Monday, November 20, 2006

Leadership Candidate Profile - Ted Morton

Ted Morton's pictures all seem to be in black and white. As anyone who listens to Lewis Black will attest, this clearly means that Ted is evil. Let's look at his platform anyway. :)

First of all, Ted's website is a little light on policy detail, giving only "highlights" of the plan. The most detailed information I can find is in his "Platform Brochure", so I'll use that, and his speeches, as a reference in this regard.

Ted Morton is a Reformer - if he were in the U.S., there is no doubt that he'd be a true Red-State Republican. This makes him very electable in Alberta, which would probably vote Republican if it could. He's got a political pedigree that puts him in line with Manning's Reform Party, Day's Canadian Alliance, and Stephen Harper's Conservative Party. That also serves him well on the provincial stage.

Morton is a champion of the Alberta Pension Plan idea, which is a solid policy that should be adopted no matter who wins this leadership race. He also trumpets Democratic Reform, long a hot-button for Albertans, by favouring fixed election dates (which have good and bad points), and term limits for Premiers (ditto). He wants a mixed system for Health Care, which guarantees access for all, but allows certain procedures to be done at private facilities and to be paid for out-of-pocket by the patients - not a new idea, but still very controversial.

Ted's "moment of Zen" in the platform comes when he speaks of the need to protect the watershed and environment. In his current job as an MLA for an area including communities that border the Eastern Slopes, such as Bragg Creek, he has been virtually NO HELP WHATSOEVER to the groups trying to restrict logging in the Elbow River Watershed, and within Kananaskis Country.
This is a complete disconnect, and this sort of "say one thing while doing another" example sets a dangerous precedent that some voters might want to consider before taking his policy statements at face value.

In education, Ted has a good news/bad news platform. The GOOD news is that he wants decisions about when and where schools go up to be made on a local level, which makes sense (so, naturally, it doesn't happen currently). The BAD news, disguised as good news, is that he wants to throw $20 Million in scholarships around the country to attract the best and brightest students to Alberta's colleges and universities. Good news for the math whiz from P.E.I., bad news for Joe Smith's boy Johnny, who graduated with an 87% average from an Edmonton high school, but can't get into University in this province because the schools are already full, and the new premier just parachuted 2,000 geniuses into the last few spots from around the country.

Same Sex Marriage. Few topics are as divisive... you can talk to someone for 2 hours, think they're a great guy, and then they'll make a remark that they're on the other side of this debate than you are and you'll both walk away feeling like the other guy is a complete and utter fool. Ted Morton trumpets his Bill 208 for defending human rights, like the freedom to free speech, religion, or the freedom of a parent to determine a child's education. The human right that Ted Morton DOESN'T seem to take into account is the right for all people to live in dignity. He says he wants to defend the rights of all Albertans, but clearly that isn't true. Ted wants to defend the rights of MOST Albertans. The straight ones. The Christian ones. That's fine. It's not only fine, it's politically expedient. It might even work. But to present his views on this subject as "fair and balanced and wanting to reach a compromise" is just wrong. The only compromise here is that he didn't add a section to 208 requiring gays and lesbians to register with the police when they move into the neighbourhood. Like I said, in Alberta, this might even be a SELLING point of his candidacy - that's up to each voter to determine for themselves.
But in THIS one man's opinion, Ted Morton as Premier would be a sheer DISASTER for the rights of many of my friends, co-workers and associates. He's not about human rights - he's about the rights of the majority.

Ted's got a lot of good ideas. He's also got a few really, really bad ones. On the whole, I personally don't think he's the right man to lead this province, but a lot of PC Party members disagree with me, and I respect their opinions. I will say this, however... politics is more divisive and polarizing now than it has been at any time in recent history. Not just in the U.S., but we even see this in Alberta with recent movements in the past Federal Election to "Get rid of Landslide Annie at all costs" and the "Anyone but Anders" movement. For the PC Party to remain in power and preserve a majority in the Legislature, it needs the support of traditional right-of-centre voters while appealing to "soft support" in the centre and centre-left of the political spectrum. If they elect someone too far to the left as Leader, then the Alberta Alliance, perhaps with Ted Morton as its leader, will sneak in and snap up a lot of their support on the right. If they elect someone too far to the right, however, they risk losing that soft support in the centre and having voters punish them with a term, or a lifetime (in Alberta politics, you're the government for a few decades, and then you're out, forever) in the dustbin. Alberta is conservative, there's no doubt about it. But Albertans aren't all rabid right-wingers who attend regular church services. Less than half of us are, if we're going to be honest about this. Someone who appeals only to that demographic is going to find themselves in trouble when another option presents itself, which it inevitably will.

Is Ted Morton right for Albertan, and for Albertans? I don't think so. Is he right for the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta? I don't think so, either. But my vote only counts once, is one among many, and that's how it should be. I know this, though: There's no place for me in a PROGRESSIVE Conservative Party run by this man.

Ted Morton's website is

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