Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Leadership Race That Wasn't: Alberta's Progressive Conservatives

Nation, while the Federal election has been garnering the lion's share of the attention in these parts, you could be forgiven for not realizing that there are, in fact, 3 leadership races going on on the provincial political scene in Alberta.

Or, rather, 2 leadership races going on.

The Alberta Liberals are in the process of selecting a leader to replace the outgoing Dr. David Swann, whom despite his inherent decency and palpable intelligence, never caught on with the electorate. Swann will go down in history as one of the few duly elected Leaders of the Official Opposition to never actually contest a General Election as a party leader.

The Alberta Party, likewise, is in the throes of a leadership contest, as they choose a leader to helm their fledgling party through the uncertain waters of the next General Election in Alberta, which has been predicted as taking place any time after March of 2012.

Arguably, though, the highest-profile leadership race is the one that isn't going on - at least, not officially.  The Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta, better known as the PC Party of Alberta, is the party that currently forms government in this province. Their leader, Premier Ed Stelmach, announced to much surprise in late January that he will not be seeking re-election and that he would be stepping aside as party leader once a replacement was chosen.

HOWEVER, the party won't be choosing a replacement until Ed hands a letter to the PC Association President formally informing him of his intention to resign as leader. Which won't be happening until after the spring sitting of the Legislative Assembly - after all, "the people's work" still needs doing. So...  while they don't yet know who will be leading them into the next election, the PC's still have a leader today - Ed Stelmach.

This point was reiterated in an email that was recently sent to PC Party members by the party's president, Bill Smith, when he pointed out that the party DID, in fact, have a leader, and that leader's name was Ed Stelmach. And that there was no leadership race taking place at this time. Which is technically true - and may, in fact, be having a direct impact on how much (or, more accurately, how little) public campaigning for the job we're seeing from sitting MLA's like Ted Morton, Alison Redford, Doug Griffiths and Doug Horner.

Of course, this isn't stopping Klein-era cabinet minister Gary Mar from campaigning, after having given up his job promoting Alberta to the power brokers in Washington, DC in order to come home and run for the job. And neither is it stopping speculation on the street, in the coffee shops and on the internet about who ELSE may be running for the leadership, when the party actually declares the race open (to clear up any rumours: I am 95% sure I will NOT, in fact, be running for the leadership).

This blog, of course, was born during the *last* PC leadership race, in which Ed Stelmach ascended to replace Ralph Klein with a second-ballot victory over runner-up Jim Dinning. As I did then, I shall endeavour to provide full and unbiased coverage of the candidates, their platforms, ideas, and campaigns. I have gone on the record stating that any candidate who wishes to author an article for this blog or who would submit to an interview would be provided this forum to get their message out, and (as always) I will not be endorsing anyone in this space - I imagine I'll develop a favourite, and will vote for that person, but this author respects his readers enough to let them make up their own minds.

In that vein, despite the fact that there is no PC leadership race as of this very moment, I've included below a handy list of links to information on the people who have stepped forward and declared their intentions to seek the PC leadership, when it becomes available:

In alphabetical order by surname, they are:

Doug Griffiths
Doug Horner
Gary Mar
Ted Morton
Alison Redford

I will also be covering the Alberta Party and Alberta Liberal leadership races as they develop. The open invitation for interviews or guest articles applies to candidates in those races as well.

It's an exciting time to be a political watcher in Alberta - and really, how long has it been since anyone could honestly say THAT?

- E.S.

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