For those who missed it (and I imagine most Albertans fit into this category), Social Credit Party leader Len Skowronski waded into the great Oil Sands debate in February by releasing a nine-point plan for Oil Sands development. Social Credit formed the Government of Alberta from 1935 to 1971.
Here’s a quick look at how campaign 2008 is shaping out in Alberta…
1. Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft released his party’s plans for Alberta’s two largest cities in an Edmonton Regional plan and Calgary Regional plan. Watch for the Alberta Liberals to focus on coalition building in Alberta’s two largest municipalities and their regions. As the Alberta Liberals probably aren’t going to gain waves of support from deep rural Tory strongholds, building an urban coalition is a smart strategy for a party looking to break Ed Stelmach‘s Tories’ 37-year-old grip on Alberta’s Legislature.
2. The Stelmach Tories have released their first TV ad with the first being on the topic of health care. Yesterday, Ed Stelmach promised to train hundreds of new doctors, nurses and health-care workers over the next four years (just in time to get rid of health care premiums).
The medical community was quick to throw in their two cents on Stelmach’s health care announcement:
…according to Dr. Trevor Theman, registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, that is likely not possible: although the need is there, it would require a near-doubling of current training spending from the province and involve recruiting dozens of more people to train them – with staff to train physicians already an issue for the existing 250 spots.
“Edmonton and Calgary are already maxed out in their ability to train, and even if there were more money, it’s an issue of human resources,” said Theman. “You need trainers available and you need people who have clinical experience to handle that training.”
In fact, the only way to achieve the province’s doctor target, said Theman, would be by relying chiefly on recruitment of overseas physicians, which is already the province’s principal new source of doctors.
3. Word on the street has it that the Stelmach Tories being sticks in the mud and are holding out in negotiations for this election’s Leaders’ Debate. The debates would have Stelmach face Kevin Taft, Wildrose Alliance leader Paul Hinman, and ND leader Brian Mason in a live province-wide radio and televised debate. Does this mean that the Tories concerned about Stelmach’s public debating skills?
4. The Social Credit Party has laid out their ambitious plan for Alberta:
Social Credit will be fielding 12 candidates and asking Albertans in the coming weeks to consider the only alternative to the Liberals or ruling Conservatives – Social Credit, a party with a rich history of governing the province and a party eager to rekindle a flame under the people of Alberta.
5. As the Alberta Greens, Soreds, and Wildrose Alliance continue to nominate candidates across the province, the Stelmach Tories have appointed two candidates in difficult constituencies: Manmeet Bhullar in Calgary-Montrose and T.J. Keil in Edmonton-Strathcona. Bhullar was appointed after the Tories rejected the Calgary-Montrose PC Association choice-candidate Robin Leech.
6. The list of 2008 Alberta Election candidates continues to grow. If I’ve missed any candidates or their websites, send me an email at email@example.com.
I’ll briefly return to Alberta’s provincial political scene for a post or two…
– Drayton Valley-Calmar Tory MLA Reverend Tony Abbott lost the Tory nomination to former Drayton Valley Mayor Diana McQueen. This is a huge blow to the social conservative-wing of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives. Though I don’t consider Abbott to have been a very effective MLA, he carried the anti-abortion crazy flag dropped by former Tory MLA Julius Yankowski (Yankowski was defeated in Edmonton-Beverly Clareview in the 2004 election). The Reverend will be running as an independent and will pose a strong challenge to McQueen’s Tory ambitions.
– Because I’m sure no one noticed, the Alberta Social Credit Party is in the midst of a raucous leadership race… here are the candidates…
– The senior security executive on the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board was finally fired over the AEUB spy scandal. This is a good first step, but the real problem remains – Energy Minister Mel Knight, who along with Ed Stelmach protected and defended the AEUB’s after its use of public funds to hire a private investigator to spy on ordinary Albertans, still remains in his job. This is a serious issue and actions like these should not be taken lightly. If the Stelmach Tories are serious about “accountability and transparency,” Knight would no longer be sitting at the Tory Cabinet table.
The AEUB spy scandal is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Mel Knight’s reputation as Minister of Energy, along with former Minister of Energy Greg Melchin, Knight’s department was singled out by Auditor General Fred Dunn in his report:
“The principals of transparency and accountability, I believe, were not followed. I’m not impressed.”
“The department should demonstrate its stewardship of Alberta’s royalty regime and provide analysis to support that stewardship and this was not done.”
“The department’s monitoring and technical review findings were communicated to decision-makers. The question is: Did they hear or were they listening? At the end of the day, I don’t know, but they chose not to act.”
So, when are the real heads going to roll?