Saturday, December 23, 2006

Albertatory turns 100

This is my 100th post on this blog. I only wish it wasn't prompted by this:


I suspect he'll run in a Vancouver-area riding, since that's where he lives.

God forbid he wins.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Journal Blogs

G'day all.

Sorry I haven't been blogging much lately... i'm in Kelowna for Christmas and, frankly, its a lot more fun than ranting on a computer.

That said, something has been nagging me and I feel compelled to complain about it.

Well not something, someone.

Most Alberta bloggers (even those of us who use the term "Albertan" somewhat disingenuously of late) know that the Edmonton Journal has an impressive host of columnist-written blogs on their website.

The two I read are Larry Johnsrude and Graham Thomson, mainly being they're up on political events... and Larry in particular has shown interest in Fort McMurray issues.

Now i've never been a huge fan of Graham Thomson. I find that, even after 20 years in Alberta, he often writes like a Central Canadian. I've often called into question some of his statements... particularily whenever he raves about the oratory abilities of Kevin Taft (and if you agree, you might as well stop reading because my point will be lost on you).

Lately on his blog, Graham has seemed to have a fascination with Jim Dinning, why he lost, and all of the theories that people have as to why he lost.

As exciting as that is, its time to get over it. Dinning lost, and he (and all of us who supported him) are fully aware of that. We've accepted our fate, gotten behind the man who DID win, and moved on.

Rather than trying to be an armchair historian, Graham should concentrate more on the guy who did win and what his team is up to... it is far more relevant to Albertans.

Or he could do like Larry does and diversify his blog a bit... I never tire of reading some of the great stuff he puts up.

Friday, December 15, 2006

And now you know why I don't play poker, folks.

The Premier announced his new Cabinet today and i've got some egg on my face. I managed to predict 10 of the 18 Ministers who were appointed today, but correctly matched only 3 of them with their new portfolios.

So thoughts... here we go:

Not a huge surprise to see Snelgrove in Cabinet. Although I didn't peg him directly, he was one of the "maybes" on the earlier list. His business background is likely why the Premier made him the taxpayer's watchdog (a la John Baird). The surprise here is that he's #2 in order of Cabinet precedence.

HON. DOUG HORNER (Advanced Ed/Technology)
Pegged him for a big cabinet post, so i'd like to say I was sorta close. Horner's a smart guy with a bright future. He'll do well here.

HON. IRIS EVANS (Employment, Immigration and Industry)
Was the head of Sturgeon County, arguably the site of the biggest growth Alberta will see in the next few years. Her time in Children's Services and Health have left some mixed reactions, so it'll be interesting to see what she does in this new role.

Called it! I know Mel and his work on this file... both are impeccable. Melchin was a good minister, but i'll bet there are a lot of people in the oilpatch who are smiling right now.

HON. DAVE HANCOCK (Health and Wellness)
I remember Health being a possibility for Hancock after the 2004 election but I hadn't heard much speculation on that front since. A high-profile portfolio, though... no one expected any different for Hancock.

HON. RAY DANYLUK (Municipal Affairs and Housing)
No surprise that Danyluk is at the table. I had called him for Agriculture, but this one makes sense too. He was a former Reeve of his county and his constituency of Lac La Biche-St.Paul includes the most dysfunctional municipal government in Alberta... I suspect the local boy will cure what ails them.

HON. RON LIEPERT (Education)
Completely out of left field. I had one guy telling me that this would be the reach-out to Dinning since Liepert was Dinning's #1 caucus coordinator, but I didn't believe it. I think I owe that fellow a beer. Liepert is a smart guy and should do very well in this role.

HON. JANIS TARCHUK (Children's Services)
Another surprise. Janis' name was bandied about as a possibility, but I wasn't putting a lot of stock in it. Still, she's been a highly under-utilized member of caucus... someone who speaks only when she has something intelligent to say, which is refreshing. A solid person in a tricky Ministry, should be good news for the folks in Children's Services.

HON. ROB RENNER (Environment)
Called him for cabinet, but not this portfolio. It makes sense, though, given that he's from the dryest part of the province and Water For Life is going to be a huge issue for the ministry. Seems that Rob has a habit of taking over things from Guy Boutilier... PC Youth Caucus Liason... Municipal Affairs... now Environment.

This was another one of my possible musings early on that didn't get included in my final list. George's agricultural pedigree is outstanding and, given the importance of Agriculture to southern Alberta, its not a surprise it shifted to a southerner.

