Fresh back into the new year, it would be easy to assume that January would be a slow month for most of Alberta’s elected officials as they ease back into their regular 80 hour work week. If the first month of recent years are any indication, January has tendency of becoming one of the most tulmoltuoust political months of the year.
In January 2011, Alberta’s political establishment was rocked when Premier Ed Stelmach announces his plans to resign after his party’s political fortunes sagged in the polls and Finance Minister Ted Morton resigned over a dispute about the provincial budget. A week later, Liberal leader David Swann announced his resignation. The day before Premier Stelmach’s resignation, former Liberal MLA Dave Taylor became the first Alberta Party MLA.
In January 2010, backbench Tory MLAs Rob Anderson and Heather Forsyth crossed the floor to join the Wildrose Alliance, and were soon joined by a long-time Tory insider. The changes in political alllegences were followed by a smooth cabinet shuffle that moved the controversial bulldog Health Minister Ron Liepert with the sweet talking Gene Zwozdesky.
(And of course, in January 2008, an expected slow news week turned into a media firestorm for this political blogger.)
January 2010 kicked-off a year of political instability (as much as can be imagined in Alberta politics) and January 2011 kicked-off a year of returning to stability (with the replacement of Premier Stelmach with Premier Alison Redford). Will January 2012 kick-off a year of status-quo or big changes on Alberta’s political scene?
In an attempt to avoid the wrath of whatever from high atop the thing, I will not be as bold as other political watchers to predict the exact outcome of the next election. I will predict that the big political change of 2012 will come in the form of new names on the ballot rather than a new party in office. After forty years in office, the Progressives Conservatives have a tight grip on the biggest political stick in Alberta.
“Change from within” is what my Tory friends said when Premier Stelmach led them into the 2008 election and “change from within” is what they are saying as Premier Redford leads them in this year’s election.