Here's a quick look at how campaign 2008 is shaping out in Alberta...
1. Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft released his party's plans for Alberta's two largest cities in an Edmonton Regional plan and Calgary Regional plan. Watch for the Alberta Liberals to focus on coalition building in Alberta's two largest municipalities and their regions. As the Alberta Liberals probably aren't going to gain waves of support from deep rural Tory strongholds, building an urban coalition is a smart strategy for a party looking to break Ed Stelmach's Tories' 37-year-old grip on Alberta's Legislature.
2. The Stelmach Tories have released their first TV ad with the first being on the topic of health care. Yesterday, Ed Stelmach promised to train hundreds of new doctors, nurses and health-care workers over the next four years (just in time to get rid of health care premiums).
The medical community was quick to throw in their two cents on Stelmach's health care announcement:
...according to Dr. Trevor Theman, registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, that is likely not possible: although the need is there, it would require a near-doubling of current training spending from the province and involve recruiting dozens of more people to train them - with staff to train physicians already an issue for the existing 250 spots.3. Word on the street has it that the Stelmach Tories being sticks in the mud and are holding out in negotiations for this election's Leaders' Debate. The debates would have Stelmach face Kevin Taft, Wildrose Alliance leader Paul Hinman, and ND leader Brian Mason in a live province-wide radio and televised debate. Does this mean that the Tories concerned about Stelmach's public debating skills?
"Edmonton and Calgary are already maxed out in their ability to train, and even if there were more money, it's an issue of human resources," said Theman. "You need trainers available and you need people who have clinical experience to handle that training."
In fact, the only way to achieve the province's doctor target, said Theman, would be by relying chiefly on recruitment of overseas physicians, which is already the province's principal new source of doctors.
4. The Social Credit Party has laid out their ambitious plan for Alberta:
Social Credit will be fielding 12 candidates and asking Albertans in the coming weeks to consider the only alternative to the Liberals or ruling Conservatives – Social Credit, a party with a rich history of governing the province and a party eager to rekindle a flame under the people of Alberta.5. As the Alberta Greens, Soreds, and Wildrose Alliance continue to nominate candidates across the province, the Stelmach Tories have appointed two candidates in difficult constituencies: Manmeet Bhullar in Calgary-Montrose and T.J. Keil in Edmonton-Strathcona. Bhullar was appointed after the Tories rejected the Calgary-Montrose PC Association choice-candidate Robin Leech.
6. The list of 2008 Alberta Election candidates continues to grow. If I've missed any candidates or their websites, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.