Just as Michael Ignatieff did last week, on Friday Alberta PC leadership candidate Mark Norris had the opportunity to meet me. It was an interesting encounter at Hudson’s near the U of A Campus. Mark Norris was having a very well attended hockey night at the bar, which I unintentionally stumbled upon.
For those of you not familiar with Mark Norris’ political history, here’s the skinny. In 1992, Norris was a key top-player in Ralph Klein’s Alberta PC leadership campaign against then-Nancy Betkowski. Nine years later in 2001, Norris ran against and defeated then-Alberta Liberal leader Nancy MacBeth (formerly Betkowski) in Edmonton McClung.
From 2001 to 2004, Mark Norris was Alberta’s Economic Development Minister, a position in which he grew a substantially noticeable ego. In 2004, Norris’ team ran a slow and lackluster re-election campaign in Edmonton McClung. Norris was defeated by Liberal Mo Elsalhy. Now, with no seat in Alberta’s Legislative Assembly, he’s running to be leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives.
So, now my thoughts… Norris is a campaigner. No doubt. He’s homey and he’s doing a decent job in trying to mirror Ralph Klein’s campaign style and mannerisms and he’s fairly good at it. I actually had a decent five minute chat with him and I surprisingly didn’t disagree with all of what he had to say.
Now to one of the more interesting parts of the evening (other than the giant Hummer with Mark Norris’ face on the side). When I first approached Norris, I overheard a nice conversation he was having with what appeared to be some large members of Edmonton’s Polish community (or the “Polish mafia” as they referred to themselves). There was a lot of talk about Dinning’s apparent support within “the Polish mafia,” “Church blah blah blah” and “who’s gonna take out Lukaszuk?”
It may just be me, but I don’t think they were talking about taking Lukaszuk out to Dairy Queen…