If you are looking for a definition of “silly season” the first week of Alberta’s 2012 provincial election fits the bill. Despite major policy announcements from each of the main political parties this week, the campaign is being reported as a two-party race and defined by personal attacks and silly distractions.
On March 19, Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith launched her party’s election campaign in front of the Legislative Assembly building. The unfortunate positioning of her photo on the bus’ wrap gave Ms. Smith her 15-minutes of international fame, with jokes about the bus being lobbed by American comedians Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, and Ellen DeGeneres.
Led by Wildrose Party cheerleader Ezra Levant, the conservative-leaning SUN TV tackled the Tories for a push poll launched against Ms. Smith. Of course, most media failed to remember the fact that Ms. Smith’s Wildrose Party launched their own nasty push poll against Premier Alison Redford earlier this year.
Who’s more Albertan?
Reminiscent of the federal Conservative Party attacks against former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, Ms. Smith tried to plant the seed in Albertans’ minds this week that Premier Redford is not a real Albertan. At a campaign stop in Edmonton, Ms. Smith told the media she believes the Premier “doesn’t like Alberta all that much.” As has been already pointed out by others, this is a ridiculous statement coming from a party leader who wants to change the government.
Ms. Smith’s statement reminded me of an ad launched by the Republican Party against their Democratic opponent during the 2006 United States Senate election in Tennessee.
To counter Ms. Smith’s attacks on their leader, the PC war room has set up @WhatSmithSaid, as an attempt to highlight some of the more radical statements made by the former Calgary Herald columnist. Late last year, the Wildrose Party launched The Redford Files, attacking the new Tory leader’s record.
So far, Tory attacks have fallen flat, but with polls showing a real race, I can imagine the Tory war machine is just warming up.
And of course, the most ridiculous statement of the week goes to now former Progressive Conservative campaign staffer Amanda Wilkie. Against better judgement, Ms. Wilkie shot off a tweet at Ms. Smith, accusing her of being insincere about caring for young and growing families because she does not have any children. Ms. Smith’s response could not be more devastating for the PCs.
Is this what “change” looks like?
Despite the silliness of the first week of the campaign, it has been amazing to watch the contrast between the consistent and disciplined Wildrose Party campaign and the flailing and undisciplined PC campaign. Political spin aside, if this first week is a clue about what “change” looks like, Albertans might be feeling buyers remorse after April 23.