This was the bombshell. Many people were hoping that Oberg wouldn't get a very senior position... not so, it seems. Oberg was touted as having the most detailed plans during the leadership race, so that may have swayed Premier Stelmach in his deliberations.

HON. LUKE OUELLETTE (Infrastructure and Transportation)
Called it! It makes perfect sense for all the reasons I outlined in the last post.

HON. RON STEVENS (Justice and Attorney General)
Called it! And, again, was the most logical choice for the job. No Deputy Premier title, but it looks like no one gets that anymore.

HON. GREG MELCHIN (Seniors and Community Supports)
I had Greg pegged to be dumped, but am glad to see I was wrong. He's a competent minister, I just figured he was too close to Dinning. The new portfolio is a demotion, no question, but Greg's conviction towards community service and helping others will likely make him an excellent minister here.

HON. GUY BOUTILIER (International, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs)
YES! I WAS WRONG! It will be interesting to see the approach Guy takes as Alberta's new Chief Diplomat and with the former department of Aboriginal Affairs. Guy staying in cabinet sends a signal from the Premier that he understands how important our Fort McMurray issues are to the rest of the province.

HON. TED MORTON (Sustainable Resource Development)
I almost had the portfolio pegged, so i'm not surprised to see him in here. What IS surprising (and what has the Morton folks fuming mad) is that he is third from the bottom on the order of precedence. This could be seen as a slap in the face and may make things a bit difficult internally with the Morton folks. It'll also be interesting to see what, if any, action "Ranger Ted" (hat tip to Chris and William) takes on the Metis Harvesting Agreement and if that'll cause any friction between him and Boutilier.

HON. FRED LINDSAY (Solicitor General and Public Safety)
I have to say this one dissapoints me. Not that I have anything against Fred Lindsay... I don't know him but i'm sure he's a good man. I just thought that Harvey Cenaiko was such a supurb Minister in this portfolio. Dumping Cenaiko was the biggest mistake made in constructing the new cabinet.

HON. HECTOR GOUDREAU (Tourism, Parks, Recreation, and Culture)
If the last one dissapointed me, this one elates me! I figured Premier Stelmach would want 2 voices from the northwest part of Alberta, but I pegged the non-Grande Prairie one to be Ivan Strang given his seniority in caucus. That said, Hector Goudreau is one of the brightest lights in the Tory caucus. Like Janis Tarchuk, he only opens his mouth when he has something intelligent to say and that is most admirable. Felicitations a mon ami Hector, un maudit bon gars!

  • I'm surprised at the lack of women in cabinet... now down to just two: Iris Evans and Janis Tarchuk. Demographic considerations must not have played highly in the Premier's deliberations. Reaction to this will be interesting to watch.
  • Two major Alberta cities, Lethbridge and Red Deer, are without cabinet representation. This will, no doubt, cause an uproar in both cities.
  • The two big cities, Edmonton and Calgary, only have 4 Ministers between them. Being a rural/suburban guy, I suspect the Premier crafted cabinet more on regional (Capital, Calgary areas) lines rather than distinguishing Edmonton and Calgary from its neighbours. This, like the Red Deer/Lethbridge thing, could cause some difficulties.
  • A lot of new faces around the table who should have some fresh ideas and energy to burn... I look forward to seeing how they do.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Out on a limb

Premier-designate Stelmach released a backgrounder explaining the new look of Alberta's ministries. The new structure reduces the size of cabinet from 24 to 18 ministers (19 including the Premier) and eliminates the Standing Policy Committees.

I like it!

The detailed backgrounders can be found here. I offer for you, now, a listing of Alberta's 19 new Cabinet posts:

1. Premier
2. President of the Treasury Board, Minister for Service Alberta
3. Advanced Education and Technology
4. Municipal Affairs and Housing
5. Energy
6. Health and Wellness
7. Employment, Immigration and Industry
8. Education
9. Children's Services
10. Environment
11. Agriculture and Food
12. Finance
13. Infrastructure and Transportation
14. Justice and Attorney General
15. Seniors and Community Supports
16. International, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Relations
17. Sustainable Resource Development
18. Solicitor General and Public Safety
19. Tourism, Parks, Recreation and Culture

I'm also going to go out on a limb and make my final predictions for the first Stelmach cabinet. I suspect some of these will be wrong, but it's the best educated guess I can muster given what i've been able to gather from various sources and my own speculation.

