As has been written about numerous times over the past couple days, a group calling themselves "Albertans for Change" have released a series of attack ads aimed at Ed Stelmach in the run up to the expected February/March provincial election. I've had a number of thoughts on this topic over the last couple days.
It should be interesting to see how Albertans react to these attack ads. Albertans aren't usually exposed to such advertising in their living rooms, so is this a sign to come for the next election? It's disappointing that the two groups who seem to be behind Albertans for Change, the Alberta Federation of Labour and the Alberta Building Trades Council, didn't roll out the ads more publicly. I think this may have given some people the idea that they were trying to hide who they were (which I don't think they were).
On the subject of the ads themselves... I'm not exactly their biggest fan, but I don't think I'm their target audience. It will be interesting to see how they play out in defining Ed Stelmach as Premier (as attack ads have helped to define another political party leader). A year into his term, Ed Stelmach is still struggling to define himself and there are no shortage of Albertans (including Albertans for Change) who are racing to beat him to the punch.
On this topic, this email ended up in my inbox yesterday...
Graham Thompson's and Jason Fekete's articles in Tuesday's Edmonton Journal caught my eye. In particular I was taken by the outrage of Stelmach's spokesman Tom Olsen. He accused the ads' sponsors of "firing from the shadows" and urged them to release the full cost of their campaign and who was funding it.
In the spirit of openness that seems like a reasonable request to make.
In exchange, perhaps Mr. Olsen could give us the names of the contributors to Mr. Stelmach's leadership campaign. As Albertans recall, Mr. Stelmach promised he would divulge the names of ALL his contributors. Instead he has held back the names of 80 persons who prefer to remain anonymous. Why? Is there something to hide? Are there people on that anonymous list who received plum government appointments or contracts during Mr. Stelmach's time as Minister?
I'm not saying there are.The problem is we just don't know.
Mr. Stelmach and his public relations team work hard to create the image of an honest down-to-earth politician. Revealing the names of the mystery donors would add some much-needed substance to that image.