Thursday, November 30, 2006


"3 Men… on Saturday, one of them will become Alberta’s next Premier." (insidious music) Will the losers be put to death? Listening to the music, you’d think so.

Format as follows:

  • 1 minute opening.
  • 6 Questions – put to each candidate, each of the other 2 will have 30 seconds to rebuttal. Then open to 60 seconds of free-for-all.

Ed Stelmach – "I have a common sense plan." (Ed looks MUCH more comfortable on-stage than at the first debate) We have to open this party, and government, to all Albertans. Ed is reaching out in a big-tent approach. "Look at me – I’m a uniter!" Will not disband the RCMP. Proposed Alberta Pension Plan would be a SUPPLEMENT, not a REPLACEMENT, for the CPP. "I’m the best candidate for New Albertans. I want to invite them into our party." Ed's grandparents came here in 1898. "I want everyone to feel comfortable. I’m the only candidate to make a firm commitment to municipalities. I want to give municipalities equality." $1.4 Billion on an equalized assessment, provide cities the opportunity to plan infrastructure with predictable transfer amounts. It’s been 5 years... Let’s get on with it. Seniors are in trouble with raising property taxes, cities should look into providing what relief they can (playing to the elderly vote - good politics... everyone knows that, when inspired, seniors vote in HUGE numbers compared to the general population). Ed wants to unite health professionals for the purpose of increasing productivity and efficiency. Wants value for tax dollars. "When I talk about being inclusive and thoughtful, we require courageous leadership to find a balance." Everyone in the party will be listened to. Wants to promote tolerance and respect – you can’t straight-arm anybody, and tell them “you’re not welcome here”. "I’ve been a leader. I make a decision and stick to it. Sometimes they’re not popular, but I make them. I’ll do what’s right for all Albertans." The caucus respects Ed. He says that caucus is diverse, and needs a bridge-builder. "I will always ensure that I will empower all our MLA’s to truly represent the best interests of their constituents."
"The emphasis for the past week has been on voting against something. Vote FOR something. Vote for electoral reform. I’m the best person to bridge the divide within our party, I can unite different viewpoints, I am the leader this party needs."

Ted Morton – He’s spending a lot of time telling us what Albertans want. Marriage and children are somehow related issues. Again mentions he wants to defend the rights of ALL Albertans (except the gays, right, Ted?) “Reform and Renewal” – repeated it several times. Should get some positive buzz for that theme. Ted is very proud of the Alberta Agenda letter. Much of the message has been carried to Ottawa by Stephen Harper. It was popular in Quebec. (Not NEARLY as popular as "shove equalization up your derrieres" will be) We’ll never catch up on infrastructure if we keep sending money East in equalization. By replacing the CPP with an Alberta Pension Plan, everyone born after 1971 will pay 15% less (might prove a popular option with some younger voters). "I want you to know, Jim, that even if me and my supporters aren’t welcome in your Alberta, your supporters and you are welcome in mine. I want to make everyone welcome." (sorry, did Jim say Ted and his people weren't welcome? Shuffling through papers on my desk, trying to find that quote...) A Ted Morton government will be open to all groups – the Alberta we all want. (Even the gays, Ted?) Current funding for cities sucks – I want to sit down with the mayors and negotiate a new deal for long term, stable funding. Handing over the school tax would be a bad idea. Nobody will have to pay out of pocket for health expenses. Ralph Klein himself said the Health system is unsustainable. Drops some names from the NDP who agree with his Health policies (nobody knows who those people are, Ted - this is Alberta, and they're NDP members). Let people who WANT to, buy some services. Doctors need to put in half their time in the public system. We need more doctors. 2/3rds of Albertans disagree with same sex marriage (I'd love to see that poll - notice that he's not talking about Albertans' views on forcing clergy to marry same-sex couples, he's talking about how we're 2/3rds opposed to the very concept of gay marriage. Wonder what bill comes next, in the name of the righteous majority?). "I’ll reflect the views and preferences of party members." Bill 208 brings in protection for freedom of speech, religion, and parents to control what their kids are taught. Tolerance is a 2-way street. These are mainstream views of Albertans (ARE THEY? Good strategy - a little late in the game to make the claim, though). Jim Dinning is like Chretien and Martin. We’ll listen to party members and Albertans. Ted says Ed is a good guy, then makes the worst televised move since Jonathan mutinied on Survivor, and all but threatens one of the interviewers. More on this below. "You should be proud of your defeated candidate. I respect the decisions of those who vote for others – vote for me 2nd. I respect these people. I want to reunite all conservatives in their party."
"I won’t apologize for Alberta’s success or its conservative values. Make me your number 1, and I’ll give this party and province back to you."