Premier of Alberta
HON. ED STELMACH (Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville)
Rationale: He won the Leadership race ;)

President of the Treasury Board, Minister of Service Alberta
Rationale: Was a leadership contestant, has a solid accounting background, returns Red Deer to the Cabinet table.

Minister of Advanced Education and Technology
HON. DAVE HANCOCK (Edmonton-Whitemud)
Rationale: Backed Ed and delivered for him in his constituency. Was a strong Minister for this portfolio before he had to step down. Given that he was the "education candidate", there are probably some things he'd like to finish.

Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
HON. ROB RENNER (Medicine Hat)
Rationale: Although he backed Dinning, so did the other MLA for the Medicine Hat area. Given the choice, Stelmach will keep the current area Minister and leave him in his current role.

Minister of Energy
HON. MEL KNIGHT (Grande Prairie-Smoky)
Rationale: Backed Ed whereas his fellow GP MLA Gord Graydon backed Dinning. Knight has a very strong background in the energy sector and is known for his work on this file across North America.

Minister of Health and Wellness
HON. IRIS EVANS (Sherwood Park)
Rationale: Backed Ed from the get-go. Likely has her picks of portfolios, but what other high-profile job would a former nurse rather have?

Minister of Employment, Immigration and Industry
HON. CLINT DUNFORD (Lethbridge West)
Rationale: Same as Renner, except the other Lethbridge MLA is a Liberal. Returns to his old portfolio with new responsibilities.

Minister of Education
HON. PEARL CALAHASEN (Lesser Slave Lake)
Rationale: Backed Ed on the 2nd ballot and delivered. Was the natural choice for Aboriginal Affairs when it was stand-alone, but now that its been lumped together with IIR it can go to a number of different people. Calahasen has a Master's Degree in Education and has likely been wanting to prove she can handle a bigger job.

Minister of Children's Services
HON. CAROL HALEY (Airdrie-Chestermere)
Rationale: Too many people have told me that she is heading to cabinet for me to discount it. Carol is well-liked by the new Premier and has been waiting patiently for a promotion for many years.

Minister of Environment
HON. TED MORTON (Foothills-Rockyview)
Rationale: This is the perfect Ministry to give to Dr. Morton. Its a high enough profile that he and his supporters won't feel like they've been shuffled off to the back, and its a department which Dr. Morton has expressed strong interest in for many years as a conservationist. His environmentally-sensitive riding in the foothills seals the deal.

Minister of Agriculture and Food
HON. RAY DANYLUK (Lac La Biche-St. Paul)
Rationale: Was home to the 2nd highest number of votes for Stelmach in Alberta. Has a solid agricultural background and is well-liked and respected around the caucus table.

Minister of Finance
HON. DOUG HORNER (Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert)
Rationale: Backed Ed on the 2nd ballot and delivered. Has proven to be a competent Minister and has a solid understanding of Finance. The name "Horner" alone inspires confidence in Alberta.

Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation
HON. LUKE OUELLETTE (Innisfail-Sylvan Lake)
Rationale: Was the 2nd biggest name in Ed's basket at the start and is itching (and deserving) to take over a real Ministry. Is exceptionally loyal to the new Premier and represents a corridor constituency.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General
HON. RON STEVENS (Calgary Glenmore)
Rationale: Has been the biggest Calgary name bandied about. Is also one of the very few lawyers in caucus, an absolute requirement for this portfolio. Stevens will be seen as the Dinning connection to Calgary and will likely be a vital part of the team. If the Deputy Premier title remains intact, expect it to be awarded here.

Minister of Seniors and Community Supports
HON. YVONNE FRITZ (Calgary Cross)
Rationale: Supported Dinning as well, but doesn't seem to be nearing retirement as Heather Forsyth is. With only 2 Calgary women in cabinet, Fritz will be the one that Stelmach keeps. She'll also keep her relatively low-profile job.

Minister of International, Intergovernmental, and Aboriginal Relations
HON. LYLE OBERG (Strathmore-Brooks)
Rationale: A lot of people were wondering what Stelmach could give Lyle without pissing off a bunch of people... this is likely his best bet. The IIR portion seen as high-profile, but is largely caretaking, given that its the Premier who truly speaks for Alberta on important issues. Lyle can also handle the Aboriginal Affairs portion given that he was endorsed by both an Aboriginal group and the current minister of Aboriginal Affairs.

