Danielle Smith Ed Stelmach Harry Strom Jim Dinning Joe Clark Linda Duncan Paul Martin Rahim Jaffer Ralph Klein Ross Harvey Stephen Harper

the top 10.

With the second round of voting in the Top Alberta Political Moment of the Decade contest now underway, here are some brief descriptions of the top 10 moments to vote for:

Vote – 2000: Thousands of Albertans protest the passage of private health care Bill 11. Albertans raised a massive protest against government plans for private health care and private hospitals. Opposition to Bill 11 is remembered for the the spontaneous nightly vigils at the Legislature. The government passed an amended version of Bill 11 that actually inhibited private health care more than it facilitated it.

Vote – 2001: Ralph Klein berated the homeless in a late night visit to a mens shelter in Edmonton. Long-known for his enjoyment of alcoholic beverages, Premier Ralph Klein’s late night visit to the Herb Jamieson Centre changed how many Albertans viewed the Premier’s vice. Klein publicly apologized and pledged to stop drinking.

Vote – 2004: Ralph Klein declared fiscal debate erased, making Alberta the first debt free province in a decade. At his July 12 Stampede Breakfast, Premier Klein declared Alberta to be ‘debt-free.’ The pursuit of erasing the provincial debt became the defining goal of the government in the 1990s and early 2000s. As the Chief of Staff to the President of Daveberta said, “the language of our elections and our politics is shaped around deficits and spending in a way that isn’t present in other politics.”

Vote – 2005: Gay marriage becomes legal in Alberta. Alberta began granting marriage licences to same-sex couples on July 20, upon the granting of Royal Assent to the federal Civil Marriage Act. After promising to continue opposing same-sex marriage, Premier Klein announced Alberta would would reluctantly recognize same-sex marriage, but promised new legislative protection for anyone who opposed it on moral or religious grounds.

Vote – 2006: Calgary MP Stephen Harper became Prime Minister of Canada. On January 23, Calgary-Southwest MP Stephen Harper led the Conservative Party to defeat the Liberal Party led by Prime Minister Paul Martin to form the first Conservative government since 1988. As the first Prime Minister from Alberta since Joe Clark, Harper’s election shifted the power dynamic in Alberta politics, making it more difficult for the provincial government to criticize the boogeymen in Ottawa.

Vote – 2006: $400 Ralphbucks cheques mailed to every Albertan. An embodiment of short-term vision of a government with unprecedented financial wealth, the $400 Prosperity Bonuses were mailed to every Albertan. This represented $1.4 billion (or 20%) of the $6.8 billion surplus and was criticized by many Albertans as a pointless giveaway (but few actually refused the cheques).

Vote – 2006: Ralph Klein received 55.4% approval in the PC leadership review. After 14 years in the Premier’s office and leading the PC party to four majority governments, low approval from convention delegates forced an early retirement for the man who dominated and defined Alberta politics since 1992.

Vote – 2006: Ed Stelmach defeated Jim Dinning in the PC leadership contest. On December 2, former Finance Minister and Calgary’s favourite son Jim Dinning was unexpectedly defeated by 13-year MLA and former Lamont County Reeve Ed Stelmach. Stelmach became Alberta’s first Premier from rural Alberta since Harry Strom in 1971.

Vote – 2008: Linda Duncan defeated Rahim Jaffer to become the second-ever NDP MP from Alberta. On October 17, Linda Duncan was elected as MP for Edmonton-Strathcona, defeating four-term Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer by 436 votes. The first NDP MP elected in Alberta was Edmonton-East MP Ross Harvey in 1988.

Vote – 2009: Danielle Smith was elected leader of the Wildrose Alliance. Recent polls have shown major short-term growth in Wildrose Alliance support since Danielle Smith was elected leader on October 17, but it may be too soon to tell what long-term effect she will have on Alberta’s political scene. Smith is a former Calgary Board of Education Trustee and Director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Alberta Budget 2009 Auditor General Capital Region Board Ed Stelmach Iris Evans Jim Dinning

2009 alberta pre-budget playbook.

Alberta’s 2009 Provincial Budget will be unveiled at 3pm today, but before you sit down to attentively soak up Finance & Enterprise Minister Iris Evans‘ every word, here’s a short pre-budget playbook:

