by David J. Climenhaga
After the voting ends at 7 p.m. tomorrow, Tory party brass should quickly count the first-round ballots in the Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership race – which may be why things feel around here like a surround-sound version of a TV reality show nowadays.
Only now, instead of America’s Next Top Model or whatever, it’s Alberta’s Next Top Premier, and everybody’s wondering which one of the contestants will have to pack up his (or her) stuff and leave the show forever Sunday morning – presumably after a round of tearful hugs and promises to really, really, really work on that modelling (political) career back in Wichita (Calgary).
Only one, you say! What’s this guy talking about? There’s three of them headed for oblivion!
Not really. Two of the candidates have already reached that destination – they just don’t know it yet. Face it, people, there’s no suspense about the fates of Rick Orman and Doug Griffiths. At best, they were never more than long shots and by the we hours of Sunday at the latest, that assessment should have been confirmed.
There were always only four serious candidates – in alphabetical order by last name, Doug Horner, Gary Mar, Ted Morton and Alison Redford – and tomorrow one of them is going to be voted off the island. (The possibility of any one of them getting more than 50 per cent of the votes on the first ballot is almost as slim as Mr. Orman or Mr. Griffiths making it to the second.) Those are the rules as set by the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta.
And notwithstanding the continual left-right chatter of the pundits throughout the campaign, not much really separates any of these four – at least if you believe what they’ve been saying these past few weeks.
So, any bets? Not this blogger. Among those four, I call it too close to call.
And don’t even think about using the only available opinion poll of party members as a tipsheet – it turns out the whole thing’s a load of hooey that’s left egg on the faces of the pollster, the media and the Conservative Party nomenklatura.
Well, at least we get to see Postmedia’s true colours. Faced with a scandal of their own making for trying to engineer an advantage for their favourite candidate and a good horserace story at the same time, they have nothing to say “for journalistic reasons.” Good one! The next premier can keep that in mind the next time the pot starts calling the kettle black! It got so bad that even the normally sleazy Calgary Sun called them out on it!
Just hold on another day, they’re no doubt mumbling at the Calgary Herald’s morning news meeting as you read this, and after tomorrow they’ll forget all about where that bloody list came from! About that, unfortunately, they’re probably right.
After the first ballot, of course, there’s only one more week of suspense before Alberta’s Idol is picked and we move swiftly to an election before Alberta’s electorate cottons on to what’s happening.
And after that, in turn, Alberta’s most exciting political season in a generation will be all but over as the winner cruises to an easy and not very engaging 12th straight Tory majority and is swiftly and safely ensconced back in the Legislative Building that overlooks the mighty North Saskatchewan River.
Indeed, at the point, about the only suspense will be which of the two largest Opposition parties – the Alberta Liberals under the erratic Raj Sherman or the Wildrose Party under Fraser Institute apparatchik Danielle Smith – will implode first!
The speed of these two parties’ collapse will depend a little, of course, on whether either of them manages to elect anybody to the Legislature. If they do, they could linger for a little while, before they are absorbed into other parties or simply drop to the ground like the autumn leaves outside.
My money is on the Wildrosers falling first. These right-wing Tories, naturally enough, will swiftly gravitate back to their natural home with the Alberta Conservatives, with or without the provincial Tories’ current “Progressive” moniker.
Alberta conservatives of any stripe will find the Opposition benches uncongenial, and – as the publicly paid right-wing bloviator and estranged prime ministerial pal Tom Flanagan pointed out on the radio just this morning – they’ve already served their purpose by getting rid of Premier Ed Stelmach, who dared to try to raise petroleum royalties.
As for the Liberals, any who remain with seats in the House, one imagines, will swiftly separate themselves from their leader, then tear themselves apart in meaningless internal squabbles. All the while, they will be invoking the name of Laurence Decore and vowing to be back, bigger and better than ever. Those who lose their seats will quietly retire.
Then there are Alberta’s other opposition parties, the Alberta Party and the New Democrats.
According to one recent poll, the former is polling three percentage points above the Communist Party – within the margin of error!
It seems safe to conclude that the Alberta Party will soon official concede that it is this province’s answer to the Theosophical Society and get back to doing what it does really well – organizing after-church coffee parties.
As for the NDP, well, pardon me, but someone has to be in opposition, even in Alberta!
Notwithstanding the inevitably furious yowls of the enRajed Shermanites that I’m just a Knee-Dipper willing to curtsey to any perfidy to benefit my party – that’s the role the Alberta New Democrats may be doomed to play starting in the 41st year of the Tory dynasty.
Well, as Tommy Douglas is reputed to have said, the first thing we have to do is get rid of the Liberals. After that, as Tommy didn’t say – but would have, had he stuck around long enough to see them – the Wildrosers need to go too.
These are rare sentiments on which good Tories and New Democrats can agree as we sit down to contemplate whether that orange glow in the eastern sky will stick around after the morning mist clears.