Minister of Sustainable Resource Development
HON. IVAN STRANG (West Yellowhead)
Rationale: Backed Ed. Has a keen interest in issues in the SRD portfolio given his riding. Is a solid member of caucus and has patiently awaited a deserved promotion.

Solicitor General and Minister of Public Safety
HON. HARVEY CENAIKO (Calgary Buffalo)
Rationale: Has been brilliant in this portfolio. Represents a downtown Calgary riding, exactly the people that the new Premier will have the hardest time connecting with. Is also a relatively fresh face in caucus and cabinet.

Minister of Tourism, Parks, Culture and Recreation
HON. GENE ZWOZDESKY (Edmonton Mill Creek)
Rationale: A few people say they think the Zwoz will get the boot, but i'm not sure how the new Premier can rationalize having only one minister from Edmonton-proper. This is a demotion for Zwozdesky, but to most of a portfolio which he held and excelled in before the last election.

The notable exception on this list, you may notice, is my own MLA and good friend Guy Boutilier. I would like to stress that these are my best guesses for Cabinet, not necessarily my hopes. I think it would be very unfortunate for Premier Stelmach not to have cabinet representation for the economic engine of Alberta. That said, I have simply heard from too wide a variety of people that Guy will be demoted... it was impossible to ignore in my deliberations. That said, I REALLY REALLY hope i'm wrong.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Cabinet guesses

I realize this is some pretty early speculation on the Stelmach cabinet, but speculation is what the blogosphere thrives on!

Minister: HON. RALPH KLEIN (Calgary-Elbow)
What Happens?: Premier Stelmach is the only sure thing come December 15th.

Minister: HON. PEARL CALAHASEN (Lesser Slave Lake)
What Happens?: Pearl stays in cabinet for sure... she backed Eddie on the 2nd ballot and delivered for him. Its reasonable to conclude that she'll stay in Aboriginal Affairs, too. Pearl's a smart lady (Master's Degree and all), but she's also the most logical choice in caucus for this Ministry.

Minister: HON. DENIS HERARD (Calgary-Egmont)
What Happens?: Herard is toast. A Dinning MLA who is close to retirement isn't likely to fare well in cabinet making.

Minister: HON. DOUG HORNER (Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert)
What Happens?: Horner has a lock on keeping Hon. in front of his name. He backed Ed in the second ballot and, like just about every other Ed coalition MLA, delivered. Ed does have a lot of rural folks to reward, though, so Horner may get shuffled from Agriculture. Luckily for Ed, Minister Horner is a bright and versatile member who could be given almost any portfolio without hesitation.

Minister: HON. HEATHER FORSYTH (Calgary-Fish Creek)
What Happens?: My bet is that Forsyth is out. Given the choice between her and Yvonne Fritz as female Calgary Ministers, i'm betting he keeps Fritz.

Minister: HON. DENIS DUCHARME (Bonnyville-Cold Lake)
What Happens?: Denis has been a great member of caucus since his first election, but he's got two major things going against him: 1. He backed Dinning. 2. He's from rural NE Alberta, the Stelmach heartland. Sadly, I think Minister Ducharme will be no more.

Minister: HON. CLINT DUNFORD (Lethbridge West)
What Happens?: Lethbridge's only Government MLA stays in cabinet thanks to geography and competence. Could get shuffled, though.

Minister: HON. GENE ZWOZDESKY (Edmonton-Mill Creek)
What Happens?: The jury's out on this one. Many say that he's out because he backed Dinning and Stelmach has lots of northerners to reward. I was thinking more along the lines that he's a valuable voice from Edmonton-proper along with Hancock. Could go either way.

Minister: HON. GREG MELCHIN (Calgary-North West)
What Happens?: Stays in cabinet and keeps this job. Stelmach has to pick from a Calgary full of Dinning supporters, and Melchin is one of the most competent of them all. The industry also likes him. Look for Premier Stelmach not to ruffle too many feathers in the oilpatch.

Minister: HON. GUY BOUTILIER (Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo)
What Happens?: Guy stays in cabinet, without question... again, geography is on his side. May get shuffled from this portfolio, though. If Stelmach is uncomfortable giving Morton the Intergovernmental Affairs portfolio, this or SRD could be a good fit for the Professor.

