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Alberta Politics

tick tick tick… defusing ed stelmach’s tory time-bomb.

Tick Tick Tick...
Tick Tick Tick...

Restoring $107 million into the provincial Education budget, committing to hold an inquiry into the intimidation of doctors, promising increased consultations on water management, and halting (after some fumbling) the approval of two controversial electrical transmission line projects through rural Alberta, Premier Alison Redford is quickly moving to defuse the electoral time bomb of unpopular decisions made by her predecessor, Ed Stelmach.

Premier Redford’s first moves appear to be geared towards taking away the most controversial issues that the opposition parties have gained traction on in the last year’s of Stelmach’s premiership.

A recently released Angus Reid online survey (to be taken with a grain of salt, of course) conducted between October 17 to October 19, 2011, revealed an interesting snapshot and positive news for Premier Redford:

– Voting Intention: Progressive Conservatives 44%, Wildrose Party 22%, Liberals 16%, New Democrats 13%, Alberta Party 2%
– Best Premier: Alison Redford 32%, Danielle Smith 15%, Raj Sherman 8%, Brian Mason 6%, Glenn Taylor 1%

The online survey shows Premier Redford with a 55% approval rating, twenty-points higher than her closest opponent, Wildrose Party leader Ms. Smith. The three main opposition leaders, including Ms. Smith, registered higher leadership disapproval ratings than approval ratings among those surveyed.

The online survey shows the Tories leading in support across the province, with the Wildrose placing second in Calgary and rural Alberta, and the Liberals essentially tied with the NDP for second in Edmonton. The Alberta Party barely registers in the online survey, showing only 2% support province-wide and 4% in Calgary.

The online survey also suggested that the selection of Dr. Sherman as their leader has not cured the Liberal Party of their electoral ills. Of those surveyed who identified themselves as having voted Liberal in 2008, when that party was led by Edmonton-Riverview MLA Kevin Taft, only 56% said that they would vote Liberal if an election were held tomorrow.

Redford may be besting Ms. Smith in the world of online surveys, but that does not mean the Wildrose has been plucked. At a fundraiser in Calgary, Ms. Smith attracted an audience of more than 1,100 people, leaving some politicos to suspect the Wildrose raised more than $400,000 in one night (more than any of the other opposition parties could dream of). Despite numerous bumps in their nomination process, the Wildrose Party is continuing to nominate candidates across the province with now close to 60 of 87 on the ground.

Even the NDP, who have showed up perpetually in third place over the past two decades, are looking better prepared for an election than they have in recent memory and will soon have just as many candidates nominated as the Wildrose.

Of course, even a week is an eternity in politics, and with an election expected sometime early in 2012 there is much that can change. Polls and surveys provide useful snapshots, but campaigns matter.

10 replies on “tick tick tick… defusing ed stelmach’s tory time-bomb.”

So even though Tories are polling high, and this is just one poll, there is no indication there will be a sudden fall election.

The government seems to focused on honouring the promises that Alison Redford made in her campaign for the leadership.

She has also said publicly that she expects an election in April or May.

Lots of time to defuse the bomb but she is moving quickly . . . .

Still am wondering where the money is coming from for the education funding and the judicial inquiry which will be very costly.
As for the power line issue, this reeks of government meddling in the business of what is supposedly an Arms Length agency…which should concern the public whether they agreed with the power lines or not.
The public can have no confidence in quaisi judicial decisions if the government is going to play big brother .

This idea that the Herald/Journal have been peddling that this poll shows momentum for the PCs is dubious.

Leadership approval ratings are important, but it’s the horserace numbers that count. And the PCs are down a notch, with the Wildrose up a bit, since Redford was elected. On the weekend of the leadership second ballot, the PCs scored 48% in a poll, with the Wildrose at 16%. Now the Wildrose is starting what could be something of a comeback.

And as for your list of ‘defusing’ measures the PCs are taking, I see the following as pouring gas on the fire:

** Redford appointed a Chief of Staff who walked away from $600,000 in business debts, including big debts to public institutions like the University of Calgary.

** She picked a cabinet with Ron Leipert as Finance Minister, Tom Lukasiuk as Education Minister, and Ted Morton as Energy Minister – three of the most Conservative, old boy characters from the Stelmach days. The new cabinet of 20 includes only two women (other than Redford) four fewer than Stelmach’s last group.

** After trashing Gary Mar in the PC Leadership race, and promising big changes, she appointed Mar to a cushy $257,000/year newly created job as some kind of Alberta ambassador to ‘Asia’.

** It’s been revealed that the government relies on homeless shelters to house some of it’s foster children, rather than work to create proper settings for them. The shelter they use frequently turns kids away due to space, meaning homeless youth in the government’s care are sleeping on the streets. The PCs defended this practice.

** Redford refused to lift a finger when it was revealed that an oil sands company had fired 200 union workers, replacing them with cheaper, temporary foreign workers.

** CBC revealed that the PCs are accepting political donations from Municipal governments. One local PC Treasurer, who is also the Town Manager of St. Paul, Alberta – sent emails to all municipal employees urging them to join the PC party to support the local MLA. The Local MLA signed up more members in the PC Leadership race than any other riding, and on the final ballot he supported, you guessed it, Alison Redford. No consequences to any Conservative, and the funds have not even been returned.

** After promising fixed election dates during the PC Leadership race, Redford has refused to commit to set dates before the next election.

** The Tories cancelled the fall session, brought it back, and then announced it will only sit for two days, take a month off, and sit for another 7-8 days before calling it a year.

** Attempting to diffuse the power line fiasco by cancelling three projects, then reversing themselves by allowing the biggest of the three (which goes nowhere without the other two) to proceed.

These guys are operate on the same track as they did under Stelmach, only without the finesse.

There is a myth that the judicial inquiry will be expensive. When most of the people who have been intimidated by the same few people can finger point them out, it will be much easier than previously believed to steam ahead on a judicial inquiry and with rapid speed. Its much easier than most of the establishment hacks would have us believe. If money is such an issue, why are they charging such low royalties?

I won’t vote for Redford if she cancels Bill 50 and Bill 44. Both of these are necessary for Alberta to prosper now and in the future.

Great recap by Art as to all the blunders, miscues, and mistakes that have happened in the short time since Redford became Premier. Well done Art!

The 100 million for education is such a small amount in a 35 Billion dollar budget that it is a total waste of time to worry about where they will find the money. They can find it in the cushions of the budget sofa.

Good analysis, Dave. I too would not put too much faith in Ms. Redford’s high personal approval rating just now because she just got the job. People have had much longer to look at Danielle Smith, and even longer to look at, say, Brian Mason. The question that matters is what her approval rating will be in two or three months’ time when Albertans have had an opportunity to get to know her.

The thing that concerns me most of all is that all these decisions are being made completely without any legislative (read: democratic) process. Yes, dictatorships are very efficient and things get done, but last I checked, we didn’t live in one. I actually agree with most of Premier Redford’s decisions, but that’s irrelevant, really. I believe the HOW is just as important as the WHAT.

Once a person has a taste of that kind of power, where every wave of the wand produces profound change, why would you ever want to go back to slow, painful, public deliberation?

I know the Premier feels she has the mandate because she won the leadership race, but most Albertans didn’t actually vote for her as Premier. Her mandate for this kind of authoritarian, closed door decision-making is slim, at best, and returning to open legislative debate would show more respect for Albertans, IMHO.

It might also prevent some of the back-and-forward, on-again-off-again decisions. Right now, it feels a bit like someone is trying to gobble through the candy bag as quickly as possible before the curtain goes up at the theatre. It’s bound to create some sore tummies!

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