Now almost 20% of the way through the race, what we've seen from the leaders of the major parties - and, in some cases, the media - has been nothing short of an underwhelming comedy of errors. Even the good policies are being overshadowed by blunders, on all sides of the aisle.
Be it Liberal press releases recapping events that have yet to occur, Tory promises to provide 250 ERR 100 ERR 50 new doctors, or NDP claims (since retracted) of discussions with Bill Hunter (of the Royalty Review), every party has seemingly done its very best to get down in the crouch... wait for the gun... on your marks... get set... take 2 steps forward, turn around, and trip over your own feet.
The Calgary Sun got in the act yesterday, reporting that Rod Love had endorsed a Liberal candidate (since retracted). Note to the Sun: Just because you THOUGHT you heard it on the radio, you can't report it as fact. That's lazy, even to a Blogger - and we don't even necessarily change out of our pj's before we write. But then, we're not credible, real journalists, right?
Even the leaders themselves seem unsure of the specifics of their plans... when a print-out of the policy book, or a calculator and a volunteer with Math 20 can help them out. Ed doesn't seem to know how much his policies will save the average taxpayer - a point that might interest the average taxpayer, and since there are cameras and reporters around, a point that someone might want to make sure is included in his speaking points. Kevin Taft doesn't know how long he'll put a freeze on school closures for. Brian Mason seems to think that raising oil & gas royalties by 60% would earn Alberta an additional $4 Billion per year - odd, since a sudden hike of that amount would, by most non-pharmaceutically induced estimates, result in oil & gas companies running out on Alberta like Diamond Joe Quimby on a beauty pageant winner after midnight.
Taft has gone against party orthodoxy, by suggesting that not all oil & gas companies are the same evil, monolithic Tory-lovers that Liberals speak of in scary stories around the campfire, and he's going to prove it - by gouging the OIL companies, but giving natural gas producers a break on royalties, possibly let them drill inside protected areas, and eliminate the rebate on home heating for natural gas. Right in the middle of a cold snap.
Brian Mason is still... well, Brian Mason. He wants to re-do the royalty review, all over again. But, since he's already announced he favours the Alaskan model, what's the point in the review? If you know you're going to change it, and you know what you want to change it TO, why spend money reviewing it? Probably something about working families.
Ed Stelmach is getting ROASTED in the media... kids at a high school thought he was dodgy on the issues. Moms at a daycare were singularly unimpressed with his child-care plan announcement. We're not sure when there's going to be even ONE debate, FORGET about 2 or more. Here's a little free advice, Mr. Premier: The voters don't want to hear about percentages off the tax roll, and raising of thresholds... they want to hear dollars. Those mothers yesterday wanted to hear "we're creating a thousand new day-care spaces, and here's how, and it'll cost us this. AND we're directly subsidizing $100 per month. AND we're opening up spaces to train more childcare workers. AND if you choose to raise your kid at home, we'll give you a tax break. $600 a year works out to $25 less tax per paycheque. That's $50 a month, when an average day care spot costs what, $600+ per month? No wonder those mothers were unimpressed...
Memo to the Premier's Staff: Don't take him "on the road" to make announcements unless you're 100% sure that the people who are present in the room will think the announcements are a *good* thing. You look like amateurs right now, and you're making your boss look like a fool in front of the cameras.
There's a real fear in Tory-dom that the PC's blew their wad BEFORE the election, with the pork-barrel announcements, and that with the release of the throne speech, there's nothing left to unveil. If we spend the next 23 days hearing the throne speech reiterated over and over, with nothing new, it's going to be a long, LONG 3 weeks for Tory supporters. What voters want now are the gory details... and if Ed can't provide them with details, they'll see if Kevin or Brian can.
daveberta - winner of 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Haircut on a Blogger - will be covering the race for Calgary Egmont on February 15th, as part of his coverage on races that are "up for grabs". I look forward to his insight for a couple of reasons - firstly, I'm sick of writing about Egmont, and want someone else's view. Secondly, I want to see if Dave concurs with the emails I keep receiving from the Regressive Group for Incessant Belly-achers (or whatever they're called) Kool-Aid drinkers who insist that their man is going to pull in 90% of the popular vote.
Tory insiders are suggesting that the loss of Ralph Klein is going to hurt them in Calgary, to the tune of 20% - and that's 20%, all things being equal. A stronger Liberal party, a poorly-run Tory campaign, the much-ballyhoo'd cabinet snub for Calgary (which wasn't much of a snub at all) and fall-out from the royalty changes could combine for an overall swing of 25-30% in Fortress Calgary. Seats that would be in danger if this is the case (Showing a Tory loss, or win by less than 1,000) would include (based on modified 2004 voting numbers):
- Calgary Bow
- Calgary Foothills
- Calgary McCall
- Calgary Montrose
- Calgary North West
- Calgary West
- Calgary Buffalo
- Calgary East
- Calgary Glenmore
- Calgary North Hill
- Calgary Nose Hill
Calgary, is THIS your future?
Not all that likely... but not as impossible as it seemed say, 10 years ago, either...