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Sunday, November 26, 2006

ménage à trois: jim dinning, ted morton, ed stelmach.

The results of the Alberta PC Party's internal party selection are a bit surprising. A party divided is what is apparent.

In retrospect, I clearly underestimated how much support Jim Dinning would get with 10-years of planning, 36 MLA's and the Calgary Mafia supporting him, a new hair-do, a pair of contact lens, and the control of many of the internal party mechanisms. Geez, even Paul Martin could pull it off...

Ted Morton clearly performed a little better than I had expected in a way. I knew his support was solid and committed; I just wasn't sure how large it was and how close he would be to Jim Dinning. The so-con vote showed up. The ghost of Reform is back.

Months ago I was predicting that Ed Stelmach would make second or third place in this race. And then he fell off the radar. Apparently, he must have been busy selling PC Party membership in rural Alberta. As Larry Johnsrude reports, the Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville poll results showed an Ed Stelmach-2,461 to Jim Dinning-144 split in Stelmach's riding (detailed riding-by-riding results can be found here). But even with Dave Hancock's endorsement last night, Ed Stelmach remains "Ed Who?" for many Albertans. Will Ed Stelmach stay on for the second-ballot? Will he make a deal with Ted Morton or Jim Dinning? Is Ed Stelmach the Rick Orman of the race?

Speaking of Dave Hancock's endorsement of Ed Stelmach and their Northern Alliance, it should be interesting to see if Mark Norris joins this coalition of the non-Jim-and-Ted Club. It may not be too unlikely to see Lyle Oberg endorse Ted Morton in the meantime. Victor Doerksen will probably park his votes with Morton.

But the question lies, how much support does an endorsement actually create? As this is not a delegated leadership race the members voting in this selection are not stuck in a large convention hall or hotel with a world of peer pressure pushing them around. It should be interesting to see how strong the internal campaign mechanisms of each leadership candidate's campaign are and how much of this structure will stay alive or transfer over to the endorsee.

In the time between now and the Tories second ballot next week, expect to see each of the last three old-white men standing to be promise-making and selling their $5 memberships at every street corner.

Also, while I was at the Edmonton Forum I asked a member of the PC Party Executive Committee what would happen if no candidate got more than 50% + 1 on the second ballot. She didn't have an answer. This seems like something that should be planned for...

As much as a political geek I am, I find it very concerning at how much main stream media attention the results of this internal party leadership selection are getting - the same, if not more, than an actual legitimate and franchised General Election. Many media folks and blogger-types seem to be getting these two very very different things confused.

The Alberta PC Party leadership selection is not an exercise in democracy. So don't pretend like it is.

32 comments:

Chris said...

hey Dave,

it seems unlikely that no one would recieve 50% on the second ballot as its a preferential ballot which allows people to indicate their second choice. If no one wins on their first choice on the second ballot, the candidate with the lowest amount of support's voters would be redistributed according to their second choice.

daveberta said...

Ahhh, really?

Why don't they just use preferential balloting on the first ballot? Is it so this can become a weeklong affair?

Anonymous said...

And Rod Love's stock plummets...

icerider said...

The race for the leadership of the Alberta PCs is now just that, a sprint to the finish. And after Saturday's vote, the choices have solidified somewhat.
We can either choose the candidate of the status quo, the candidate who surrounded himself with the usual well-heeled, backroom and corporate insiders who will stay the current course.
Or we can opt for the candidate of the past we never had, the candidate who curries favour only with those who thinks as he does that we should become narrow-minded, inward and isolated from the any influences he deems are dangerous or troublesome.
But there is clearly now a third option.
Ed Stelmach represents all that is good about all of Alberta and all Albertans -- rural and urban; newcomers to Wild Rose Country and those descendants of our proud pioneer heritage; those enjoying the benefits of the Alberta Advantage and those still struggling to take their place.
Ed has taken the time to look at all the issues -- economic, social and political. He knows Alberta's future promise rides not on defining winners and losers, insiders and outsiders, who's for us or against us, but rather on what unites us all in a diverse, modern province and what makes us stronger.

