Nation, there are few things I love more than the ability to kick up my feet for a couple of days in May, listen to the rain, and do absolutely NOTHING.
This weekend will NOT be one of those times.
Indeed, this is one of the busiest weekends we've seen in a looooong time, as far as Alberta's political watchers are concerned.
Gary Mar is making the rounds in Cowtown, hitting Rutherford this morning to announce his municipal funding platform and opening his Calgary Campaign Office to much fanfare on this afternoon at 4:00 pm. Mar seems to have been anointed by the mainstream media as one of the front-runners to replace Ed Stelmach as PC Leader, along with Ted Morton and Alison Redford (the front-runners for PC Leader in 2006, according to the same luminaries, were eventual third-place winner Morton and runner-up Jim Dinning. They also picked Ric McIver to win Calgary's mayoral race, before picking Barb Higgins, before only begrudgingly acknowledging Naheed Nenshi's campaign in its final few weeks - so just because you read it in print, doesn't make it so. And this from a blogger who predicted 50 BQ seats in the 41st General Election.)
The Progressive Conservatives are having a major "Spring Fling" fundraiser in Calgary on Friday night to drum up funds and support for their local constituency associations in Calgary constituencies currently not represented by PC MLA's. Tickets are still available, but are said to be nearly sold out. Every declared leadership contender will be in attendance, to the best of my knowledge.
The Alberta Liberals are likewise holding a big get together in Calgary on Saturday and Sunday, billed as their Annual Convention and Special General Meeting, with the subtitle of "Politics Reimagined", to talk about where they go from here. Proposed amendments include everything from opening up leadership votes to any Albertan who "registers as a Liberal supporter" (which is, I imagine, not the same as being a party member) to moving from a "one-member, one vote" process to a "weighted delegate" process. Change is in the air, that much is for certain. This hot on the heels of yesterday's announcement by Bruce Payne of his intention to run for the party's leadership under his "87 Strong" campaign for party renewal across the entire province. It should make for an interesting meeting, to say the least. Payne joins sitting MLA's Hugh MacDonald, Laurie Blakeman and Raj Sherman as declared Liberal leadership candidates. The party will choose its new leader on September 10th in Edmonton.
The Alberta Party will be holding its Leadership Convention in Edmonton this weekend as well, with voting taking place online, via telephone, and live on Saturday. The online voting will be closely watched by politicos of all stripes, as other parties and organizations toy with internet voting as a way of improving turnout. I'll be most interested in watching to see if at any point "Kirk Schmidt" is leading the online vote, as that will be a sure sign that security is an issue. Subsequent votes will continue throughout the day if required, until a winner is declared among the 4 candidates. I have been granted Media Accreditation for this event, and will be in attendance Friday night and all day Saturday - so watch this space for interviews and updates as they become available.
No rest for the wicked... coming later: My impressions of the Alberta Party leadership candidates.