Alberta Politics

premier alison redford’s challenge to change her party and alberta’s government.

Alberta Premier-Designate Alison Redford at an all-candidates forum in Vermilon on July 21, 2011.
Alberta Premier-Designate Alison Redford at an all-candidates forum in Vermilon on July 21, 2011.

Alberta politics became a little more exciting in the early hours of Sunday, October 2, 2011 when the sharp-minded former Justice Minister and human rights lawyer Alison Redford defied critics, but not readers of this blog, by defeating front-runner Gary Mar in the PC leadership contest. Ms. Redford will become Alberta’s first woman Premier when she is sworn-in to her new office in the coming days. She also rides into victory carrying a banner that promises change to her party members and Albertans.

One of her first challenges will be to build a new provincial cabinet.

Without many endorsements from her fellow MLAs, Ms. Redford may have more freedom to pick and choose the members of the next cabinet. Her win was a strike against the PC Party establishment that lined up behind Mr. Mar, so it will not be surprising to see a significant cabinet shuffle after she officially enters her office.

It is too early to know who will be in cabinet for sure, but there are a number of political indicators that we can use to speculate. Former Deputy Premier Doug Horner, who placed third in the leadership contest and whose supporters helped push Ms. Redford over the top on the run-off vote will likely grab a key cabinet spot. Remaining in cabinet because of their political strength on the ground (as proved by the total number of memberships sold in their constituencies) should be Lac La Biche-St. Paul MLA Ray Danyluk and Edmonton-Whitemud MLA Dave Hancock.

Uncertain futures lie ahead for former Finance Minister Ted Morton and Battle River-Wainwright MLA Doug Griffiths, who both endorsed Mr. Mar after they were eliminated from the first ballot vote on September 17, 2011. It should be noted that both their campaign managers endorsed Ms. Redford, as did voters in their constituencies in the October 1, 2011 vote.

To reinforce the message of change that Ms. Redford reminded PC Party members of in her victory speech, she will need to clean out some of the dead wood in the current provincial cabinet. This will mean smaller offices and salary cuts for some cabinet ministers, including loyalists of outgoing Premier Ed Stelmach.

Also significant to watch along with a new cabinet team will be the appointment and shuffling of Deputy Ministers. These top public servants are the professionals who can spell the key to success or failure for a new cabinet minister and can also signal the direction in which a government wishes to drive an agenda.

Ms. Redford ran a policy heavy campaign, of which two of the main issues were education and health care. She announced the restoration of funding to rehire the thousand teachers who were laid off only months ago. The campaign also highlighted her support for the public health care system in order to differentiate her from front-runner Mr. Mar, who came out strongly in support of privatized healthcare earlier in the campaign. Alberta may be fertile ground for conservative political movements, but the results of the PC leadership contest reinforces the position that those same conservative party members also support a strong public health care system.

Like her opponent, Mr. Mar, she has committed to represent the Government of Alberta at congressional hearings being held in Washington D.C. about the controversial Keystone XL pipeline on October 7, 2011. Increased international attention on the oilsands and our province’s environmental record has created a new challenge that the previous government struggled to handle. It will be interesting to watch what kind of approach Ms. Redford’s government will take to defending Alberta’s record in natural resource extraction.

Ms. Redford’s selection as Premier has already made Alberta politics more exciting and unpredictable. Opposition leaders Danielle Smith, Raj Sherman, Brian Mason, and Glenn Taylor will not be given a chance to challenge Ms. Reford during a Fall session of the Assembly, which will be delayed while the new Premier legitimately prepares a Legislative agenda for 2012. They will have to take to the airwaves, newspapers, and twittersphere with their criticisms.

With a provincial general election expected next year, Ms. Redford will have less than a year to prove that she can walk the talk when it comes to changing attitudes and politics within her forty-year governing Progressive Conservative Party. It is going to be interesting to watch!

17 replies on “premier alison redford’s challenge to change her party and alberta’s government.”

