Well we're almost out of the gate, Alberta.
All signs are clearly pointing to an election call from Premier Stelmach next week. Conventional wisdom says that the Premier will visit the L.G. after the Speech from the Throne is delivered on February 4th. I've heard some rumblings that they may actually wait a day and allow the house to sit on the 5th in order to allow for a much-deserved tribute to former NDP Leader Pam Barrett. I really don't have a hunch one way or another as to how its going to unfold.
I do have a hunch, though, about how things are going to unfold for Kevin Taft.
Kevin launched his campaign earlier this week in front of the friendliest audience he's likely to find... a bunch of Torontonians.
He droned on about making Alberta a "western tiger", no doubt leaving many in the room to wonder what he thinks our red-hot economy has been thus far. He also tried to strike an anti-American chord by suggesting that more of Alberta's resources should be upgraded in Canada. He, of course, conveniently forgets that the new royalty framework (which the Liberals oppose) has built-in incentives for this kind of upgrading. He also conveniently forgets that, in order to spread the "oil love", we need to knock down regressive interprovincial trade barriers. To address this, the Alberta Government negotiated a successful agreement with British Columbia (TILMA) and has been promoting the negotiation of similar agreements with other provinces. Kevin Taft and the Liberals also oppose this.
(Incidentally, some Liberals have gotten so paranoid that they actually thought that the Premier was going to call the election while Kevin was off preaching to the converted in order to catch them off guard)
Anyway, Kevin Taft came home and kicked off the Liberal campaign with a rally in Edmonton today. In the Edmonton Journal's coverage, both he and a party candidate express a desire to tap into the pool of undecided voters. They apparently plan to do this by rolling out the same pledges that they've been making since the 2004 election, plus a promise to increase your utility bill. These would be the same pledges that have yet to move ANY of those undecided voters into their camp. Perhaps that would explain why the Liberals got only half the turnout they were expecting at this rally.
The theme of the Liberal campaign this election is "It's time".
I suspect that, as the campaign unfolds, Liberal supporters will agree that it's time.
Time to get a new Leader, that is.