Using Alberta political measurements, 2007 was probably the most interesting year in nearly a decade. With a new Premier and shifting political winds, 2007 presented Albertans and political watchers with no shortage of entertainment and material to talk about. In no particular order, here is a short list of what Alberta politics brought forth in 2007:
Notable Ed Stelmach quotes of 2007 -
"Welcome to the Alberta Stampede"
"Mr. Suzuki's comments reflect the unproductive emotional rhetoric and personal attacks that distract from efforts to find constructive solutions."
"I wasn't aware of anybody getting a $1,000 increase"
"There's a lot of push by Quebec and Ontario to do something on interest rates, encourage the governor of the Bank of Canada to increase interest rates."
Biggest missed opportunity of 2007 - Though you'll probably hear Ed Stelmach, Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft, ND leader Brian Mason, and Alberta Alliance leader Paul Hinman claim they came out on top after this debate, no political leader or party was able to capitalize on Alberta's royalty review debate. The brass ring was there for the taking and no one grabbed it before it drifted off.
Most entertaining nomination scandal of 2007 - Craig Chandler's short-lived candidacy for the Progressive Conservatives in Calgary-Egmont.
Shifting winds of 2007 - Calgary-Elbow by-election. Alberta Liberal Craig Cheffins scooped up a win in Ralph Klein's former constituency of Calgary-Elbow in June 2007.
Most ridiculous political quote of 2007 - "I'd choke our premier." Calgary-Elbow Tory by-election candidate Brian Heninger on his working relationship with Tory Premier Ed Stelmach.
Best campaign headquaters of 2007 - Calgary-Elbow PC candidate Brian Heninger.
Most impressive MLAs of 2007- There are a number of MLAs in the Alberta Legislature that have stuck out and impressed me in their performance over the course of 2007. If I have to break it down to three MLAs, the list would include Edmonton-Rutherford MLA Rick Miller, Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman, and Edmonton-Calder MLA David Eggen.
Biggest upset of 2007 - On October 15, 2007, underdog candidate Don Iveson surprised political watchers across Alberta by defeating high-profile Councillor Mike Nickel in Edmonton City Council's Ward 5.
Best political feature articles of 2007 - I have to give credit to Darcy Henton and Jason Markusoff of the Edmonton Journal for their two-part feature article on the ridiculous amount of partisan political patronage under Alberta's 36-year old Progressive Conservative government.
Best media website of 2007 - This one easily goes to CBC Edmonton for their comprehensive website coverage of Alberta's royalty review issue. If you want information on Alberta's royalty review, this is the website for you.
Most creative use of taxpayers dollars in 2007 -
1) The Alberta Energy and Utilities Board using taxpayers dollars to hire private investegators to spy on rural landowners and their lawyers.
2) Former Alberta Ambassador to Washington D.C. Murray Smith's $105,000 bonus for quitting 6 months before his contract was to end. The contract was signed by Ed Stelmach when he was Intergovernmental Affairs Minister.
Best political names of 2007 - This is a clear tie between Calgary-Varsity Alberta Liberal MLA Harry Chase and Red Deer-South PC candidate Cal Dallas.
Least work done by a government task force in 2007 - This was a tough one because there seemed to be many provincial government task forces struck and then forgotten in 2007. Tory MLAs Cindy Ady of Calgary-Shaw and Barry McFarland of Little Bow for their $19,000 bonus for their world on the Alberta-Idaho Task Force. It was later admitted by Premier Ed Stelmach's office that:
the task force didn't do much in the end, but they had good intentions and tried to set up meetings with their American counterparts. "Can I show you a report, an agreement, a memorandum, anything? No, I can't. It just isn't there," David Sands said.Worst political showing of 2007 - This has to be a tie between the Alberta NDP and the Alberta Alliance in the Calgary-Elbow and Drumheller-Stettler by-elections. Brian Mason's NDP gained a stunning 3% and 1% in these two by-elections that were completely based on protesting Ed Stelmach and the state of affordable housing and the environment. Paul Hinman's Alberta Alliance placed a dismal fifth place in Drumheller-Stettler, which is arguably the most rural and conservative constituency in Alberta. Signs of things to come?
Most appropriate quote describing Alberta's political environment - "Money is like manure. If you spread it around, it does a lot of good; but if you pile it up in one place, it stinks like hell." - Clint Murchison
An issue that deserves more attention in 2008 - Democracy in Alberta. The unequal distribution of constituencies between urban and rural Alberta.
As of December 30, 2007, the two-thirds of Albertans who live in urban Alberta are represented by less than half of the seats in the Alberta Legislature. Rural Alberta, with one-third of Alberta's population holds the majority of seats in Alberta's Legislature. This isn't something that will change easily with the large majority of Ed Stelmach's cabinet ministers coming from those very same rural constituencies, but it is a clear and simple question of democracy and fair representation.