The masses have spoken and after 1628 total votes from this blog’s readers, the top political moments of Alberta’s past decade have been chosen. After being chosen from the final group of ten, these three moments made it to the top of the list:
3) 2001: Premier Ralph Klein‘s visit to the Herb Jamieson Centre in Edmonton. Long-known for his enjoyment of alcoholic beverages, Premier Klein’s late night visit that night changed how many Albertans viewed the Premier’s vice. Shelter residents claimed after Premier Klein and his chauffeur stopped in front of the Men’s shelter, the Premier began slurring, swearing, and yelling at the men to get jobs. Witnesses told reporters that Premier Klein then threw money at them. In a statement released soon afterward Premier Klein publicly apologized and declared that he would quit drinking.
2) 2004: Premier Ralph Klein declaring Alberta fiscally debt free, making our province the first debt-free province in a decade would have been my choice for the most important political moment of the decade in Alberta politics. When Premier Klein stood up at his Calgary Stampede breakfast and declared Alberta to be debt free, a major political narrative came to an end this province.
Aiming to defeat the deficit and debt saved the PCs from being unseated by the Liberals in the 1993 election after Laurence Decore used his infamous debt clock to highlight the growing debt and fiscal meanderings of Premier Don Getty‘s administration. This defining narrative changed the landscape of Alberta politics, contributing to the decimation of the NDP in 1993 and the marginalization of the post-Decore Liberal Party. It was the defining theme in Alberta politics in the 1990s and early 2000s. Since Alberta was declared debt free, the PCs now led by Premier Ed Stelmach have struggled to create a compelling narrative for being in government.
If I were to wager, in 30 to 40 years, this moment will be front and centre in Alberta’s history textbooks. As the Chief of Staff to the President of Daveberta wrote in an earlier post, “the language of our elections and our politics is shaped around deficits and spending in a way that isn’t present in other politics.”
1) 2008: While too early to estimate in my opinion, democracy and the readers of this blog have chosen Linda Duncan‘s election victory in Edmonton-Strathcona as Alberta’s top political moment of the decade.
After placing a commanding second in the 2006 election, Duncan challenged the Conservative Party hegemony in Alberta by unseating backbench Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer and becoming the second-ever NDP MP from Alberta in 2008. Duncan’s campaign had momentum from the moment the writ was dropped and drew significant volunteer support from across Edmonton and across party-lines. Duncan also became the first non-PC/Reform/Alliance/Conservative MP to represent Edmonton-Strathcona since Liberal MP Hu Harries was elected in 1968 and the first non-Conservative MP elected in Alberta since 2004.
Since becoming the Federal NDP environment critic in the House of Commons, Duncan has brought a very unique voice to federal politics in Alberta as a vocal critic of current environmental practices in Alberta’s oil sands, a proponent of National Hockey Day, a member of the Canadian delegation at the COP15 Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, and as the only Alberta MP to vote against abolishing Canada’s federal gun registry. The lawyer and former Chief of Enforcement for Environment Canada recently released a new book (which is sure to be a Christmas hit) “A Legal Guide to Aboriginal Drinking Water: A Prairie Perspective.” The video below was filmed during Duncan’s 2008 election campaign: