Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ask and ye shall receive

A friend of mine pointed out that I got a bit of a request from Larry Johnsrude's blog to give an update on this humble website. So here goes...

The results on Saturday came as a huge surprise to some, but not to me. Anyone who has spoken with me knows i've been talking about the strength of Morton's campaign team and Stelmach's grassroots appeal, as well as the fact that we (Dinning et al.) didn't have this wrapped up like so many in the media would have had you believe.

From what I hear, this week has taken an expectedly nasty turn. While predictable, I don't intend to join in the volleys of mud being thrown back and forth. Here's why:

I have been deeply involved in PC Alberta for a number of years at all levels. I've been to AGMs and fundraising dinners and electoral campaigns in more ridings (75 at last count) than most people in this party. I know members of this party in every corner of this province and am happy to call them acquaintances, if not friends. I know their intentions are noble and their contributions to the process are essential even if we disagree on a candidate for Premier.

The political apathy in Alberta is breathtaking and, in the case of my own hometown of Fort McMurray, embarassing. In my humble corner of the province alone, we have seen voter turnouts BELOW 40% in provincial elections and a turnout of just 477 people in last Saturday's Leadership vote.

People who support a candidate do so because they genuinely believe in what their candidate is promoting. That kind of involvement, whether we agree with their candidate or not, needs to be supported and nurtured. Our party is already skating on thin ice and anything we do to shut out or shut down involvement is detrimental to the party's future. After this whole thing is said and done, there will be some fences to be mended by whoever becomes Premier... failing to do so would do a grave disservice to our party.

Now I realize that the tone that the two leading campaigns have taken this week do not reflect what I have just said. That's unfortunate, but I suppose is to be expected given the prize at stake.

Nevertheless, I pledged in an earlier post to try and take a big-picture look at things and that is what i'll do.

In the spirit of that big-picture view, i'll tell you what has driven my support for Jim Dinning from Day One.

I'm not from Edmonton or Calgary. I have lived in both places and they are both fine cities, but they do not represent all that is Alberta. I come from a place that is far removed from our major centres by geography (among other things). The issues we face are much different.

I have seen Jim at work in my community and in other places across the province trying to get answers to the questions that people have... not questions about ideology or constitutional battles with Ottawa, but questions about things that affect them in their backyards.

I have consistently seen Jim working to find solutions to improve the standard of living and the quality of life for all Albertans regardless of where they live.

I have seen and admired his ability to speak with a gathering of farmers, a meeting of university students, or a group of CEOs and be open, confident, and comfortable with all of them.

I know of his record in government... that he is not afraid to take on difficult issues... and that he surrounds himself with the best and brightest people available to achieve positive results.

I know of his record in the private sector, where he was a supurb corporate ambassador for TransAlta and the Western Financial Group... and that, even outside the Legislature, he maintained his ties and involvement with our party.

I have faith in his abilities as a Leader to build on this province's past success and make Alberta the economic and social Leader in Canada.

Don't get me wrong, Ted Morton and Ed Stelmach bring some valuable things to the table. Ted's push for electoral reforms should be an important plank in our next campaign platform. And Ed's service in government is a model for integrity and concensus-building which all elected officials should strive to follow.

But when it comes down to who can balance the interests of all Albertans and take them forward in a strong but diplomatic fashion, there is only one person I trust.

Jim Dinning.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Two things


I have been noting over the past couple of days that the pre-vote rhetoric in the PC Leadership Race is REALLY cranking up. To be fair, I say that of all sides and have even been guilty of it myself.

Right now, it looks as though this race can be run by one of two people... Jim Dinning or Ted Morton. These two men represent different visions for Alberta and different styles of leadership. Each appeals greatly to their supporters and generally dislikes the views and supporters of the other.

What is getting lost is this: the PC Party of Alberta has remained successful for 36 years due to its ability to welcome a variety of viewpoints under our tent. It is this kind of pragmatism that has kept our party in government and, increasingly, it is what drives up the popularity of the federal Conservative Party led by Prime Minister Harper.

In fact, the Prime Minister can serve as a very good example to both Dinning and Morton when it comes to building the inclusive party that can regain some of the lost confidence of Albertans.

When the PC Party and the Canadian Alliance came together in 2003, there was animousity on both sides. Those from the Alliance side of the merger were less than thrilled that they were now under the same banner as the likes of Peter MacKay, whilst those from the PC side were equally disgruntled at being a member of the party of Rob Anders. Some of that animousity continues to this day.

The key point, though, is that these divergent viewpoints remain united under one party. And more importantly, the Leader of said party has led in a pragmatic way that has shown appeal to both sides of the divide.

The lesson that Prime Minister Harper provides should be front and centre for both Mr. Dinning and Dr. Morton. Our party and our province deserve nothing less.

As I mentioned earlier, i've also been caught up in the rhetoric trap of late. Perhaps the fact that I am not on the ground fighting the fight has given me a broader perspective on the whole thing... or perhaps i'm just in a friendly mood today. Whatever the case, i'm going to take a step back and make a pledge.

If Ted Morton wins, I won't rule out a return to Alberta. So long as I am not purged or blacklisted, I will continue to maintain my ties and offer my support and input to PC Alberta.

I would hope that, under the same conditions, those in the Morton camp would agree to the same.


I have finally heard both the Dinning and the Morton campaign songs. I will gladly concede this one. The Morton tune may not be up for any music awards, but ours is just plain awful.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I'm kinda glad I already have a Premier

A couple of things on the Leadership Race:

FIRST, former Premier Peter Lougheed has thrown his support behind Jim Dinning. This will no doubt give encouragement to the Morton and Oberg camps, who seem to have little time for the kind of province-building that Premier Lougheed exercised back in his day. More and more, Ken Chapman's observations about the nature of this race and the future of this party are becoming clear. We can either work within the big tent that has kept us in government for so long, or we can pull some of the outer pins and tell people to go hitch their horse to another wagon.