Minister: HON. SHIRLEY MCCLELLAN (Drumheller-Stettler)
What Happens?: I think Shirley will stay in cabinet. Premier Stelmach will want to have a few experienced voices around the table and none is more experienced than Alberta's version of C.D. Howe. She'll likely lose the Deputy Premier title and possibly get shuffled from Finance, but she won't be demoted too far down the line.

Minister: HON. GORDON GRAYDON (Grande Prairie-Wapiti)
What Happens?: Minister Graydon has been competent, but his fellow northwestern MLAs who backed the new Premier will likely bump him from cabinet. Personally, Gaming is a ministry i'd like to see amalgamated with something else.

Minister: HON. GEORGE VANDERBURG (Whitecourt-Ste. Anne)
What Happens?: Same boat as Zwozdesky, but for different reasons. George VanderBurg was one of the rising stars from the Class of 2001 and the new Premier may not want to dump him, but he's also got a lot of other folks in the northwest to reward.

Minister: HON. IRIS EVANS (Sherwood Park)
What Happens?: Iris stays in cabinet and keeps her job. She was Ed's highest profile backer and delivered for him when it counted. I suspect he'll let her continue what she started in Health.

Minister: HON. MIKE CARDINAL (Athabasca-Redwater)
What Happens?: A Dinning supporter from the rural northeast and who is likely near retirement? You do the math...

Minister: HON. TY LUND (Rocky Mountain House)
What Happens?: Same fate as Herard and Cardinal, adios Ty. His replacement will be an interesting one to watch... could be a promotion for a guy like Luke Ouellette, or it could go to its former Minister, the Doc.

Minister: HON. BARRY MCFARLAND (Little Bow)
What Happens?: This quasi-Ministry gets abolished, which is a good thing. Its Minister does too, which is very unfortunate.

Minister: HON. GEORGE VANDERBURG (Whitecourt-Ste. Anne)
What Happens?: VanderBurg took this over from Vic Doerksen when he stepped down to run. If this Ministry doesn't get abolished, I suspect it'll be given back to Doerksen to give Red Deer its cabinet seat back.

Minister: HON. GARY MAR (Calgary-MacKay)
What Happens?: Gary Mar or Ron Stevens will likely get the nod as Deputy Premier and Stelmach's reach out to Calgary/Dinning man. There are a lot of arguments for keeping Mar in cabinet, but if he's not planning to run again then Stelmach may choose not to appoint him. As for the Ministry, it COULD go to Morton if the Premier thinks he'll be constructive in his former Ministry.

Minister: HON. RON STEVENS (Calgary-Glenmore)
What Happens?: There are few lawyers in caucus, so there's a pretty good chance that Stevens could keep this job and possibly get the Deputy Premier title added on. Either way, Ron Stevens may fare the best of any Dinning supporter in caucus.

Minister: HON. ROB RENNER (Medicine Hat)
What Happens?: Both Medicine Hat MLAs are gov't members, and both supported Dinning. Renner stays in cabinet, and probably keeps this job.

Minister: HON. LUKE OUELLETTE (Innisfail-Sylvan Lake)
What Happens?: This Ministry, which was a dumb idea in the first place, will thankfully be put to rest. Even better news is that Luke Ouellette, a Stelmach backer from the beginning, will finally get to put his talents to good use with what'll likely be a big promotion.

Minister: HON. YVONNE FRITZ (Calgary-Cross)
What Happens?: This is another Ministry which could be adjusted or amalgamated, but I think Fritz stays in cabinet as the female Calgary Minister rather than Heather Forsyth.

Minister: HON. HARVEY CENAIKO (Calgary-Buffalo)
What Happens?: Harvey's a new Minister, relatively new MLA, and represents downtown Calgary. Not to mention he's the most qualified person in caucus for this position. If the Ministry remains intact, expect Minister Cenaiko to as well.

Minister: HON. DAVID COUTTS (Livingstone-Macleod)
What Happens?: A capable Minister and a genuinely nice guy, without question. However, he's another one of those fellows who backed Dinning and is near retirement. He's a SW Alberta voice in cabinet, but could be shuffled out to make room in that geographic slot for Ted Morton. This is also a Ministry that Morton could fit into, given his love of the outdoors.

So based on that, i'm predicting at least 8 vacancies. Now the 24-member cabinet will be shrunk, Premier Stelmach has already indicated that. If if drops to 20, that's 4 vacancies. If that's the case, look for the following people to join cabinet:

-RAY DANYLUK (Lac La Biche-St. Paul). No question here... he delivered almost 2500 votes in his riding for Stelmach and is a pretty new face in government as a member of the Class of 2001.

