Friday, September 07, 2007

Mason Hits The Bricks

The party that Ezra Levant and other right wing pundits dismiss, the Alberta NDP has hit the hustings in anticipation of a November provincial election.

NDP leader campaigns in anticipation of election

Smart move. The municipal elections are this fall, but in both Edmonton and Calgary they appear to be snorefests.

Eddie Stelmach who is nicknamed Steady is doing just that steadily declining in the polls. So now he has a new nickname.

Alberta's Ed Stelmach tagged with "Mr. Dithers" moniker, low support

Political analyst Jim Lightbody says now that Albertans have gotten to know Ed Stelmach as the new premier they're ``quite unimpressed.' Lightbody says Stelmach seems like a very nice man who is in way over his head. He says the Mr. Dithers tag on Stelmach is much deserved because the premier has been indecisive on key issues, such as nuclear energy.
It was perhaps that headline that finally pushed him over the edge to actually respond to public challenges. However it was far from being decisive leadership, despite Neil Waugh's cheer leading, as the Edmonton Journal correctly points out.

In fact it exposed the rudderless government he is running. He was forced to grab the tiller to force the ship of state from the rocks of misguided policies, that should have been seen from the crows nest.

- Up in Peace River, Brenda Brochu feels like she was "blindsided" when she heard her town was selected as the proposed site of Western Canada's first nuclear power plant -- and the first to be built in decades.

"When did we ever say we wanted nuclear power here?" said Brochu, who is head of the Peace River Environmental Society.

A lot of Albertans are feeling exactly same and so they should. With little warning and almost no public discussion, Peace River residents and the rest of the province are suddenly staring at plans for a $6.2-billion privately built and operated plant proposed by Calgary-based Energy Alberta.

And all this before there's been any formal public decision that Alberta should go down the path to nuclear energy.

Premier Ed Stelmach should have consulted Albertans, developed a consensus that nuclear power was the right option, or not, with everyone fully aware of the serious issues nuclear energy raises.

Instead, there were private talks, with a handful of municipal politicians in the Peace River area keen to attract the jobs, business spinoffs and tax assessment that will come with such a massive project.

They may be elected officials, but those private talks are no substitute for the broad public discussion Albertans need to have first on whether they want to go down this road.

After all its Stelmach who has given the marching orders to his MLA's to decide if they are running or not. Unfortunately being part of the Tired Old Tory regime most of them slept through his announcement.

a growing number of government MLAs have announced they won't seek re-election under their new leader, Ed Stelmach.

The most recent retiree is Wetaskiwin-Camrose MLA LeRoy Johnson.

That means thus far seven have indicated they will step down when the election is called. That's only about 10 per cent of the government caucus.

It's not as if anyone has to widen the legislature exits to accommodate the departures.

The trouble for Ed Stelmach is unless more government MLAs quit this time around he will have to run with "Ralph's Team" for the election expected in 2008.

That's not a good thing for a premier trying to rebrand the Tory party as something new and re-energized -- not as a bunch of oldsters, some of who were first elected when Brian Mulroney was in the prime minister's chair and Toad the Wet Sprocket was in the top 40.

And who knows perhaps with Alberta's tradition of wholesale turnover and electing upstart parties, which the NDP is, well anything could happen if Stelmach calls an election this fall or next spring.

Either way Brian is right to kick off his campaign now, while the Liberals look for a new leader and new policies. Oh they aren't? Too bad.

Dynasty, Alberta-style

Since Alberta joined Confederation in 1905, only four parties have ever formed governments. When political change came, it was wholesale and the victor was a party that had never governed the province before.

Liberals, 1905-1921

Won Alberta's first election in 1905 under Alexander Rutherford. Re-elected under Mr. Rutherford in 1909 and under Arthur Sifton in 1913 and 1917.

United Farmers of Alberta, 1921-1935

Won 1921 election under leader Herbert Greenfield. Re-elected 1926 and 1930.

Social Credit, 1935-1971

Founded as Social Credit League of Alberta 1932. Won 1935 and 1940 elections under leader William Aberhart. Re-elected under successor Ernest Manning 1944, 1948, 1952, 1955, 1959, 1963, 1967.

Progressive Conservatives, 1971-present

Won 1971 election under leader Peter Lougheed, re-elected 1975, 1979, 1982 and 1986. Led by Donald Getty in 1989 and 1993, then by Ralph Klein in 1997, 2001 and 2004.

Tories to set record

On Sept. 18 the Alberta Tories will surpass the Social Credit party's 36-year record as Alberta's longest-serving government. The country's longest-serving political dynasty was the Liberal Party in Nova Scotia, which held office for 43 straight years, until 1925.

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