Maybe its the fresh sea air talking, but i'm not sure this decision requires much thought. I'm sitting here in a province that is NDP-free thanks to a well-run, big-tent coalition of free enterprisers. Historically, the NDP have managed to take over when that big tent is shrunk (see 1991). Granted, there isn't nearly the opposition movement in Alberta that exists in BC... but that isn't to say it will always be so.

Even Norris agreed that our biggest potential threat is a Bronconnier-led Alberta Liberal Party. I, for one, don't think the best way to defeat him is to drive supporters towards him.

SECOND, it sounds like the Advance Polling in Edmonton was a bit of a gong show. This is hardly surprising given the organizational record and foresight of some of the higher-ups in the politboro. What is surprising, though, is the ridiculous suggestions coming from Renewing The One Party State that the lineups in Edmonton as opposed to Calgary or rural polls are somehow part of a grand Jim Dinning conspiracy to subvert democracy.

Seriously guys, give your heads a collective shake. I know how easy it is to be caught up in all of this and lose touch with reality, but there is a limit. When this is all over, regardless of who wins, I REALLY hope people will be able to look back and realize how ridiculous some of their statements have been.

ps. Life goes on over at Blake On The Coast... come say hi!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The debate

Thanks to the miracle of Shaw Digital Cable, I was able to watch last night's Alberta PC Leadership Debate via Global Edmonton.

Rick Bell's column in today's Calgary Sun sums up the night fairly well in my mind.

Beyond that, I made the following observations:

Did reasonably well. Not a knock-em-out performance, but stayed on message and used his two interjections well.

This was the first i've seen of him since the debate I went to in St. Albert. His public speaking has greatly improved. I was glad to see his son Les (a reader of this humble blog) in the audience... belated congratulations to Les and his wife Liza on the birth of their son (their first child and Ed and Marie Stelmach's first grandchild).

Came out strong. Perhaps a bit more confrontational than necessary, particularily since most of the others weren't. Dave is clearly fighting back hard against perception that he is an also-ran, and I think he may have made a bit of headway last night.

On par with what we've seen so far. He's a good man, but a bit out of his league.

I think this guy earns points every time he opens his mouth. He's smart and articulate. He's said he'll run in the next provincial election... if he does, i'll fly out to volunteer... we need more Gary McPherson's in public office.

Folksy and friendly. Just like we've had for the last 13 years.

I lump these two together because I found their performances to be quite similar. They stuck to their narrowly scripted visions. Given their histories and general demeanour, these two could have easily been noted in their high school yearbooks as "Most Likely to Pick a Fight with... anybody!" I have come to the conclusion that electing either of these two would go a long way in keeping me in British Columbia after I graduate.

Now speaking of British Columbia, i've started updating Blake On The Coast (BOTC) on a regular basis. It also has a new header which would not have been uploaded without the grace, skill, and infinite wisdom of Allie Wojtaszek. So head on over and give it a read... we're less than 3 weeks from the complete transition to BOTC!

Thursday, November 9, 2006

The beginning of the end

It seems as though the discussion thread from the last post has become a hotspot for comment, so I thought I would bring everything into a new post and deal with a couple of other issues as well.

First, re: Nuclear Plants.
Jim did NOT say that it has to go on the NE Alberta wish list. He said that its an option that should be looked into further and I agree. At a time when we are already drawing too much water from the Athabasca and wasting much of our natural gas, we need to explore every option with an open mind. I'm leery about the idea of nuclear energy, but he's right about it being something that should be looked at.

Second, re: Offer to Hancock.
As i've stated here before, I am not a paid employee of the Dinning campaign. This is the first i've heard of an offer being made to Hancock, but I think anyone who is genuinely surprised about this doesn't understand the nature of this game very well. I suspect that other teams are making overtures as well. The differences here are that a) Being the perceived front-runners, our crew has a bit more clout and b) Not all candidates wives have blogs. This is not a dirty trick. Whoever talked to Hancock didn't say "if you don't, we'll smoke you and your family out of Whitemud and lock you in a dungeon"... they just suggested it was a time sensitive offer. And all of this aside, I think everyone recognizes that Dave Hancock is one of the smartest and most ethical people in the PC Alberta caucus, and that his intelligence, competence, and the fact that he represents an Edmonton riding will ensure he remains a force in Cabinet no matter who wins.

Third, re: Anonymous posting
It seems to me that this race has attracted many in the blogosphere who are always at the ready to mouth off about the issue du jour, but are rather shy when it comes to putting their name alongside their thoughts. Admittedly, I have been guilty of this myself over on Renewing The One Party State (for those who haven't yet figured it out, I have been posting as Tory Footsoldier). I do not necessarily disagree with the right to post anonymously, but I am putting a stop to it on this blog and its comments section.

Finally, re: This Blog
Over the past few weeks, my sense of disconnection with events in Alberta has grown considerably. Concurrently, my connection with people and issues in British Columbia has grown. I am finding myself increasingly "out of the loop" with respect to Alberta issues and events of the day. Given that, I have come to the decision that I will terminate this blog after the conclusion of the Alberta PC Leadership Race. I still have some knowledge of how PC Alberta and its people operate so I will continure to blog here (however infrequently) until the race is over. Once the new Premier and his Cabinet are chosen, though, it'll be lights out for albertatory.