Anonymous said...

What is shocking is the Dion turnaround on the Nation issue.

Allie said...

I disagree with you Dave - this is democracy - even if it's not a municipal, provincial or federal election - which you seem to hold are the only true forms of democracy.

The definition of democracy on wikipedia is: "Democracy (literally "rule by the people", from the Greek demos, "people," and kratos, "rule") is a form of government for a nation state, or for an organization in which all the citizens have an equal vote or voice in shaping policy or electing government officials."

People voted. People - Albertans (and not neccessarily all conservatives either, but people who wanted to participatre and did). And they came out in droves in terrible weather. I'm a big believer in the grassroots as the beginning of true democracy. It doesn't get much more grassroots than this.

derek said...

"for an organization in which all the citizens have an equal vote or voice in shaping policy or electing government officials."

All citizens do not have an equal vote in the Tory Leadership selection. There is a $5 barrier which makes all the difference.

daveberta said...

This is an internal party leadership selection among paid members of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta, not a democracy among the 3 Million CITIZENS of Alberta.

It may mimic the democratic process, but it is not democracy.

Jim said...

Exactly right--the real democratic referendum will come whenever the next provincial election happens.

This is a pseudo-democratic appetizer. Bring on the main course for all Albertans.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, Albertan democracy is a stretch even at the best of times. Firstly, unless I stopped paying attention to census figures, there's NO WAY we have 3 million citizens eligible to vote in democratic elections of ANY sort in this province. Secondly, no matter how many we DO have eligible, more often than not, people don't bother. Likely the result of voter fatigue ("Why bother? We're just going to have to vote again for some other level of government in 6 months...") and the one-party state ("Why bother? The PC's have it in the bag - what's on t.v.?")

And lastly, the process in the event that no one of the 3 remaining candidates gets 50% + 1: This is a preferential ballot, so voters will mark their first choice, and second choice. In the event that no candidate secures 50% + 1 on the first count, the 3rd place candidate is dropped off the ballot, and that candidate's votes are re-counted, with those votes being counted towards the voter's stated SECOND preference.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the Enlightend Savage. We should just disband elections and allow everything to be decided throught the PC Party. Those enlightend 97000 Albertans must be smarter than the million or two taxpaying citizens of Alberta.

All HAIL THE $5 DEMOCRACY! HAIL TO THE LEADER!

Raisaroo said...
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Anonymous said...

Odd... I don't remember saying that... I *do* recall bemoaning the lack of democratic participation in Alberta, but I never even claimed that the leadership process was even CLOSE to democracy, let alone a replacement for it...

Raisaroo said...

I agree with Dave, this elections isn't full-blown democracy for Alberta. However, since many albertans have been endoctrinated by conservative party ideals, it is very difficult to challenge the party whether through direct criticism or trying to live a non-main stream life style. Yet, if you can't fight the party - join them. This NDP member's idealism did not prevent her from accepting a PC membership.
Cheers

Jim said...
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Jim said...
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Allie said...

So paying fees for an organization which then allots you a vote in an election or on policy direction means that it is not democratic?

Well then I guess Student Union "Elections" aren't democratic either.

Or Liberal Party Leaderships... or NDP - oh wait, they don't have NDP Leadership contests here in Alberta...

I think some people here suffer from the notion that if the "democracy" at work isn't your party or supportive of your own ideals, then it's not democracy. If you want to get technical, people (residents of Alberta/Canada who are taxpayers) also pay for the right to vote (non resident, non taxpaying members of society do not get to vote).

No one is suggesting that this is a General Election, or a replacement for a general election - but if you can't see democracy in action here in this process (even if it is internal to a party) then you are missing out.

We're not claiming to have a stronghold on democracy, yet we do have the most parcipatory democratic process to elect our leader (and our executive, and directors, and constituency boards, etc etc).

But, luckily in a free and democratic society we are all allowed our difference of opinion and our different definitions of "democracy." Too bad because of my party or perceived political allegiances that my voice is marginalized here often.

