Alberta Politics

danielle smith is ‘out-ralphing’ alison redford.

Ralph Bucks, Danielle Dollars Alberta Election Wildrose
Recycled 'Ralph Bucks' could become 'Danielle Dollars'.

Eight years after the last round of provincial rebate cheques, popularly known as ‘Ralph Bucks‘, were mailed to Albertans care of Premier Ralph Klein, Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith is proposing a similar ‘energy dividend.’

While ‘Ralph Bucks‘ were popular among most Albertans at the time, it was recognized almost universally as bad fiscal policy.

Nice gesture, wrong message: Klein’s ‘prosperity bonuses’ a short-term, feel-good effort – Calgary Herald, Sept. 14, 2005.  Editorial

How often does one hear of lottery winners wasting their lifetime opportunity, and returning to the poverty whence they came.

Let this not be the case for Alberta. The insouciance of Premier Ralph Klein’s “prosperity bonuses” announcement bears the hallmarks of a prodigal’s progress, and a poorly messaged one, too. Had he meant to tell the rest of Canada that Alberta had no idea what to do with all its money, he would have done no different.

Perhaps showing just how much the Progressive Conservative campaign has lost control of their agenda, Ms. Smith is now trying to ‘out-Ralph‘  Premier Alison Redford. Ms. Smith practices a harder-edged brand of conservatism than the wishy-washy beer parlour conservatism of Premier Klein, but her party’s attention-grabbing election promises are grabbing the attention of conservative voters (while political watchers are questioning her math).

It must be difficult for Premier Redford, who, as the brightest and most intelligent leader of the PC Party since Peter Lougheed, has inherited a party that has been divided by two bitter leadership contests in less than a decade.

In a recent interview with the Globe & Mail, Mr. Lougheed, highlighting the deep divisions among PC elder statesmen, did not speak highly of Mr. Klein,

“Mr. Klein came along and he reverted the party backward to what I call the old Social Credit days, when Alberta was the whole focus and it wasn’t a cross-Canada focus.”

Premiers Lougheed and Klein embodied two very different visions of government within the same governing party, one which generally saw government as a positive force and another that saw government as a negative force. In the past, these differences could have been touted as an example of the resiliency of Alberta’s big blue Tory Party.

What does it all mean?

It is difficult to pinpoint what effect these high-level party posturing is having on the ground. Speaking with campaign managers and candidates from a number of parties across the province over the past week, I am consistently hearing that there is a feeling of unease at the doors. In some cases, this is leading to unlikely swings in party support.

One long-time NDP supporter from northeast Edmonton told me that some of her traditionally NDP-voting neighbours have planted Wildrose Party signs on their front-lawns. Two long-time Liberal voters from north west Calgary told me that they were planning on supporting their local PC candidate, because they admired Premier Redford.

What is indisputable is that many Albertans are unhappy with the PC’s and, at least for the moment, the Wildrose Party and its slate of untested candidates are turning that unhappiness into electoral momentum.

26 replies on “danielle smith is ‘out-ralphing’ alison redford.”

I don’t think this proposal should be nearly as villified as it has been. Other oil producing regions have offered similar payouts for years (the state of Alaska comes to mind) and the Wild Rose proposal, which is only 1/5th of any future surpluses, seems quite reasonable.

Looking further abroad, oil producing regions still offer the locals a raft of benefits that we here in Alberta don’t enjoy. Venezuela offers vehicle fuel at close to a $1 a tank! Obviously that’s not a reasonable policy for a modern government, but offering up a portion of government surpluses to all of those citizens who helped generate said surplus seems entirely reasonable to me.

I think it completely reasonable to vilify this so called proposal. It is a based on a very unlikely event in the future (the criteria value that the WR sets for the Heritage fund). Basically, you have to believe the underlying event will happen. I can believe in magic ponies, but I don’t think many will go along. I’m surprised so many in the media, and commenters, want to believe in magic ponies.

