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.