Thankfully, thats not democracy.

jon said...

It's an internal party selection among Conservatives only. It is a democratic process. But is only mimicing what real democracy is.

Michael said...

It's people like Raisaroo who make Alberta a one-party politic. After 36 years of corruption, mismanagement and everything that is wrong with conservatism in this country, there are stil people in opposition parties like her who give their own money to the PC's just to determine what face will be shown on their tv's while the Tories continue to destroy any sense of social justice in Alberta. It's appalling. How about putting that $5 to defeating Tories rather than enabling them?

tarra said...

allie - I don't know why you just can't come to the point of admiting that this is the same type of "democracy" they had in the Soviet Union.

You can chose between Conservative-hard and Conservative-light.

I'm a card carrying Conservative and I'm willing to admit it. The ALberta PC party does need me to defend it, Jim Dinning will pay enough PR rats to do it himself.

tarra said...

With corrections.

allie - I don't know why you just can't come to the point of admiting that this is the same type of "democracy" they had in the Soviet Union.

You can chose between Conservative-hard and Conservative-light.

I'm a card carrying Conservative and I'm willing to admit it. The ALberta PC party DOES NOT need me to defend it, Jim Dinning will pay enough PR rats to do it himself.

Anonymous said...

Jim Dinning = Paul Martin
Ed Stelmach = Harry Strom
Ted Morton = Stephen Harper

There's only one choice.

That's why I'm STILL Supportin' Morton!

josh mcgregor said...

I voted for Hancock yesterday in Edmonton Whitemud.

Not voting next weekend.

Hancock was the closest thing I could stomach in the conservatives.

I don't even vote for him in the regular elections ("real" elections I guess).

Disappointing.

c-lo said...

This is an internal party leadership selection among paid members of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta, not a democracy among the 3 Million CITIZENS of Alberta.

It may mimic the democratic process, but it is not democracy.


You have to explain that Dave. Is electing a leader for the liberal party of Canada not democratic? This is the democratic process for the PCs governance structure. As such, the PC party is democratic and its governance is a democracy. The byproduct, of course, for this decision is that there will be a new Premier and possibly one that is already sitting in the Legislature. Therefore, I see nothing that is not democratic involved here.

On that basis your statement is completely false.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

C-lo, The LIberals leadership delegation is an even less of a democratic process than the PC's leaderhsip selection. At least the Tories selection only costs $5 to be a special member in, the Federal Liberals charge $10, plus $400 in delegate fees, plus all your travel charges in order to fly to Montreal.

That is democracy for the elite. Democracy for the wealthy.

Whether it's $5 or $1500, you can't put a price on participation in democracy.

interlocutor said...

The issue isn't whether the Tory party leadership process is democratic or not (it is -- for the CONSTITUENCY, which in this case is lawful Tory party members).

The issue is whether in fact the Tory leadership election is as good as democracy gets in this province, and the profoundly alienating fear held by so many of us that this is indeed the only vote that matters.

Having been told over and over, by Tories and non-Tories alike, for the last several months: "Yes, this is the most important vote in Alberta for the next decade," I'm inclined to say that the popular, civil democracy has been effectively superseded by a seductive proxy: the superficially democratic vote of confidence in the one party state.

Anonymous said...

This election is a farce.

If the Conservatives wanted true democracy, they would call a general election immediately after selecting a new leader, and let the voters decide.

It is ridiculous to expect people to pony up $5 - fifty dollars or fifty cents, it doesn't matter the amount - to plump up party coiffers. As a Liberal and a believer in democracy, I vote in every election. I did not vote in this one - I refuse to purchase a party membership in a party I oppose, I refuse to endorse the party in any way, and I refuse to participate in a mockery of democracy

As an Albertan I am deeply offended by the way that memberships have been sold during this election - when the ATA promotes members to purchase Conservative memberships to influence the vote, and when trade unions purchase 10,000 memberships (that's $50,000 donation to the Conservative Party - circumveting regular political donation rules) - I have a problem.