-TED MORTON (Foothills-Rockyview). Obviously. He delivered most of his second place votes and still commands a large faction of conservatives in Alberta. The "what" remains to be seen, but the "if" is certain.

-DAVE HANCOCK (Edmonton-Whitemud). Another obvious. It was an absolute shame that Dave had to resign in the first place. He will naturally regain a seat at the table.

-LYLE OBERG (Strathmore-Brooks). His role remains uncertain, but not his seat at the table. He'll be a voice from the rural south that Premier Stelmach will appreciate.

Now those four are for sure, but depending on what kind of cutting and shuffling we see, there are some other names to watch for:

-MEL KNIGHT (Grande Prairie-Smoky). Grande Prairie will need a voice at the table and Knight is the natural choice since he supported Ed. That is, of course, if Graydon does get the boot.

-HECTOR GOUDREAU (Dunvegan-Central Peace). I know there's only room for so many northerners in cabinet, but Hector is one of the smartest guys in caucus and will no doubt make the short list.

-LLOYD SNELGROVE (Vermilion-Lloydminster). Lloyd's a straight-shooting, no B.S. guy who was also an original Ed backer with big results from his riding. If there's a bigger-than-I-think swath making room for Stelmach supporters, Lloyd could easily land himself on the front bench.

-IVAN STRANG (West Yellowhead). An experienced MLA, Strang could also fill one of a number of roles around the cabinet table.

So that's my best guess at this point. Comments and discussion are welcome as we await the big day on December 15th!

Monday, December 4, 2006

Wow, what a weekend!

My apologies for the delay of this post... I flew back to Victoria early Sunday morning and slept from 10am Sunday to 7:30am Monday with only 15 minute phone call in-between.

So its Premier Ed Stelmach... who would have guessed it?

First, I think kudos are due to everyone who put their hat in the race as well as their able campaign teams. It takes a lot of dedication from a lot of people to mount a leadership bid and everyone who was involved deserves a pat on the back.

I should also take some space to congratulate my candidate, Jim Dinning. Jim is someone I am proud of and was more than happy to help in whatever capacity I could. I may not have always agreed with our campaign machine, but I was ALWAYS proud to be a supporter of my friend Jim Dinning. I am naturally dissapointed that Jim won't get the chance to be Alberta Premier, because I know what an outstanding job he would have done. Still, he's a smart and talented guy who will no doubt be successful in whatever he embarks on next.

I was very glad I made the decision to go to Edmonton on Saturday. I have often described my affiliation with PC Alberta as being like a family to me... I would have had a hard time missing such an important reunion. I also had the chance to catch up with a number of friends, including:

  • My MLA Guy Boutilier who, although unhappy with my choice of candidate and his excellent results in our home riding, was in good spirits and glad to hear about how things were going in Victoria.
  • Grande Prairie-Smoky MLA Mel Knight and his wife Diana who I always seek out at any party gathering. They are both great and sincere folks who I enjoy talking to a great deal. Mel also does some great work with PNWER, which is near and dear to my heart.
  • David Paul, Editor at Town & Country and the fellow who followed me around for a day during my 2004 CPC nomination campaign in Fort McMurray-Athabasca. It was nice to catch up with him and, apparently, get some more free press from him!
  • Linda and Gary Yargeau from Innisfail-Sylvan Lake. Linda and Gary are two of my absolute favourite people in PC Alberta... they work hard and play hard, and had every reason to on Saturday as some of Ed's earliest backers.
  • Earl, Judy, and Devin Dreeshen, also from Innisfail-Sylvan Lake and also backers of Ed. They are a rural Alberta political family if ever there was one, and they're damn fine people to boot. I thought it particularily entertaining when I found out that, like me, Devin had called Dion to win the Liberal leadership.
  • Steve Smart and Bill Almdal with whom I served on the PC Alberta Executive. Steve and Bill always have some interesting insights into what's going on.
  • Les and Liza Stelmach, Ed's eldest son and daughter-in-law. I first met Les this summer at Jim Prentice's Stampede Breakfast when he came and introduced himself as, believe it or not, a reader of this blog. He definetly has his father's friendliness, sincerety, and approachability. Spotting the trend early on, I congratulated him on what I expected to be a victory for his father.
  • Daveberta was there as an observer and looked (not-surprisingly) a bit uncomfortable in a hall full of tories. Still, it was good of him to come by and say hello and, since he gave props to me on his blog, I thought I should return the favour.