– How have Alberta’s financial and economic prospects been, according to Premier Ed Stelmach? Good, really bad, not as bad as I told you 24 hours ago, rosy, depending on which month of the year it is.
– A report from the University of Calgary School of Public Policy (pdf) warns that the province could return to a 1980s Getty-style fiscal situation. According to the Calgary Herald, Premier Stelmach reportedly dismissed the report (which was written by two Government Finance and Economics experts) as “nonsense.
– Both the Liberal and NDP Opposition are tackling the budget from an outreach angle. The NDP launched a roundtable consultation months ago, and the Liberals recently launched a website where Albertans can suggest questions for the Official Opposition to ask during budget debates. It would be nice to hear some constructive criticism from the opposition on the budget, but prepare for some railing.
– On April 2, 2009, the Capital Region Board (comprising the municipalities in the Edmonton region) unveiled the Capital Region Growth Plan: Growing Forward. With this report, municipal leaders have taken an important step in guiding the future development of the Capital Region, but like any major development plan, it will need to be backed up with funding to become a reality.
– Iris’ shoe collection. Alberta’s Best Dressed Woman MLA will be shelving her expensive designer shoes (from last year’s budget) in favour of something more modest.
UPDATE: Twitter is #FAILWHALE today, but if it gets fixed, you can follow #ableg for live tweets.
I will be in the Public Gallery for the Budget Speech, and after I make my way through the post-budget scrums, I will report back.
2006 Alberta PC Leadership Race Ed Stelmach Jim Dinning Ted Morton

everybody’s third choice. one year later.

Today is the one-year anniversary of Ed Stelmach‘s selection as leader of Alberta’s 36-year old Progressive Conservative government (and also a first-anniversary for anniversary for Stephane Dion). On December 2, 2006, Stelmach came from third place to defeat Jim Dinning and Ted Morton in the final weekend of the Alberta PC leadership selection.

Stelmach’s year as Tory Premier has been the most shaky the Tories have witnessed in a long time. I could use this post to write about Ed Stelmach’s Tories and their many, many missteps and missed opportunities over the past year (the Calgary-Elbow by-election, EUB spy scandal, a damning Auditor General’s report, waffling on the royalty review, shutting down debate on Bill 46, taking 4 months to deal with Craig Chandler in Calgary-Egmont, the rest of the Top 10, etc), but instead, I’ll wish Premier Stelmach congrats on surprsing many of us by surviving one year.

In conclusion, I will leave you with everyone’s favorite theme song from the 2006 Alberta PC leadership race:

Alberta Tories Ed Stelmach Jim Dinning

it’s cozy in there.

If you haven’t already, read Sheila Pratt‘s column from Sunday’s Edmonton Journal. It’s a great article that takes Ed Stelmach to task for hiring Suncor VP Heather Kennedy as an assistant deputy minister in the Tory Governments oilsands development secretariat. Pratt hits it right on the mark:

“This stinks so badly it makes the toxic lakes on the oilsands mines smell like garden ponds. The worst is that the government doesn’t seem to get the potential conflicts staring it in the face.

Something about the fox and the henhouse quickly comes to mind when the job of coming up with public policy to best manage growth around the oilsands is handed over to a current oilpatch executive, even temporarily.

Would you hire agriculture biotech giant Monsanto, purveyor of GM seeds, to run the agriculture department’s crop improvement program? Or hire Greenpeace to run the environment department? No, the captains of industry and active lobbyists have their own agendas and it’s not always the public agenda.

The treasury department did consult the ethics commissioner about Kennedy’s appointment, which is a signal it had a few qualms. Too bad Alberta’s ethics report is off limits to the public — even though it involved a public servant.

Maybe Stelmach doesn’t understand the mood in post-Klein Alberta.

People voted for him — and against Jim Dinning — partly because they were unhappy about the cosy relationship between business and government, because they thought the oilpatch had too much influence and they wanted a change.

Well, now they’ve got the oilpatch in the senior civil service.

This controversy was totally unnecessary if the government had thought for one moment about it.

There’s no lack of smart people in this province to do the jobs. But there’s shortage of good political judgement in Stelmach’s cabinet.

Kennedy’s appointment comes on the heels of another business cozy controversy in Stelmach’s Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville riding. The Fort Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce attempted to organize a $300 per person fundraiser where half the funds would go to Stelmach’s Constituency Association. The breaks were put on the fundraiser only after a frontpage story and editorial in the Sturgeon Creek Post called on the Chamber to halt its partisan hackery. Dave Truscott is the editor of the Sturgeon Creek Post:

“…there is a time and place for political support, and the Chamber of Commerce is not that place. As a long time member and support of the Chamber I must protest…”

“…to support a whole party or a candidate would be a mistake even if it were not against the bylaws. Governments and candidates come and go. The Chamber of Commerce represents something more enduring. It must be prepared to deal with whoever is in office.”

“I have to add that there is also something very wrong with paying so high a fee to get the ear of our premier. This smacks very much of bribery…”

Chamber of Commerce by-laws are supposed to assure that all Chambers are apolitical, non-partisan, and are not to support any political candidates.

It looks like Ed’s making Jim happy.

2006 Alberta PC Leadership Race Alberta Tories Campaign Finance Jim Dinning

jim who?

