Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Back in the saddle

Its official.

The Albertatory hiatus is over.

My voice on this blog has been dormant for six months or so with only two exceptions. I've decided to make the exception into the rule.

I may now reside in British Columbia, but my connection to the province I love and the issues that drive its public debate remains strong. So thanks to a spirited discussion started by Will and fuelled by Larry, i'm back in the saddle.

What's new, then?

The previous post links to a great discussion that's been going on at Larry Johnsrude's blog regarding negative advertising in Alberta politics.

My contribution to the discussion along with Will's has prompted a response from fellow Johnsrude-regular Robert Gerard.

In his response, Robert suggests that I feel that Premier Stelmach should be free of scrutiny.

Au contraire, mon ami.

To suggest that ANY political leader should be absolved from scrutiny in the public eye is akin to Stephane Dion's "this is unfair!" outburst. A hearty dose of public scrutiny is something that everyone who holds an elected office should expect. Its a fundamental part of western democracy.

What William and I are suggesting is not that Premier Stelmach be given a free ride. Even if we were, its pretty obvious to any media watcher in Alberta that that ship sailed a long time ago.

What I believe we ARE suggesting, however, is that the opposition have their policies and performance subjected to the same kind of scrutiny.

For too long in Alberta, the debates between government and opposition were ignored. With a change in regime, the media and the electorate are finally paying a little more attention to the goings on at the Legislature.

The opposition has been going on the offensive and getting media coverage attacking our positions.

Its time for us as a party to take note and start firing back.

If we don't, how can we expect people to make a relatively fair comparison between competing visions for the province?

Public discourse in Alberta deserves no less.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Going neg'

There's a great little discussion going on at noisefromtheright and, subsequently, Larry Johnsrude's blog at the Journal. Its all about the idea of the Alberta PCs taking a more aggressive stand against our opponents.

Here's an excerpt of my note to Larry:

First, I think the time for firing back at Dave Bronconnier may have come and gone. Will's original post accurately reflected the situation at the time, but I think we've made some progress. The cabinet adjustment seems to have turned down the temperature in Mayor Bronco's office and i'm not sure what good it would serve to wake the proverbial sleeping dog.

The Alberta Liberals, on the other hand, are a worthwhile target. They, with the help of a few friendly media types, have had some luck in being painted as a moderate alternative. There is A LOT of ammunition for us as Alberta PCs to fire back at that notion.

But what form should it take? Government-paid political ads are obviously out. Party-paid ads are certainly within the realm of possibility and should be considered.

In the short-term, though, I think Premier Stelmach needs to identify a couple of "attack dogs" in cabinet/caucus to be at the ready whenever the Liberals make a contradictory or just plain wacky statement or proposal. This strategy has been executed wonderfully by our federal cousins through MPs like John Baird and Jason Kenney.

I agree entirely with the reader who says that the Premier should stay above the fray, as it were. But informally identifying a couple of aggressive members of caucus to correct the numerous flaws, contradictions, and inaccuracies in Alberta Liberal policy would allow us to set the record straight and regain some of the ground we may have lost over the last few months.

It would also allow us to show why the opposition just isn't up to the job and to show that we still have the energy and the passion to serve the best interests of Albertans.

Just my $0.02.