I also made some new friends on Saturday night. I was happy to be able to introduce myself to Larry Johnsrude from the Edmonton Journal who writes an excellent blog on a lot of issues du jour. I also met fellow blogger A.J. Kniles... an entertaining fellow indeed!

I also need to extend a HUGE thank you to Duncan and Allie who graciously allowed me to bunk on their couch for the time between our arrival at their home and my departure for the Edmonton Airport (roughly 3:00am to 5:49am). I've said it before and i'll say it again, they are two of the best friends this humble northerner could ask for.

So now the big story... Premier Ed Stelmach.

Ed's victory on Saturday was proof-positive that hard work, determination, and a positive message are still worth something in politics after all.

Huge credit should go to his campaign team, both the original Ed backers and the coalition that came together on the second ballot. Ken Chapman does an excellent breakdown and analysis of those who really delivered for their guy. I remember at one point, Duncan and Allie (who joined the Ed coalition along with their guy Hancock) said "do you know how hard we worked this week?" To which I replied jokingly "YES! I SEE IT EVERY TIME THAT BLOODY RESULTS BOARD IS UPDATED!"

There are a lot of questions that will be answered in the coming days and weeks:

  • Who from Ed's team will get promoted to Cabinet? And at whose expense?
  • What kind of cabinet position does Ted Morton get? And who does Ed reach out to from Jim's team?
  • Just how big is cabinet going to be, anyway?
  • What role will Deputy Premier Shirley McClellan play?
  • Now that Jim is out, who will run in the Calgary-Elbow byelection to replace Premier Klein?

I look forward to seeing who makes up the Stelmach cabinet... as I suspect some under-utilized talents in caucus will finally get a chance to shine.

So what do I think about all of this?

You'll recall that I wrote a blog-post earlier entitled "I'm glad I already have a Premier". Well folks, I am indeed glad that I have a Premier.

I have a Premier who is respected by everyone and has room for everyone's opinion around his table.

I have a Premier who has a rock-solid record of delivering results for his province.

I have a Premier who attracts new people to his party not just as passers-by, but as people who are actively engaged in the affairs of the province.

I have a Premier whose hand I have proudly shaken, whose character I admire, whose party I am absolutely and unequivocally proud to be a part of, and whom I will gladly work tirelessly to re-elect.

Folks, you bet i'm glad I have a Premier.

His name is Ed.

Friday, December 1, 2006

The Final Countdown

In just over 12 hours, I will be boarding an airplane to take me back to Alberta for the most important election in 14 years for my home province.

I'm going for two reasons, both having to do with friendship:

1. I going to help with the final push for my friend Jim Dinning.

You've heard me rant about why i've supported Dinning for months now and you know why I remain unshakeably convinced that he is the best choice to lead Alberta, so i'll spare the repetition. Suffice to say, I would have felt very uneasy about staying away from such an important race for the future of a province and a party that I hold very dear... the opportunity to come to make another contribution and to witness a piece of Alberta history was one I simply could not pass up.

2. I am coming to celebrate with my friends in the PC Party of Alberta, regardless of who they've backed and regardless of who wins.

I have mentioned here before that I consider PC Alberta to be a family to me... when you've spent as much time working for and traveling across Alberta on its behalf, its hard not to. I'm coming to Edmonton to celebrate and, perhaps, to help bury some hatchets (and, regardless of who wins, you KNOW there'll be a lot of that to be done). A wise friend of mine pointed out that the last time we tried to separate blue tories and red tories, we ended up with 13 years of corrupt Liberal government. I say that not as a lecture to any one particular campaign, because its an important message for EVERYONE in our party. I have been through enough political ups and downs, upheavals, defections and rejections to know that they're not much fun and not at all constructive in the long run.

On Sunday morning, the sun will still rise and the world will still turn. To believe otherwise would be detrimental to our party, our province, and, most importantly, our friendships.

See y'all in Edmonton!

PS. Will asked an important question that I hadn't at all considered. For the record, I am NOT coming home to try and vote. I have stated clearly, frequently, and to a number of people that I am uneligible to vote because I do not currently maintain an Alberta address and have no Alberta ID. You'll see me at Dinning HQ and at the party, but not behind a ballot box.