"This is not an exercise in democracy, even though it mimics the process"

Graham Thomson hit it right on the mark.

Leadership candidate Gary McPherson has said those organizing the race couldn’t run a two-car funeral procession. It’s more than a little disconcerting to think they’re in charge of the process to choose our next premier.

Understandably, there were plenty of upset Tories waiting in line on Monday. But none were angrier than those back at the headquarters of the various leadership campaigns who smelled a rat.

They blamed the Lyle Oberg campaign for using the advance poll as a sneaky way of busing in hundreds of supporters to the convenient downtown location rather than having them make their own way to the regular polls scattered throughout the city on Saturday. Those who voted in the advance poll had to sign a statement declaring they couldn’t make it to the Saturday poll.

The other campaigns muttered darkly about Oberg abusing the rules.

Rules? What rules? When it comes to rules, the Tory leadership race is the Wild West without the sheriff. There are almost no rules and even less policing.

What Oberg did was simply get out his vote — and that’s what this race is all about: selling memberships and getting those members out to cast a ballot. Oberg, dismissed on more than one occasion by critics and pundits, is once again proving himself more resilient than Methuselah.

There are other complaints popping up about dastardly deeds in the desperate last days of the race. Various leadership camps are muttering about how other campaigns are buying up $5 membership cards and giving them away free to people, whether those people asked for them or not.

However, there’s no rule against buying memberships and giving them away.

If Tories are upset by too few rules or no enforcement of those rules they have no-one to blame but their own party. This is a Tory-run, internally-organized party affair.

This is not a general election. This is not an exercise in democracy, even though it mimics the process.

Aliens from Mars or from Tory party headquarters might argue it’s democracy. After all, it is a one-person, one-vote system where the ballots are cast in polling stations and then counted to determine the winning candidate. This race also has all-candidate forums and campaign buttons and plenty of media coverage.

But this is not democracy in action.

If it is democracy, it’s the type practiced in the old Soviet Union where people were allowed to vote but all the candidates came from the Communist Party.

In this Tory leadership-race version of democracy, the only candidates are Conservatives.

Let the Tories have their vote.

Then let Albertans as a whole pass judgement on the Tories’ choice — in the next general election, when we exercise our democratic right.

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