“Such a smart move” after Ralphy the Red did his phoney money give away every hutterite colony in Alberta bought out another neighbor farmer, just what small towns in Alberta need, is more cultists buying nothing local, sending no children to their schools, no children to their rinks etc. Go for it Danny, you can spew anything you want, when you don’t control the Johnson bar of power, this idea is pathetic, this isn’t a game show, this is the greatest province in Canada because of sound management mostly. Ed and Ralph both had bouts of insanity albeit, but overall the population of Alberta over the last 40 years says it all. The very reason we NEED more power lines you loath, Albertans use a lot of power, we are powering the nation, and adults need to point that out to you. Your free ride from the media, the same media that gave us Y2K acid rain ice age globall warming etc, is getting a little hard to take, and very transparent.

Returning to the Ralph Klein era? Closing schools, laying off nurses, refusing to fix crumbling infrastructure? Sounds like a Wildrose Alliance Government to me!

Better to have a mechanism of incentives – success at getting debt down, Heritage Fund up and then getting bonus
Better than throwing money into new”clinics” – about the same as Danny bucks- when money unbudgeted and pilot projects ( which test to see if something works ) are barely up and running, and outcomes not even reviewed. But that is only $700 million. And the $181 million unbudgeted to the docs.
Yup give me WR reasoning.
Both are using the political candy – but at least WR throws it only after supper, PC throws it before supper when the cupboard is bare

Sorry vote watcher – you were posting at same time as me
Where does it say closing schools, crumbling infrastructure, laying off nurses. Sorry not in WR platform- those are the PC war room talking points

It’s good short-term politics, bad long-term policy. Not only should the government put every dollar of any surplus into the HTF, it should also allocate a percentage of all royalty revenues to the HTF – right off the top. We need to start building it up so that the interest earned can be used to replace oil and gas royalties which will decrease over time. While we still have huge non-conventional oil resources, we are running out of conventional oil that is cheap to produce, as most of those are coming from what are considered mature fields. The higher the cost of producing oil and gas the higher the price of oil will have to be to make production economically feasible.

This just shows how Danielle Smith and her muzzled group of candidates aren’t ready to govern. This is a terrible idea – and so is voting Wildrose. With this leader, anything but!

Could not let bartinsky power comment go
Did you know that before a court, Keith Wilson on behalf of the Landowwner, was given leave to appeal the Heartland power lines ( those are the ones to Ft Saskatchewan that Redford said was absolutely necessary – she put the north south lines on hold for study – but has given 1 the go ahead since). Leave of appeal was on 2 issues before the court – one was the question of need was not done, and the second that there was political interference win the process. That means there is enough evidence for the case to proceed.
So how long before the north south line is questioned.
And yes we need power but we need to find the balance of how much, from where and cost. And the “biggie” who benefits, who pays?

I have my doubts that we’ll be seeing any energy dividend in the foreseeable future, but I still think it’s another smart political move by the WR. It’s smart because it’s making the philosophical gap between the WR and the PCs even wider, which (IMO) favours the WR.

The energy dividend announcement raises the philosophical question “who should be the recipient of monies left over after govt. operating costs, capital needs and future “rainy-day” fund contributions have been taken care of?”.

The proposed measure forces the PCs into either agreeing with it, thereby ceding “leadership” on the issue to the WR, or denouncing it, and thus answering the above question “we think WE’RE better able to spend Albertans’ money than they are – why just look at our fiscal management record! (er, on second thought, don’t)”, with the further consequence of potentially alienating the remaining Ralphophiles in the party and among the voters.

I think any objective observer has to agree that, although the election campaign is just starting up, the WR has so far owned the PCs.

I’d say the PCs are owning the Wildrose this week. Not one of my friends is voting Wildrose because of the stupid $300 pledge. How do they expect to balance the budget?

Danielle Smith is anything but conservative.

“the brightest and most intelligent leader of the PC Party since Peter Lougheed”

Faint praise indeed.

“I’d say the PCs are owning the Wildrose this week. Not one of my friends is voting Wildrose because of the stupid $300 pledge. How do they expect to balance the budget?”

By not paying it until after they balance the budget.

If Smith will pay me $300 right now, I might consider voting for them in 4 years. There, a much more reasonable consideration in my opinion.

Look after business, balance the budget then pay a dividend. Doesn’t sound much different than a business plan, which I haven’t seen in the PC crisis management strategy for many years.

So, let’s say the majority of Albertans end up voting for Wildrose, and people who don’t like them (even if they are centre-left) vote for the PCs who have been shown to have questionable ethics and whose time it is to go. What logic… letting 2 foxes guard the chicken coop. (And what a choice.)