Hopefully Ms Redford realizes the strength of some of the excellent Ministers already in Cabinet. As for being loyal to Ed Stelmach, one would expect any Minister to be loyal to the leader at the time . For instance: Jack Hayden is one of the best Agriculture Ministers this Province has had in years, putting someone else in that role would be to the detriment of the agriculture industry in this province. Ms. Redford needs to think long and hard about the impact of changes in cabinet before she sweeps the place clean. She has some very bright lights waiting in the wings such as DV/Calmar’s Diana McQueen who would do a stellar job in any one of numerous ministries.

Can we all have a little moment for how accurately the polls on this blog have predicted everything lately?

It’s crazy. Polls I would like to see now are when the next election will take place, though that seems clearer now, and whether both the Flames and/or the Oilers will make the playoffs this year.

The oracle of Daveberta knows all.

I’ve found the wane of Ted Morton’s influence absolutely fascinating. The narrative we all heard was that Morton threatened a caucus revolt and pushed Stelmach out. But the only caucus support in his leadership run was from the likes of Carl Benito and Moe Amery, not exactly power players.

He fared poorly on the first ballot, didn’t even get on the second ballot, and couldn’t deliver his own constituency to Mar.

So is the theory that Morton pushed Stelmach out overstated?

If Premier Redford wishes to pursue her laudable progressive goals she will have to look at the wisdom of raw bitumen shipped to the USA for refining . She will have to revisit the flat tax rate on provincial income and also insure royalties to the public purse adequately reflect the true value of non renewable resources.
A while back Premier Stelmach took back a small liquor tax increase. That tax alone would cover the money reduced from the education budget.
Progressive moves on medicare, public health care, seniors housing, and education are good and should be supported by a fair taxation system. There is enough wealth in this province, particularly if it is spent wisely and not on patronage binges and corporate give aways.

Great. A red tory now held hostage by public sector unions for whom she dropped her principles to bribe with our money.

I have had it with crooked politicians.

You bet your bottom dollar that she’s held hostage by public sector unions. Gone are the days when a premier was sensible and decent. (As in held hostage by Horse Racing Alberta, Suncor, Syncrude, Multi-corp, fans of crass behaviour, pals with private health clinics, and of course other pals who stood to benefit from privatizing half of the province.)


Wow. The horror of someone in power in Alberta with a slightly different ideology than you.

Dry those tears, little one.

How could Danielle Smith and Glenn Taylor challenge Redford during the fall session of the Assembly? Did they both win by-elections while no-one was looking?

For both of them, taking their criticisms to the airwaves, newspapers, and twittersphere is all they’d have been able to do, anyway — fall sitting or not.

Justin: Thanks. Readers of this blog are now 2 for 2 when it comes to predicting leadership race outcomes.

Arcy: Thanks for the comment. I was referring to the opportunity that a fall sitting would provide them to criticise the Tories. Even if they are not yet MLAs, their parties have MLAs in the Assembly.

With Mr. Mar jobless, perhaps the PM could appoint him Ambassador to Portugal, Bryce Mackasey’s old post. What was it Mulroney once said of Mackasey?

And after Mar fan Dave Hancock’s Oct. 1 antics, maybe DH should be dropped from cabinet and made “Official Greeter” on the front steps of the Leg.

I’m not sure how Danielle Smith could be considered the loser from this election. I think the outcome of the leadership race is one that Wildrose will be able to capitalize on quite easily. The pressure on the Tories isn’t coming from the Left but from the Right. So what does Reford say will be her first act? To increase spending. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Wildrose popularity numbers started to trend upwards again.

Didn’t your poll also nail the exact order of PCs on the first ballot, and exact order of Lib race? And come weirdly close on the percentages?

Funny, I remember Danielle Smith condeming the government for cuts to education. Now it is the WAP policy that those cuts should remain? The double speak of Danielle Smith is already starting to wear on Albertans.
“No matter what you do it is wrong. And it is because you are a PC” – Danielle Smith, on every issue for the past 2 years.

“I don’t support it, so I guess we’ll have that discussion. But even if that’s what is decided, I still won’t support it,” Ron Liepert, a former health minister (said talking about a judicial inquiry into health care).

Yes, Ron, guess you’ve figured you’re out of cabinet! And with those comments, it could be awhile till you return, unless you pursue a coup against Redford.

This episode of Warriors, battles in the family, brought to you by ………..

You answer that one.

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