Learning how to be an effective opposition MLA in Alberta includes a very steep learning curve and the constant challenge of facing a governing party that despises opposition. As any observer of Alberta politics can point out, the Progressive Conservatives have not sustained 41 uninterrupted years in government by being “nice.”
Their veteran Liberal and NDP colleagues, like Laurie Blakeman or Brian Mason, already know, but the 15 rookie MLAs in the Wildrose caucus are only beginning to discover what it is like to occupy the opposition benches.
The appointment of defeated cabinet minister Evan Berger to a plum senior public service position has raised eyebrows and questions about how far the Tories will go to punish Wildrose MLA’s elected in central and southern Alberta constituencies in the April 2012 election.
Some government decisions, such as the cancellation of the Fort Macleod police training school and the closure of the Little Bow Continuing Care Centre, appear to be politically motivated.
The cancellation of the yet to be opened Fort Macleod police training school, which was a perfect example of Tory rural pork barrelling, is being shut down (which is probably the right decision made for the wrong reasons). On the other hand, the closure of the Little Bow Continuing Care Centre has enraged community members in the small village of Carmangay, leaving many to publicly speculate that their votes for local Wildrose MLA Ian Donovan may have contributed to the closure.
Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Kerry Towle, a member of the Wildrose caucus, has become involved in a war of words with Sylvan Lake town council over town hall meetings the MLA held on the topic of the controversial intersection of Highway 11 and 781.
The main question of concern appears to be the issue of who is appropriate advocate for residents of Sylvan Lake on transportation issues? Ms. Towle is the first opposition MLA elected in this constituency in more than 35 years, which puts the town council in the situation of having to work with a local opposition MLA and advocate to the Transportation Minister, Ric McIver. While most urban political watchers will scoff, it is important to understand what an incredible shift this is central and southern Alberta, who are used to being represented by senior cabinet ministers and their drinking buddies. I am sure similar scenarios are being played out in counties, towns, and villages across central and southern Alberta.
Meanwhile, Tory MLAs have been touring central and southern Alberta constituencies holding health care consultations with local leaders, bypassing the locally elected opposition Wildrose MLAs. Edmonton-Riverview Tory MLA Steve Young joined Banff-Cochrane Tory MLA Ron Casey, and Lethbridge Tory MLAs Bridget Pastoor and Greg Weadick at meetings in the Livingstone-Macleod, Little Bow, Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, Cardston-Taber-Warner constituencies – all areas where voters elected Wildrose MLAs.
Ready for the cameras, Premier Alison Redford was on hand with Education Minister Jeff Johnson at the opening of a new school in the town of Okotoks, south of Calgary. No word if local Wildrose MLA, Danielle Smith, was invited to participate in the opening event.
Note: The Wildrose Party official colours are green and pink.
7 replies on “tory strategy leaves wildrose looking rookie green and bruised pink.”
This is precisely what will never change, regardless of our hope in the more progressive Ms Redford. Although political parties can be much influenced by strong leaders, there is a culture of coziness that has mottled into intimidation. Good people doing good things at local levels are actually scared of speaking against government. Doing so is suicide for any programme or initiative at local levels.
We’ve eroded democracy here to the point where citizens are nervous about how our government see us rather than having a government nervous about how citizens see it.
I had high hopes for Ms Redford, but my pessimism is starting to build. So many of us were relieved we escaped a Wildrose government… but we escaped right back to a one-party system where government can (and does) intimidate policy rather than invite open dialogue.
Will, you should not be surprised by the fact that it is business as usual for the PC Party here in Alberta. 41 years of firmly entrenched policy was not about to be changed by Redford as their left-leaning new leader.
You and many others defined the only viable threat to their long reign as a non-alternative. You likely painted the entire WR Party with the same brush illustrated by the two unelectable candidates who became the face of the party for many voters in the 11th hour.
Quite frankly I have little sympathy for you because you and other voters defined the only real option to 41 years of PC rule by two highly under-qualified candidates and failed to examine the WR fiscal policies.
There was a real opportunity to open up the books and see what 41 years of one-party rule has done to a province. but you chose to maintain the status quo. You have little reason to complain at this point.
Lots of back benchers during the Klein years were not happy about the police college. If I recall correctly a certain MLA from Airdrie never quit lobbying for that facility to go a more sensible location in Airdrie (which may have lead to his floor crossing – well that and piles of WRA cash
). And many back benchers did not think there was any value whatsoever in constructing any facility at all! Why not invest in any of our existing colleges to offer this program? Just because there will be a few Tories that will think the icing on the cake is ticking off some WRA members on this decision it is NOT why the project was cancelled.
The WRA keeps nagging about no debt, balance those books and saying Tories can’t manage our money. The new Redford Tories made the right decision – this was a classic example of pork barrelling from the Klein years that needed to be corrected! The WRA needs to be reminded – be careful for what you wish for, you just might get it! They have no right to whine when the cost cutting they are demanding actually ends up cutting costs. You can apply this to the Continueing Care Center (its not a cost effective location – too few residents, too many workers needed, facility requires repairs etc…) and to Ms. Towle’s foley (the people asked for no more deaths – the right in right out lane accomplished this now the WRA thinks literally millions of dollars of upgrades need to be spent which would result insacrificing road improvements in other areas)Funny how the WRA screeched about money when they ran yet spend all their time now trying to get the government to spend money.
“Open the books”… and so it should of happened decades before the Wildrose Party became a party.
Where were ALL of YOU when the Alberta Liberals were providing policies that would bennefit ALL Albertans including Rural Albertans?
But wait, Rural Albertans want control over the Legislature however, the only ones who control the Legislature is the OIL industry who can buy the media and in one week turn the tides for the PC’s.
Alison Redford won by scaring Progressive Albertans into believing all the bad things Wildrose would do when all along the PC’s under Ralph had provided all the examples.
True democracy does not exist in Alberta because rural voters and small town Alberta do not want to give up a false power which provides them government hand outs from urban taxpayers.
We need a government that works for ALL ALBERTANS!
My sympathies to WRA. Opposition is likely not fun when the government uses riding favoritism to intimidate voters.
[…] daveberta.ca – Today, 6:02 PM Rescoop […]
Small town mayor makes some good points but does he remember that one MLA vigorously campaigned that a vote for the WR would mean cancellation of the police college. He was right, he just got the party wrong.
Yes there may have been good fiscal reasons for closing Carmangay – but could they have not just let it empty as the dementia patients passed away? This facility passed inspection just 4 or 5 months ago, the boiler was replaced, and a big new patio deck was just completed. So is this fiscal responsibility, and why did it pass inspection with flying colors? Having dealt with dementia patients, this move was truly lacking any compassion. I hope that this is not the future of how we deal with these patients. I would also venture to say that this would not have happened in calgary or edmonton – and some facilities in both those towns would hlove to have a facility such as they had in carmangay
If Wild Rose looks rookie green, it has nothing to do with government actions. It has everything to do with reality. This bunch is green as grass, fumbling around like a bunch of six year olds on the first day of school. Danielle has either been abducted by aliens or is back in witness protection, leaving Rob “Mr. Warmth” Anderson as their lone mentor. To paraphrase the old Mission Impossible tv series, “This party will self-destruct in five seconds.”