Oh yeah, that guy…

Defeated former Tory Dauphin-child Jim Dinning released a list of the names of individuals and corporations who contributed to his failed Alberta PC leadership bid in Fall 2006.

Though it’s only a partial list that doesn’t specify individual contribution amounts, it’s a huge list that totals over $1.7 million in donations to Team Dinning.

Alberta Politics Alberta Tories Ed Stelmach Jim Dinning Ted Morton

shakin’ up the alberta scene.

This great editorial from today’s Calgary Herald touches on some of the same points surrounding the myths of Alberta’s “new political forces” that I’ve talked about for some time now…

Shake up party from inside out
Brent Johner, For The Calgary Herald
Published: Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Alberta’s new premier may be know affectionately as Steady Eddie in small town coffee shops, but his cabinet selections — chosen more for their loyalty than for their brilliance — are seen by many here in Calgary as the Special Eds.

And despite this city’s willingness to give the new guy a chance, many find it hard to believe that a white, middle-aged, male and mostly rural group of conservative cabinet ministers will ever feel comfortable with urban Alberta’s growth-and-change agenda.

So what’s to be done?

What are the alternatives should Steady Eddie and the Special Eds turn out to be Harry Strom and the Socreds reincarnated?

At least one Calgary columnist is predicting the imminent collapse of the Alberta PCs and is calling on Ted Morton and Jim Dinning to flee with their supporters to the Alberta Alliance Party — Alberta’s newest protest party.

He’s not alone. Jeffrey Simpson of the Globe and Mail is also wondering aloud if it isn’t time for a new political alignment in Alberta.

Like many pundits, Simpson disdains the current opposition and looks to the formation of a new party in the event that Steady Eddie proves “too steady,” boring and old-fashioned for Albertans focused on a growth-and-change agenda.

“The name ‘Liberal’ is just too toxic in Alberta,” writes Simpson. “The desire for political change in Alberta runs not through an established political alternative but some new political force.”

He’s wrong, of course. But he can be forgiven for being so. Many people, professional historians included, have looked at Alberta’s history and have come to exactly the same utterly incorrect conclusion.

The brilliant success of two protest parties — the United Farmers of Alberta (1921-1935) and the Social Credit Party (1935-1971) — blinds people to the fact that more than 20 other “new” parties have failed to gain any traction whatsoever in Alberta.

In fact, only a tiny fraction of Alberta’s “new” parties have been able to elect any members to the provincial assembly and with the exception of the two just mentioned, none were able to garner enough support to form a government.

It is nearly three generations now since a new political party in Alberta has gained sufficient momentum to seize the reins of government.

Witness the spectacular lack of success now enjoyed by new parties such as the Alberta Alliance and the Alberta Greens.

A single MLA between them doesn’t give much credence to the arguments put forth by new party proponents.

Even the federal Reform Party (what a monumental waste of time and energy that proved to be) has now slipped below Alberta’s political horizon after failing to achieve anything more than forming the Official Opposition for a few brief years.

So much for the Manning model. So much for Simpson’s “new political forces.”

A much better idea, if history is to be accepted as our best instructor on this subject, is to take an existing party and remake it. That’s what Peter Lougheed did. Or at least, that is what Lougheed is often credited with accomplishing.

In 1965, Lougheed inherited a failed party and a “toxic” brand. Two years later, his Progressive Conservatives formed the Official Opposition. Four years after that, they formed the government.

How did Lougheed do it? He didn’t. At least, not really.

Albertans did it. Specifically, voters in Edmonton and Calgary who had been voting for Social Credit candidates for decades, brought about the government’s sudden collapse.

In 1971, they decided that the Socreds were too steady, boring and old-fashioned. They looked at the dim lights and rural faces perched on the cabinet benches and decided that enough was enough.

After 36 years of one-party rule, the time had come to make a change.

So they switched to a different party — not a new party, but an established party.

It was an enormously practical decision. Not a minute was wasted trying the reinvent the wheel.

Change came in an instant. Without warning, Albertans put a new government formed from an old party on track toward a growth-and-change agenda valued by a new generation of urban voters.

And in doing so, they permanently changed the political landscape.

2006 Federal Liberal Leadership Race Alberta Tories Ed Stelmach Federal Liberals Jim Dinning Stephane Dion

premier-designate ed stelmach.

Saturday December 2, 2006 was a very bad day for political frontrunners.

We saw Stephane Dion ride from fourth place on the first ballot to defeat frontrunners Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae at the Federal Liberal leadership convention in Montreal.

We also saw Ed Stelmach ride from third place on the first ballot of the Alberta PC leadership race to overwhelm both frontrunners Jim Dinning and Ted Morton on the third ballot.