This is not an election, it is a dog and pony show that smacks of patronage and purchased votes. It is not governed by any rules that we would expect in an election - sale of memberships by partisan members within the building where voting is taken place, free dinners and bribes, the presence of partisan MLAs "supervising" the voter. Uh. Huh. Why don't we just go to a computerized voting system that can be "fixed" without the obvious goons and partisan control over the election results?

So please, let's not pretend this election is democractic, it just boldly shows that Alberta is fast becoming a single party state.

Liberal and Proud in Alberta!

The Real Chris said...

I agree it was unethical for non-conservatives (ie. the ATA) to buy memberships to support Hancock, Dinning, or whomever. You didn't see me buying a Liberal membership to try to interfere in the Grit leadership race.

That said, the Alberta PC vote is being ran within the rules set out by the party, and the winner will become Premier in accordance with the rules of our Constitution (albeit through convention). I will say this: one member one vote is infinitely more grassroots and democratic than a delegated leadership.

Anonymous said...

"unethical for non-conservatives to buy memberships", say what?

The winner of this is not just the new Grit leader, he will be the premier of Alberta... for a while anyway.

I'm a citizen of Alberta, don't tell me it is unethical for me to vote for my Premier!

Jim said...

The ethics of it get a lot cloudier when members of the party apparatus actually encourage "non-traditional" party members to buy a membership and vote, but still... you can pry my Alberta Liberal membership card out of my cold dead fingers before you see me voting in the Tory leadership race.

Raisaroo said...

Michael asked me to respond to his post:
“It’s people like Raisaroo who make Alberta a one-party politic. After 36 years of corruption, mismanagement and everything that is wrong with conservatism in this country, there are stil people in opposition parties like her who give their own money to the PC's just to determine what face will be shown on their tv's while the Tories continue to destroy any sense of social justice in Alberta. It's appalling. How about putting that $5 to defeating Tories rather than enabling them? “

I will oblige him with a rather lengthy reply.

First I wish to clarify that I didn’t put my personal money to buy a PC membership, and what if I did? It isn’t people like me that make Alberta a one-party government. I do my share in supporting Alberta’s opposition parties with my time and money. I have heated debates with conservatives and spend time convincing disillusioned non-PCs to vote rather than become apathetic. The reason Alberta is a one-party government is because most Albertans ARE CONSERVATIVE, regardless of how the constituencies are divided.

Yet I am not a believer in hard party lines. Conservatives wish to make “better” Alberta like I do, they simply have different views on what is a “better” Alberta and how to achieve a “better” Alberta. The Conservative Party isn’t fully united in their world view, as such certain Conservative MLA’s have principles that have more overlap with my own than maybe one of their fellow party MLAs. I would like the former MLA’s to have a stronger voice within the PC. Moreover, parties evolve, and the Alberta conservatives are not immune to evolution. I would challenge the “liberals” party members if they would still support their beloved party if it did a 180 like Tony Blair’s Labour Party in Britain. My allegiance isn’t to parties but to realistic principles. None of the present PC candidates clearly support those principles, but some will clearly endanger their meager existence in Alberta. I wish to do my part in protecting those principles, even if it involves voting for the lessor of two evils.

My second argument for my decision to vote in this election is that leaders have a huge influence on the direction the party will take and what it will invest its time and money in. In this case the party leader will also become the premier of the province. Let’s not underestimate the power he will wield: he will get to chose which MLAs will be part of the caucus, which MLAs will be responsible for key government portfolios. This leader will direct where Alberta’s funds will be invested and where they won’t be invested. These funds are not the sole property of Conservative minded Albertans, they belong to all Albertans regardless of party line or the lack of interest in politics.

I agree this is not a general election, but it is an election that will affect all Albertans. As such I will pay 5$ to participate and do my part in making sure the PC, and thus Alberta for the time being, isn’t lead by someone who would rather put time and money making sure minorities don’t get certain rights (e.g. homosexuals) than investing in things that benefit all Albertans (e.g. education and health-care).