Mr. Morton, whose platform includes less influence from Ottawa, is confident he has enough untapped support to win.
This from the guy who is supported by the Federal Conservative Party, the current New Government of Canada,his old Reform Party pals Harper, Day, Kenney, etc.
While he criticizes Dinning for representing the Calgary cabal that runs the PC's he himself benefits from that other Calgary Cabal, the Reformers who run the Federal Conservative party. It's two different Calgary visions competing for leadership of the PC's. One is a liberal corporate capitalist vision for Alberta and its place in Canada, the other is the Republican Neo-Con agenda of the NCC, Fraser Institute, and the fundamentalist Christian social conservatives.
But for the PC party, it is the begining of the end of its overwhelming power of the One Party State. No matter who wins the party is in entropy. On the way out. And that is something all Albertans and Canadians can be thankful for.
But the opposition Liberals are hoping this leadership vote heralds a political sea change.
"The divisions in the Tory Party have really come to the surface now," Liberal Leader Kevin Taft said yesterday. "I think there's lots of opportunity here for the Alberta Liberals."
Mr. Taft's party has 15 seats in the 83-seat legislature, compared with 62 held by the Tories.
Prof. Brownsey said the next premier could enjoy a short-lived victory.
"They can win the battle, but they can't win the war," he said, "Their supporters don't care about the next election. They're not thinking about who's electable."
Even some long-time conservatives are worried about the future of the party, particularly if Mr. Morton becomes the next premier.
"The majority of Albertans are a little right of centre, but we are not far right," said Steve West, a former Klein cabinet minister who supports Mr. Dinning, "We have to have a social conscience. Ted's campaign sells well in some parts of rural Alberta, but I don't think it sells with 80 per cent of the people."
He said Morton’s ability to garner 26% on the vote, just behind Dinning’s 30%, is “absolutely shocking.”
Brownsey said the Tories have reinvigorated the party with a one member-one vote formula, but that’s opened the door to the far right.
“I would argue that it’s a change that’s unpalatable to most of Alberta,” he said. “Albertans will have to ask themselves: ‘Do we want to be governed by someone so far to the right, so opposed to a national vision in this country who doesn’t represent the mainstream of Alberta society?’”
He predicted that if Morton wins next Saturday’s vote, which he said is a definite possibility, moderate Tories will flee the party.
“This party is really in danger of fraying at the edges, of spinning out of control,” he said. “The business community is absolutely apoplectic. Morton is absolutely not the person to represent their interests.”