I did make it out to the Alberta PC leadership party at the aviation centre and I can say it was quite an entertaining peice of political theatre. As with the Federal Liberal race, I did enjoy seeing the frontrunners go down in a blaze of glory. (and I’ll give a shout out to Duncan, Allie, and Blake who were all there).

So, what does an Ed Stelmach led-PC Party mean for Alberta’s political scene?

– Ed Stelmach is the first Alberta Premier from rural Alberta since Social Credit Premier Harry Strom from 1968-1971. Will Ed Stelmach take the Tories the root of Social Credit…
– This race very much manifested itself into a Northern Alberta/Edmonton (Stelmach) v. Calgary (Dinning) & Southern Alberta (Morton).What affect does this have on Tory support in urban Alberta? In southern Alberta? Calgary?
– Can Ed Stelmach appeal to Edmonton and Calgary voters? Does Stelmach’s victory bode well for Kevin Taft’s Alberta Liberals?
– What happens to Ted Morton? It was Ted Morton’s supporters who pushed Ed Stelmach over the top on the third ballot (to the effect of 28000 for Ed Stelmach to 4000 for Jim Dinning).
– What happens to Jim Dinning and the Calgary crew? Jim Dinning was Calgary’s candidate…
– What does Ed Stelmach stand for? This isn’t a personal attack, just a legitimate question. Ed Stelmach’s policy positions on this campaign were not exactly the most well developed. We shall wait and see…

I will have more thoughts on “What now?” later this afternoon…

2006 Alberta PC Leadership Race Alberta Tories Dave Hancock Ed Stelmach Jim Dinning Mark Norris Ted Morton

selected alberta pc leadership selection results…

Here are the main and selected riding results from yesterday’s Alberta PC leadership selection…

First Ballot
Jim Dinning – 29,470
Ted Morton – 25,614
Ed Stelmach – 14,967
Lyle Oberg- 11,638
Dave Hancock – 7595
Mark Norris – 6789
Victor Doerksen – 873
Gary McPherson – 744

Second Ballot
Ed Stelmach – 51,764
Jim Dinning – 51,282
Ted Morton – 41, 243

Third Ballot
Ed Stelmach – 77, 577
Jim Dinning – 55,509
(Morton to Stelmach – 25,813)
(Morton to Dinning – 4,227)

Here are some interesting selected riding results…

Calgary Elbow (Ralph Klein’s riding)
First Ballot
Jim Dinning – 1,890
Ted Morton – 656
Ed Stelmach – 360

Second Ballot
Jim Dinning – 2,004
Ed Stelmach – 747

Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville (Stelmach’s riding)
First Ballot
Ed Stelmach – 4,156
Ted Morton – 316
Jim Dinning – 170

Second Ballot
Ed Stelmach – 4,382
Jim Dinning – 193

Little Bow
First Ballot
Ted Morton – 1,784
Jim Dinning – 382
Ed Stelmach – 351

Second Ballot
Ed Stelmach – 1,518
Jim Dinning – 515

2006 Alberta PC Leadership Race Ed Stelmach Jim Dinning Ted Morton

premier ed stelmach…?

Say hello to Premier Ed Stelmach on the third ballot…

Most recent second ballot results of the Alberta PC race…

Jim Dinning – 44.000
Ed Stelmach – 36,000
Ted Morton – 32,000


First, Stephane Dion… now maybe Ed Stelmach… it’s a good night for third place finishers…

I may or may not be heading off to the PC party at the Aviation Centre…

2006 Alberta PC Leadership Race Alberta Tories Ed Stelmach Jim Dinning Ted Morton

debate? how about mini-put?

The three last remaining Alberta PC leadership candidates standing – Ed Stelmach, Ted Morton, and Jim Dinning – had it out tonight in a televised debate. Now, one might say,:

“Daveberta, you’re a keen observer of the albertus politicnus. What did you think of the debate?”

Well, my answer to that question is that I didn’t watch the debate.

I spent my evening having a blast at West Edmonton Mall’s Glow-in-the-Dark Mini-put! If you haven’t been, I do recommend. It’s quite fun.

From what I can tell about the debate, it wasn’t exactly exciting (I may be wrong?).

Jim Dinning went on the attack against Ted Morton. This isn’t overly surprising as Dinning has been in desperate-attack mode against Morton since only receiving 30% support on last Saturday’s PC leadership vote. All you have to do is watch and listen to Dinning to feel the sense that he’s extremely desperate to save his political future and pull off a win. Check out this video of Dinning’s rally speech to supporters earlier this week to see what I mean.

Though I’m really at a loss as to predict what the results of Saturday’s vote will be, it should be interesting to see how much support Ed Stelmach has been able to gain over the past week. He seems like the only of the three to have some sort of momentum…

As for the other candidates, I will have my final pre-second/third ballot up tomorrow.