Jim Dinning – Wants to represent ALL of us... Urban and Rural, South and North. Jumping on a lot of priorities, spending a lot of time focused on the future (in keeping with his recent bent on future v. past). Important point on diversity, and positivity (he must keep on those points). We’ve got a chance to build alliances, and should be a model for the rest of the country. We have to make sure that everyone in the province should feel welcome to join the PC Party. "I’ve been pointing out differences in policy, not making personal attacks". (Oops… choose your words more carefully, Jim. “I’ve been avoiding making sure to avoid personal attacks”. Ummm… so, you’ve been giving tacit APPROVAL of personal attacks, then? I know it’s not what you mean, but that stutter might remind some folks of your “bosom buddy” Paul’s “I’ve been VERY clear on this [wafflewaffleditherdither]”). I want to contribute to Canada. I want new immigrants, and those who love the arts, ranchers, farmers, doctors, teachers, EVERYONE has to know they can feel comfortable in our party. Ed’s right, our cities absorb more growth than anyone. Those cities need reliable, predictable flow for the next 10, 20 years. It’ll be done by Christmas, in the banks by Budget 2007 (finally! A commitment!). We need to fund the Catholic School system. "I believe in a publicly funded health care system" (Repeated the term twice). "I ran the CHR, reduced waiting time in ER and surgery, took MRI wait-times from 203 to 60 days by reaching out to private sectors, we’ll contract competitively delivered services." (again, sounds suspiciously like a semi-detailed policy statement - where did that come from?) Seniors won’t have to pull out the VISA to pay for health care. Peace River has 40-50% vacancy rate for doctors. Ted’s plan to allow doctors to work in both systems will have those doctors running from Peace River to larger centres. "I worry when I hear the term “Family Values”. I raised 4 kids, and tried to teach tolerance and diversity. I want to lead that kind of party." While I was in government, I was education minister and treasurer, did the same thing in CHR, and in business - I can lead. I’m not a nice guy, I get the job done. "I want to be a Premier for all Albertans. There’s a voice in the government for you." "This has been an important week. Alberta’s on the verge of greatness, as a province and as a proud partner in Canada. We need safe communities and a clean environment."

"On Saturday, YOU will make a decision. What kind of Alberta do you want? I have a practical plan, and a track record for getting things done. Who do you want to speak for Alberta?"

No knock-out punches were thrown. Each participant said the right things to make their own voters more comfortable, and to ease some of the concerns other voters might have about them. I don't think anyone picked up any first place votes at anyone else's expense, but some 2nd place votes may have switched hands. Let's quickly review how each candidate did, as compared to what they NEEDED to do.

  • Ed Stelmach - came across as more comfortable, made sure to stake out a solid position on the middle ground. Did exactly what he needed to - he went the distance, and had an answer for every question. To win outright, he needed both opponents to seem like zealots in their own right, and make major blunders. Dinning really didn't, and Ted... well... Ted didn't do anything to cost himself his own voters. Let's put it that way.

  • Jim Dinning - actually gave us SOME policy, but we're still left wanting more. It's like when you're promised Prime Rib, and when the meal comes, it's Peking Duck. You're ticked because it's not what you were promised, and then you're frustrated because you know you're just going to be hungry again in an hour. Jim made the points he needed to make, about inclusion and tolerance. He didn't seem to be out to destroy Morton the Man, just the policies. At least he mentioned Ed's name without being prompted first. Seemed relatively at ease, considering he's in the political dogfight of his life.

  • Ted Morton - Teddy, Teddy... you ALMOST had us. You spent the first 35 minutes of the debate coming across as not an idealogue, not a zealot, not an angry reformer, but as someone with conservative ideas who wanted to make things better. You made us all feel much better about you, although the question begs to be asked: If, as you said on Monday, the leadership race is between you and Ed Stelmach, then why did you ignore Stelmach completely for most of the debate, and attack Dinning? Were you lying, or is Dinning actually in 3rd place in your mind, and you're just a bully, picking on the last-place guy? Ted was doing what he needed to win on Saturday - preaching a moderate message of inclusion (against all evidence to the contrary). Ted's own voters will be happy with his showing, and I think he may have been swaying some Stelmach supporters to vote for him on the 2nd ballot... and then... Fletcher Kent poses a question about Ed Stelmach's leadership qualities, citing Ted Morton as saying on Tuesday that "Premier Stelmach could be so ineffective that he'd lead the party to defeat". Ed answers. Jim answers. Ted, turning a bit red, starts dressing down the reporter, telling him he's going to "talk to him afterwards and wants a source, wants the comment withdrawn, and wants an apology". Oh, Ted... you almost had us believing you could be a moderate, level-headed administrator. But you pretty much threatened a reporter during the leadership debate, on live t.v. How is Peter Mansbridge going to react when you try to scold him like he's a 10 year-old? Probably not as calmly as Fletcher. If this is how you react when backed into a corner, how should we expect you to behave around a table at the Council of the Federation (still think that sounds like there should be seats for the Bolians, Vulcans and Andorians at the table) when confronted by Liberal and New Democrat Premiers?

    If Ted had just simply said "Fletcher, I don't believe I'm being accurately quoted, I have nothing but respect for Ed Stelmach and his leadership abilities", this would have been quickly forgotten. But by scolding a reporter on live television, Ted cemented the image of the hell-raising, quick-to-anger red-neck agitator in the minds of those who were already opposed to him. He seemed like Foghorn Leghorn with a doctoral degree in Political Science. Like I said, it likely didn't cost Ted any of his support. But it may have cost him some 2nd round votes, especially from Stelmach's camp, which is likely exactly what he was trying to avoid by denying the quote.

No knock-outs, no major swings in public opinions, and no great surprises, other than Jim Dinning apparently reads this blog, and realizes that Albertans, above all others, need to know "Where's The Beef?".

Wendy's, your cheque is in the mail.

- ES

No comments: