this blog has moved to a new address: daveberta.ca

Please update your RSS, bookmarks, and links to http://daveberta.ca.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

alberta's political moment of the decade.

With the end of the first decade of the 21st century fast approaching, now is the perfect time to reflect on the past ten years in the politics of our province.

What I would like from you are nominees for the top Albertan political moment of the decade. I will leave the category fairly broad, but similar to Calgary Grit's top Canadian political moment of the decade contest, the point is to find a good balance between what was exciting at the time and what would make it into a Alberta Social Studies textbooks 30 years from now (when the next change in government is due to happen).

You will have a few weeks to suggest nominees in the comments section or via e-mail before I put it to a vote. Nominees could include:
- Elections and by-elections (federal, provincial, and municipal)
- Important policies (i.e. royalty review, Bill 44, no debt, LRT expansion)
- Scandals and missteps (Ralph Air, Lyle Oberg being kicked out of the PC caucus, Ward 10 scandal)
- Moments that made Albertans pay attention (ie: Ralph Klein's late night visit to the Men's shelter, Ed Stelmach defeating Jim Dinning)

49 comments:

Roman said...

A pretty monotonous decade, hm? I've gotta go with Klein stepping down (more than the subsequent selection of a successor).

Anonymous said...

Ed Stelmach beating Jim Dinning in the leadership race and Linda Duncan winning in Edmonton-Strathcona.

Frankie said...

Is the Duncan win really that important? She ran a very good campaign and worked incredibly hard, but at the end of the day, it's one seat.

Anonymous said...

The peak and downfall of Ralph Klein. "Welcome to Ralph's World" and winning 74 of 83 seats in 2001 to getting only 55% support at the 2005 leadership review.

Lance said...

Linda Duncan's election is worth noting but is not the moment of the decade. How about Calgarian Stephen Harper becoming Prime Minister?

Anonymous said...

By-elections: The Liberal win in Calgary Elbow and the Alliance win in Calgary Glenmore.

Elections: Dave Bronconnier beating Bev Longstaff and Richard Magnas for Mayor of Calgary in 2001.

Policies: Bill 44.

Moment to pay attention: Ralph Klein at the Homeless Shelter. EdStelmach.ca

Christine said...

Bill 44.

Anonymous said...

With so many lame duck politicians to choose from, I'm gonna go with those dead ducks on Syncrude's tailings pond. Who would have thought that a bunch of mallards could result in such international outrage? After all, hundreds of them have been dying every year without a peep from anyone! But, the timing, just before the govt launched a $25M PR campaign to improve the province's image made international headlines on the scale of the Exxon Valdez. Even PM Harper apologized for the fowl foul-up. This moment really signaled a change in the way Alberta was perceived on the world stage and represented a turning point in provincial politics.

Anonymous said...

For the nomination for the top Albertan political moment of the decade. I would like to nominate the “Nooo Plannn” television commercial campaign, undertaken by the trade unions of Alberta in the last provincial election campaign.

Never before has such an action scared the governing establishment and created a momentum that in the beginning of the election campaign actually seemed like we might have experienced a change in government.

Beyond that, the commercials engaged Albertans’ causing them to actually talk about politics, a subject that in our common culture we don’t freely converse about.

The action by the unions caused the P.C. party of Alberta to spend a million more than what they budgeted to win the election, dwarfing the spending by other parties.

Even when the P.C’s did win they felt so insecure in their grasp on power that they felt the need to pass legislation to frustrate any campaign like this from happening again in the absence of other more compelling legitimate public interest need for such legislation.

Despite the election remaining status quo, the commercials opened up new opportunities for working together in what historically has been a fractured union movement in Alberta, and spawned more networking among other progressives in Alberta regardless of political affiliation.

The commercials also demonstrated the weakness of such campaigns, insofar that if you are going to raise an issue, you need to point to an available political alternative otherwise voters will either simply stay home, because they don’t know who to vote for, or stay with the devil they know.

The commercials were also significant in that the lack of any decent strategic planning in government is still an issue.

Frankie said...

Let me get this straight, the "Noooo Plannnnn" commercials were so successful that it resulted in a massive Tory majority?

-Harper's election as PM
-Landslide Annie finally losing
-The Alberta PC's giggling when Swan was elected as leader
-Lougheed's speaking out as a Wise Old Man of the province

Anonymous said...

Klein getting the knives. 54% at the PC AGM. Easily the biggest catalyst for change in the decade.

Anonymous said...

I'd say Stelmach getting 72 seats when people said he was going to lose.

Also the decade doesn't end in 2009.

Anonymous said...

The political moment of the decade may not be recognizable until early in the next decade. It may indeed be WAP getting their first seat and building momentum for the future. Then again, it could be as momentous as the one seat Alberta Alliance.

Christopher Spencer said...

The bumper sticker, common in the late 80s and early 90s, featured a tag line that went something like this:

"Please, God, let there be another boom. This time I promise not to piss it all away."

I nominate Ralph Bucks, those $400 cheques distributed on the premise that the good times would last forever, coupled with this year's budget deficit.

Anonymous said...

Don Iveson defeats Mike Nickel in Ward 5. First incumbent beat in a city council race in 12 years. New era of municipal politics ushered in.

Anonymous said...

I vote for when Craig Chandler repeatedly got his ass kicked in 2007 and 2008.

Scott said...

How about that time Ralph Klein threw that Liberal health policy book at that legislative page?

Just think, it was a literal form of his "Policy on the Fly!" Given the image of him losing it, it probably contributed to Klein's lackluster results in the leadership review a few weeks afterward.

Donn Lovett said...

Donn to Dusk says the death of Sheldon Chumir in ’92 changed the political landscape in Alberta so dramatically that we need to think of as momentous an event.

Politics has not been the same since with lackluster leaders and a moribund political state. So it was inevitable that Stelmach should defeat Dinning and Swann should defeat Taylor.

The point is I am hard pressed to think of a significant event in the last 10 years worth rating, but look forward to voting when your results come in.

Anonymous said...

God, I would kill for us to be looking at Premier Jim Dinning vs. Leader of the Opposition Dave Taylor right now.

Now THAT would be a political battle.

Anonymous said...

Kevin Taft becoming Premier!

calgarygrit said...

I think most of the big ones have already been mentioned. The problem is, there really hasn't been a lot of significance that's happened, outside of Stelmach's win in the 2006 leadership race (which would get my vote).

I'll also nominate Bronconnier's first win as Mayor.

Ralph Klein's musings about private health care towards the end of the 2004 federal election had huge federal implications, but not so much on Alberta, so I'll let Dave decide if that should be included or not.

calgarygrit said...

Oh, and to add, Preston Manning deciding NOT to run for PC leadership.

Gil's assaulted staffers said...

I'll bet my life savings "Anon Nov 22 3:21" was written by Gil McGowan.

Justin said...

I have to agree with the poster above who said Ralphbucks. Pumping $1.4 billion into the economy in the form of rebate cheques sums up the sort of bizarre populism that Klein mastered. It's also symbolic of the broader Alberta theme of living it up when the times are good and then feeling the after effects later (how big is the deficit this week?)

Looking back on the past 10 years, Klein was the dominant political force in Alberta, and Ralphbucks is a perfect demonstration of what people loved and scorned him for.

Mo Elsalhy said...

My vote goes to the incident when Ralph Klein threw the Liberal health care policy booklet at a Legislature Page in 2006.

http://www.canada.com/edmontonjournal/news/story.html?id=97a7e247-ec24-4e77-a047-5b5bd048b397&k=93921

I was there. I am fond of that moment because, in my opinion, it may have accelerated Klein's demise. Also, because I sold that booklet on ebay (with hundreds of signatures from Albertans decorating its 17 pages) and donated the money to the Youth Emergency Shelter Society (YESS).

Anonymous said...

How about when Wildrose staffer Steve Carter told us what he thought of ukrainians last week.

Anonymous said...

I checked what Stephen Carter wrote on Twitter.com and he doesn't mention Ukrainians at all. What's the connection? I didn't think that being unable to speak a clear sentence in public was Ukrainian trait. I know many well spoken Albertans with Ukrainian heritage.

Tony said...

Ralph Klein's retirement, push out the door was the moment of the decade. Klein dominated politics in Alberta since 1992 and his unceremonious turfing defined the decade.

Anonymous said...

Bill 44.

Anonymous said...

Watching the Liberal caucus get cut in half immediately after Taft speculated positively on his chances for becoming Premier.

Brandon J said...

//For the nomination for the top Albertan political moment of the decade. I would like to nominate the “Nooo Plannn” television commercial campaign, undertaken by the trade unions of Alberta in the last provincial election campaign.//

...for backfiring so magnificently that the result was both the NDP and Liberal Party being cut in half after the election. If the Trade Unions wanted to be effective they would have put together a far better plan and moves resources towards seats where either a Liberal or New Democrat had a chance of getting elected. What a waste of money.

If there was a great moment in Alberta it was the 2006 election where a Calgarian managed to become Prime Minister and hold down the job for more than 9 months. Not to mention the added clout Alberta now has on the national scene compared to the 90's. I'd also note Linda Duncan's win as being a high for the left in Alberta showing that such a candidate can win if they provide a viable alternative for voters.

When it comes to provincial politics, it would be the 2008 election. By all counts this should have been the Liberals chance to shine. They came off a by-election win, the Tories were alienating and creating conflict with both Edmonton and Calgary, and the Albertans were angry about how little Alberta was getting in royalty revenue, etc. Instead they wasted away their campaign and allowed the Tories to overcome them in advertising, door knocking, campaigning, etc. After the election the party once again proposes new reforms to the party and a commission to renew the Alberta Liberals. Too date I have seen no structural or policy changes within the party to make it more competitive. Thus resulting in a two way race between the WAP and PC's.

Brandon J said...

*corrected for spelling errors.

//For the nomination for the top Albertan political moment of the decade. I would like to nominate the “Nooo Plannn” television commercial campaign, undertaken by the trade unions of Alberta in the last provincial election campaign.//

...for backfiring is such a self-defeating fashion that the result was the opposition being cut in half after the election. If the Trade Unions wanted to be effective they would have put together a far better plan and moved resources towards seats where either a Liberal or New Democrat had a chance of getting elected. What a waste of money.

If there was a notable moment in Alberta it was the 2006 election when a Calgarian managed to become Prime Minister. It's shows that Alberta has added clout on the national scene and any truly "national" party would be incompetent to ignore this province. I'd also note Linda Duncan's win as being a high for the left in Alberta showing that such a candidate can win if they provide a viable alternative for voters.

When it comes to provincial politics, it would have been the 2008 election. By all counts this should have been the Liberals chance to shine. They came off a by-election win, the Tories were in conflict with both Edmonton and Calgary, and Albertans were angry about how little Alberta was getting in royalty revenue, etc. Instead they wasted away their campaign and allowed the Tories to overcome them in advertising, door knocking, campaigning, etc. After the election the party once again proposes new reforms to the party and a commission to renew the Alberta Liberals. To date I have seen no structural or policy changes within the party to make it more competitive. Thus resulting in more interest for the WRAP than the ALP.

http://www.calgaryherald.com/technology/Alberta+Liberals+irrelevant+party+strategist+admits/2130586/story.html

Alberta Altruist said...

For policy I would have to say controversial bills 44 and 50.

As for blunders it would either be Ralphs homeless shelter bit(although the comment on Belinda Stronach rated near as high)or Iris Evans and her comments on working mothers.

Anonymous said...

It's funny how short people's memories are, Bill 44 and Bill 50? really? People can only remember the past year?

Bill 11 anyone? I mean, protestors stormed the Legislative Assembly itself, people tried to jump from the gallery onto the assembly floor, Friends of Medicare told us this would be the end of civilized humanity as we knew it!

Bill 11 debate makes Bill 44 and Bill 50 look like a simple municipal bylaw, so let's keep our perspectives here people. Seriously.

Jim P.

Anonymous said...

//Gil's assaulted staffers said...
I'll bet my life savings "Anon Nov 22 3:21" was written by Gil McGowan.//

I am writer that you speak of. I can promise you that I am not Gil McGowan. I know of him but have never met him.

As for the criticisms of my nomination, forgive me but I find them very narrowly focused and not taking into account the big picture. Using the logic of some of the thoughts above is akin to not voting unless you knew you were voting a party that was going to win the election.

I await your life savings, in toonies thrown in the shallow whale pool at the West Edmonton Mall--Just kidding.

I have to remain anonymous because of my employment.

Anonymous said...

The merger of the PC and Canadian Alliance parties. No other single event was responsible for the obvious westward shift in power and influence in this country. Highway 2 is the new 401.

Lorne said...

The political moment of this decade is the near death of democracy in this province. Low voter turnout and Albertans too gutless to vote for an opposition party has decimated effective debate in the legislature and in the public arena. Added to that is a pedal to the metal(Stelmach) philosophy during good times and autopilot (Klein), that has lacked any vision for what this province could or could have looked like.

Flames fan said...

It's too early to tell the significance of Linda Duncan's win in Strathcona. On it's own, it's not earth shattering. However, if the NDP manage to build on it and win Edmonton Centre and Edmonton East in the next federal election - her win will mark the point that the NDP became the alternative to the Tories in Alberta. That still might not count as the 'moment of the decade' but it's pretty significant nonetheless.

Bill 44 is significant because it's passing will rob the PCs of any credibility when they beg us to vote strategically for them to stop the Wildrose Alliance. If the PCs are just as right wing and crazy (possibly more so) than the WRA, why should anyone hold their nose to vote for them?

Nancy McBeth's leadership of the Alberta Liberals was significant because it straddled the Liberals with a debt they hold to this day, and likely doomed them in the long run. You can point to the 2008 election as the moment they blew their chance, but the roots of their loss come from the election of McBeth as leader.

But I gotta go with Ralph getting 55% support from the PC delegates. They kicked out a once popular leader and changed the course of politics for a decade or so. I can't help but wonder if the perception that Jim Dinning was behind that vote killed his leadership chances and helped Ed Stelmach get where he is today.

Anonymous said...

Flames fan said... Nancy McBeth's leadership of the Alberta Liberals was significant because it straddled the Liberals with a debt they hold to this day, and likely doomed them in the long run...

Careful Flames fan, I hear that the ALP is on course to have their debit paid off in full possibly by next summer.

Brandon J said...

//Nancy McBeth's leadership of the Alberta Liberals was significant because it straddled the Liberals with a debt they hold to this day, and likely doomed them in the long run. You can point to the 2008 election as the moment they blew their chance, but the roots of their loss come from the election of McBeth as leader.//

True enough, but keep in mind that the Liberals were able to show some strong improvements in 2004 and had enough momentum that they could have been in much better fiscal shape.

Flames fan said...

Anon 12:16 - So what? The question is the signigicance of the event of the decade. The debt impacted the Liberals in the 2004 and 2008 elections, and everything in between, including their leadership selections (i.e. others might have run if the chances were better).

Even if you believe the Liberal spin that the debt is going down (and I don't), it doesn't impact the significance of the event for the last eight years.

Josh said...

I'm going to add my vote for Ralph Bucks. It's just such a perfect symbol of the allergy the PCs have to any sort of planning whatsoever, their prioritization of politics over governance, and their arrogance. It's everything that will be their undoing, crystallized into a single policy that is virtually perfect in its utter foolishness.

Anonymous said...

"Even if you believe the Liberal spin that the debt is going down (and I don't), it doesn't impact the significance of the event for the last eight years."

I guess we'll find out when year end financials are reported by the parties.

According to the last one, the Liberals were at $408k in debt at the end of '08 - pretty much unmoved from the $411k in debt at the end of '07.

Anonymous said...

Klein's book throwing incident doesn't even come close. 90% of Albertans wouldn't have a clue about it, and I doubt it had a big impact on Klein's demise - much bigger issues at play there. Mo Elsalhy seems to confuse his being there with it being significant.

Still need time to assess its ultimate significance, but I think Stelmach's surprise (oops) win in the PC leadership campaign takes it.

Taft's failure to take advantage of the gift (Did he really think he had a hope of winning or even big seat gains?!!!) and the emergence and potential success of Danielle Smith have to be viewed against this backdrop.

Anonymous said...

I respectfully submit reaction to the Mayerthorpe tragedy. I think Cenaiko's first interview after the events was a good example of the genuine sorrow all felt. I was really proud that politicians from all parties, fed, provincial, municipal as well as citizens in general were able to step back and reflect honestly about the reasons why Alberta is such a great place to live and be grateful of the sacrifices others make on our behalf. I think for a brief moment our politicians and citizenry reached a point of "political maturity" in the realization of what is truly important and just how lucky we all are.

Anonymous said...

Could end up coming next week. Cabinet shuffle imminent.

rc said...

Klein stepping down and the subsequent PC leadership race.

Specifically, the run-up to the second ballot was probably the first and only time in the past ten years when Albertan politics was more than a luke-warm topic.

Anonymous said...

The emergence of Ted Morton as almost-Premier is my pick. The Jim Dinning campaign wrote him off and tried to paint him into a corner but he surprised many to almost win.

Just shows you that Alberta is a LOT more right wing than a lot of people think.

Anonymous said...

The story is the fall of Ed Stelmach starting with his kicking out a democratically elected candidate like Craig Chandler.