC Party’s deep funding cuts to post-secondary education and cuts to support for persons with developmental disabilities, that their only alternative is still scary.

The robocall accusations against the Wildrose remain thin, even the Tories use robocalls – because it is an effective campaign tool. But this is payback and we should not expect the Tories to be nice about it.

sparks will fly as party leaders take off their gloves at tonight’s “make or break” televised debate.

Alberta-Election-Leaders-Debate-2012

The televised leaders' debate starts tonight at 6:30pm.

Tonight’s hotly anticipated televised Leaders’ Debate will be the first time that the four main party leaders have debated each other in this format. All eyes will be on Progressive Conservative Premier Alison Redford and Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith, but do not count out veteran NDP leader Brian Mason or Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman, who is the wild-card in tonight’s debate.

Whether tonight’s debate will have an impact on how Albertans vote on April 23 is yet to be seen. Its relevance will entirely depend on the leaders’ performances and abilities to deliver a message that connects with Albertans.

The talented Jen Gerson, now with the National Post, has prepared a drinking game for the evening.

Alberta Party leader Glenn Taylor was not invited to join the debate and he will be live-blogging his responses to debate questions on his party’s website.

I will be live-chatting about the debate on Global Edmonton’s website with Calgary’s Joey Oberhoffner and Lethbridge’s Jeff Henry. I will also be talking about the election on CityTV’s Breakfast Television at 7:10am tomorrow.

If you are looking for a place to debate, the Edmonton-Calder NDP are hosting a debate party at candidate David Eggen‘s campaign office and the non-partisan folks behind Alberta Votes Matter will be watching the debate at Edmonton’s Suede Lounge.