Just when I thought I was done for the day, I strolled over to see Will at Noise From The Right. In his latest post, he asks me a fair question which i'll do my best to answer.
Before I get to that, though, there are a couple of points he makes that i'd like to touch on.
For one, there was nothing inconsistent about backing Scott Brison for Leader of the former PC Party of Canada. For those who wanted to see some fresh, bold, and conservative ideas (things like Jump Start 250 and the elimination of ACOA), Scott was clearly the right choice. Yes, we all know that he has since betrayed his conservative roots in favour of a cheap shot at power under the Liberals... I suppose none of us thought to break out the crystal ball back in 2002/03.
True, I gave Scott a hug the last time I saw him, even though to I went over to McLellans' office with the intentions of tearing a strip off of him. I reminded myself of a phrase I often repeated to my PC friends when informing them of my decision to campaign for the Alliance in the 2000 election... "friendship transcends politics." Scott is still a friend, and I think you would find that sentiment resonates with a great number of people who spent the kind of time working with Scott as I did when he was a tory. If that makes us somehow less worthy as human beings in the eyes of "principled conservatives", then so be it.
Sometimes one realizes that life is too short to hold a stupid grudge.
The second piece Will touches on is the "party establishment" within PC Alberta. I have had more than my fair share of run-ins with said establishment and would also love to see them driven from the halls of influence. The people I see as being problematic to our party, though, are not the people who have been identified as "the Calgary mafia". They are primarily based in the Capital region and have very much turned our party into a glorified partisan bureaucracy.
Rather than being his downfall, the Premier's advisors in Calgary were the people who helped shape him into the politician that so many of us loved in the early days. It was when the Premier stopped listening to the Art Smith's and the Scobey Hartley's and shifted his attention to the more career-oriented politicos in the Capital that things started to go south.
I agree with Will that there are a great many people who are content to move "at the speed of Government" who need to go, but I think that their support does not currently with either my candidate or Will's candidate.
Now that that's out of the way, the question William poses for me is "does Dinning enjoy such strong support?"
Until the votes are counted sometime in November, the best anyone can offer is an educated guess based on the opinions of people they talk to. The people I talk to here in Fort McMurray, are a mix of industry and public sector leaders, small business owners, community activists and average folks who work out at one of the plant sites. Those who follow politics at all are, by and large, behind Jim. They like his political and professional resume, and they like the fact he has been up here talking and listening to people in Wood Buffalo about the issues we face.
Is my perception that Dinning has strong support based primarily on the vibe I get here in Fort McMurray? Probably so.
But I wonder what the sentiment is in other communities outside of Edmonton and Calgary?
Aside from Dr. Oberg's sudden departure from caucus, the only story in our local paper regarding any of the PC Alberta leadership candidates occurred when Jim was in town to meet with the RHA, Keyano College, and the Mayor.
The other candidates have rarely been seen to be talking about Fort McMurray issues and, if they have, they certainly haven't been seen up here.
One can open the major papers in Edmonton or Calgary and read about what is quickly becoming an Edmonton against Calgary taint on this entire race. That may sell memberships in Edmonton and Calgary, but it does precious little to advance the real issues facing people in this province.
On his blog, Jim said recently: said all along: "I’ll be a leader for all Alberta. I won't do the Calgary vs Edmonton thing. Nor rural vs urban. Or north vs south. Others might play that games. I'm determined to be a leader for all of Alberta."
Its a sentiment I agree with and one that every leadership candidate should echo.
In talking to a number of MLAs last week (some who are and some who aren't supporting my candidate), I definetly got the feeling that caucus wants this race to heat up and start talking about serious issues rather than fighting over who has who's support or where that support comes from.
I suspect Albertans are beginning to feel the same way.