Ah, the morning after. As Progressive Conservative convention delegates in Red Deer begin to experience the after-effects of last night's hospitality suites, a lot of people are probably wondering what the results of Premier Ed Stelmach's leadership review means for Alberta politics? Well, other than being lower than I had anticipated, Premier Stelmach had the support of the majority of delegates at this weekend's convention.
Boasting over 1,000 delegates, the PC Party unquestionably remains the largest partisan force in Alberta, but it also remains to be seen just how disgruntled the 22.6% of delegates who did not support Premier Stelmach are and if they will remain in the PC Party. Recent polls have shown the near 40-year governing PCs significantly dropping in public support with the Wildrose Alliance as its greatest beneficiary.
On Friday night, when answering a question from a convention delegate, Premier Stelmach told delegates that his biggest challenge isn't the economy, health care, crime, or the oilsands, but the media
"I really do feel that the policies we have are the right ones for Alberta, but it's difficult to get it through the present media that's available to us."This follows the trend that began after the third place finish by PC candidate Diane Colley-Urquhart in the recent Calgary-Glenmore by-election - the belief by Premier Stelmach's administration that they have the right message and if Albertans aren't buying it, then they just need to say it louder. It seems to me that this was a challenge that was supposed to be addressed when Premier Stelmach hired four former reporters (Paul Stanway, Tom Olsen, Mike Jenkinsen, and David Heyman) to run his communications offices in Edmonton and Calgary as he stepped into office in December 2006.
Liberals: Leader David Swann hosted his first major fundraising dinner in Calgary on Friday night. The event drew over 530 attendees, the largest number at a Calgary Liberal fundraiser in recent memory. While the ticket prices were lower than in previous years (down to $250.00 from $350.00), the Liberals have fallen into third place in recent polls and it is critical for them to rally their troops to prove that they are a relevant force in Alberta politics.
Wildrose Alliance: Supporter Ezra Levant spent a decent amount of time criticizing the PC convention yesterday via Twitter (hastag #pcagm). Levant is a supporter of Danielle Smith, is a Reform Party alumni, and has lately been a strong critic of Stelmach's PCs. Smith commented on the results in a media statement last night:
The outcome of tonight's vote was exactly what we expected, but it goes against what I am hearing across the province. Albertans are upset with this government... Tonight's decision by the Alberta PC's doesn't change a single thing that the Wildrose Party will do in the coming months. We will work hard to show Albertans that we are the alternative to the PC's and that we will give Albertans the kind of government they expect and deserve."