this blog has moved to a new address:

Please update your RSS, bookmarks, and links to

Monday, April 16, 2007

change in the midst of heady economic times.

I'm out of town right now, but I thought I'd post this exerpt from Don Martin's column in today's National Post... Alberta Liberals see hope of dethroning Tories

Convincing Albertans to sweep out the Conservatives after 10 majority governments, in the midst of heady economic times, may sound excessively ambitious. But talking to Mr. Taft, now marking his third anniversary as leader,
the possibility seems less remote.

Ralph Klein counted on strong support from two of either Calgary, Edmonton or rural Alberta for a safe re-election. But the Liberals' Edmonton stronghold is being bolstered by gains in Calgary and rising support in the rural south.

"When I became leader three years ago, the Alberta Liberal Party was a train wreck," admits Mr. Taft. "It was financially bankrupt, and there was almost no functioning organization. It's always an uphill climb for the opposition in Alberta, but I have no doubt we're climbing and we'll continue to climb. It's quite exhilarating."

It should be noted that Mr. Taft is several logs short of great oratorical fire, but he's got Mr. Stelmach beat in articulately synthesizing ideas, and his policy perspectives sound more visionary and cosmopolitan.

"We are at a crossroads. If we get it right, it's unbelievable what we could do for Alberta and this country and in some ways the world. We need to build a place where people want to come here for more than a job but a quality of life," he says.

"But look at the ghost towns from the silver rush in B.C. or those from Saskatchewan in 1926 when that province had the highest per capita income on the planet because of the wheat boom.

That's our future if we get it wrong.

"And there's a real risk we'll get it wrong if we don't change government."

Such talk doesn't seem to preoccupy Ed Stelmach, who is still finding it hard to believe he landed the best job in Canadian politics.

"To be the CEO of the province of Alberta at a time with so much potential ..." he pauses to search for words "... sometimes when I put my head on my pillow at night I want to pinch myself."

Well, he'd best not fall asleep on the job. That Albertans are waking up and warming to the possibility of electing a non-Conservative government is perhaps the most jarring consequence in the transition from King Ralph to Honest Ed.

Also, this was a fun story.


Anonymous said...

We are gaining in the Rural South? I know are gaining in Calgary. I thought it was the Rural North. Good old Alberta, never ceases to amaze me.

uriel said...

A story ghost written by Don Martin's best friend-- Rod Love. Taft is at 20% and he is stuck there. If you think the Alberta Liberals are going to win an election in Alberta, you are dreaming in technicolor.

Anonymous said...

Uriel, I seem to remember people saying the same thing about Stephen Harper, and Ed Stelmach, and Stephane Dion, and the list goes on.

I hope the tories stay stagnant, comfortable, and confident in their god given right to hold power in Alberta, it will make it all the more easy to topple them.

Raymaker said...

Martin was probably wasted.

uriel said...

Anonymous 6:47 pm

Stay tuned for April 19, budget day.

uriel said...

Anonymous 6:47

Ken Nicol, Nancy MacBeth, Grant Mitchell, Nick Taylor, Bob Russell, John Lowery, Adrain Berry, Michael Maccaggno, David Hunter, Grant MacEwan, Harper Prowse...Do you want me to go on? The only Liberal leader who had anything close to electoral success was Laurence Decore and he was a conservative in many respects.

Anonymous said...

Edward Michener, George Hoadley, James Ramsey, Albert Ewing, Alexander McGillivray, David Milwyn Duggan, John Percy Page, Cam Kirby, Ernest Watkins, Milt Harradance were all Conservative party leaders who couldn't do it.

If Tories would have Albertans believe the myth of Alberta Dynasties, then Ed Stelmach (the fourth leader) is on borrowed time. Every other dynasty only had three leaders.

That said, Albertans will decide. It's a choice between an old rural-based Tory party of the 20th century and a new progressive Liberal voice for the 21st century.

Anonymous said...


I remember my old die-in-the-wool Socred uncle telling me the same thing about Peter Lougheed in 1971.

The more things change...

uriel said...

Anonymous 6:59 pm:

You are comparing Kevin Taft to Peter Lougheed! I would suggest that you read more about Peter Lougheed. Allan Hustak's book would be a good start. Kevin Taft is not in the same league as Peter Lougheed intellectually or charismatically. He's not even in the same league.

uriel said...


You need to do more reading about Alberta political history. Henry Wise Wood, an extremely charismatic leader led the UFA into the 1921 election and won. William Aberhart, another extremely charismatic leader led the Social Credit into the 1935 election and won. Peter Lougheed, another extremely charismatic leader led the PC Party into the 1971 election and won. These leader all captured the voters imagination and established a personal connection with the people.

In your heart of hearts, do you really think someone like Kevin Taft has the charisma and the same personal connection to the people that Wise Wood, Aberhart, and Lougheed did.

If ideas won elections in Alberta. Laurence Decore would have become Premier in 1993.

Charisma is what counts. Stelmach and Taft are probably equal on that count, but Stelmach comes across as much more personable than Taft, who comes across as elitist and distant. Stelmach is more in touch with people and that is what will determine who wins the next election

James L. said...

Charisma is what counts. Stelmach and Taft are probably equal on that count, but Stelmach comes across as much more personable than Taft, who comes across as elitist and distant. Stelmach is more in touch with people and that is what will determine who wins the next election

Nice way of bridging what you believe "seems" to be perceived and what you believe "is" true.

I find it hard to swallow that Ed Stelmach is any more "in touch" with "the people" than Kevin Taft. At least Taft charges a lower fee for his fundraisers.

Anonymous said...

james I.,

I would think that Stelmach's life experience would make that claim pretty easy to swallow. Not to take anything away from Mr. Taft, but Stelmach has been (not necessarily in order) a retail sales manager, a farmer, a health board member, a county reeve, etc. and has lived in both urban and rural locales. So it would seem to me that he would have a life experience more in tune with the "average" Albertan than a bureaucrat-turned-elected-official (not that there is anything wrong with those occupations).

With respect to fundraising, I suppose the adage "charge what the market will bear" applies. That it would appear people are willing to pay more to see one [Stelmach] than the other [Taft]. Stephane Dion (federally) goes for $500 a plate, in case you are looking for comparables. You could see Stelmach for $500, or you could see him for free at his constituency offices (he has two due to the geogrpahic size of his riding - one in Vegreville, one in Ft. Sask). I've been to fundraiser with ticket prices much closer to free than to $500; depends on location.

uriel said...

James I

How many people showed up at Taft fundraiser as compared to Stelmach's? How much money do the Tories have in the kitty compared to the Liberals. Check the numbers and then get back to me.

James L. said...

I would hardly think that the typical attendees to high-priced Tory funraisers are a good cross-section of "the people" of Alberta, Uriel. And, yes, I'd say similar things about the attendees of Alberta Liberal fundraisers.