Alberta's Tories are holding their annual convention in Edmonton this weekend and I'm sure it will be less exiciting than last year's convention.
As the Tory convention is going on in Edmonton, the waves of discontent continue to spill out on to the front pages of the Calgary dailies as Mayor Dave Bronconnier continues his massive assault on the rural-based Tory government of Premier Ed Stelmach. On the affordable housing issue, I think Bronconnier is clearly in the right. This is a province-wide issue that requires provincial leadership, not scattered municipal projects.
Graham Thomson has some interesting commentary on how Stelmach has shot himself in the foot over the affordable housing issue:
But then some Calgary journalists began poking at Stelmach. Why was he so upset with the story of one Edmonton woman? Didn't he realize Calgary tenants have been hit by huge rent increases for months?Does this remind you of something?
That's when Stelmach unwittingly unholstered the gun and took aim at himself.
"I wasn't aware of anybody getting a $1,000 increase," he said. Bang.
The Calgary journalists were gobsmacked. They have been writing stories about Calgarians being hit by $1,000 rent increases since last August. There have been so many of those stories that journalists have stopped reporting on them and have moved on to heartbreaking tales of tenants being gouged by $2,000 a month rent hikes.
And here's Stelmach saying he's not aware of what's going on in Alberta's largest city. He tried to look compassionate but ended up looking clueless.
If Calgarians thought the new premier was too much of a northerner before, they must be thinking he's from Inuvik today.
This will only add to Stelmach's troubles in Calgary. For weeks, he's been hammered by Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier who feels betrayed by the new provincial budget. Bronconnier says there are so many strings attached to municipal grants the city is effectively hog- tied when it comes to spending money on necessary projects such as LRT expansions.
The Stelmach government, says Bronconnier, obviously doesn't understand the city's issues.
Bronconnier is wildly popular in Calgary. Stelmach is not.
Stelmach's position on affordable housing was made even more confusing when he did a complete 180 on his government's position on rent controls (See: May 3 and flip to May 5).
I don't know about you, but all this tension will sure make the upcoming by-elections in Calgary Elbow and Drumheller-Stettler interesting and leaves the opportunity open for Kevin Taft's Alberta Liberals to make more inroads into Calgary.