If this happens, I think Albertans will be mighty sorry a few years down the road when they see for themselves the effects of a elite, two-tiered health care system, or the sale of our water, etc. and barely anyone in the leg to oppose it.

The solution for progressives is strategic voting to make sure that the most winnable centre-left candidates challenge the right wing. Voting for partisan interests above that of the common good, doesn’t seem like a logical choice to me. Here’s someone who seems to feel the same way:

In the considerable amount of door knocking that I have done since Danielle Smith’s announcement, I have not had one person mention the promise.
No one at the first Red Deer forum today mentioned it either.
I cannot believe that people have not heard of the promise. So I am perplexed by the lack of comment.
Maybe I will hear more in the next couple of days.


I suspect that the promise of sharing oil revenue directly with the people who own the resource won’t hurt the Wild Rose.

On the other hand, one might question just how despearate Alison Redford has become when before completion of trials of Family Care Clinics she announces they government commitment to go ahead and build 140 of them – in direct competition with existing family medical clinics

It was almost sad listing to the Minister try and explain on Rutherford this morning how, yes, there are ongoing trials to see how these clinics work in Slave Lake, Calgary and Edmonton – but regardless of the outcome of the trials, the government is going to build the clinics anyway.

Well planned. Shrewd. Can you recall the massively stupid construction of hospitals all over Alberta under Don Getty?

The more things don’t change. The more things don’t change.

Ralph Klein had an excuse for this ridiculous policy: he was drunk.

What’s Danielle Smith’s?

Even if you agree that Albertans can spend their money better than the government, why aren’t they handing back taxation first?

That’s money that was actually earned, money for which sacrifices were actually made, beyond simply living somewhere. THAT’s the money likely to get spent more effectively.

Haha – “Out-Ralphing Redford” is kind of funny. I’d say Danielle Smith is out-performing Redford on virtually everything so far. Unfortunately, the PCs have strayed from their conservative roots too far. The Wildrose is the only real conservative option.
And to those people that think this is an unwise fiscal policy, there are plenty of caveats. To the poster above, “handing back taxation first” is actually a less beneficial policy. This one is predicated on certain performances, and the equal-cash to all residents is effectively a way to benefit lower-income people more than higher-income people (lower-income people pay little or no taxes, so they would not benefit from tax breaks…).

I find that the Dani Dollar will be the most useless for the Alberta voters. I think the money can used in a better way, as it will probably go to things that are not needed. It could be better spent to help the poorer more by helping them get better educated in how to manage the time and money. Help them to find suitable work. That way they will be able to stand up on their own two feet. They will thank you more for it, if they become better citizens in the long run.

Wild Rose to English translation:
“Balanced budget”: Cuts to education and health care, huge infrastructure delays.
“I love Edmonton. I go to the Fringe!”: Please like me. Please, oh please like me!”
$300 cheques for all: “I think Albertans are complete morons.”

@ Tom — you understand the tories latest budget had a one Billion dollar deficit ..before the billions of additional promises made since the campaign began…not sure why people aren’t more upset about the heritage fund being depleted ..record oil and gas revenues and they still can’t balance the budget.. one serving of fiscal conservatism please .

I understand that commitments announced since the campaign began will not be funded in the current fiscal year- those commitments begin in 2013-14. That’s a point opposition parties also understand but conveniently choose to ignore. A Wild Rose serving of fiscal conservatism comes with school closures, cuts to health care, infrastructure delays…but no side order of social programming. In this way, Danielle isn’t “out-Ralphing” anyone, but she sure makes me “ralph.”

Well, here we are in May of 2013, and this provinces books are a mess. Redford is becoming an embarrassment campaigning to preschoolers about the dangers of opposition, despite a strong economy, they are taking on massive debt. Putting us back in the hole again. When Jello Biafra ran mayor years ago, and his detractors accused him of inexperience, he said – maybe that’s the best qualification, because I haven’t been bought yet. Many are slamming Danielle Smith, but she has never goverened. So how do you know? People are slobbering all over Justin Trudeau, calling him Canada’s greatest hope, he has also never governed. I don’t understand the disparity

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