The PC Party, according to Orman, has strayed from its founding principles. It doesn't handle itself the way it should. It needs saving. And Rick, after 18 years away from politics, is just the man for the job - or, so says Rick.
But who IS this Rick Orman?
A Getty loyalist, Orman was a cabinet minister in the Getty PC governments of the late 80s and early 90s. When Getty was ousted as leader, Orman ran in the subsequent campaign to replace his old mentor, and finished third behind Ralph Klein and Nancy Betkowski, whom he endorsed over Klein (Betkowski went on to contest & win the Liberal Leadership and served as Leader of the Opposition under her new married name, Nancy MacBeth). Getting out of politics after his leadership loss, Orman (who married a daughter of one of Alberta's wealthiest families) went into the energy sector, where he founded several companies and did business both domestically and internationally.
Rick takes a lot of offence over the sort of management he's seen from the PCs in recent years. So much so, in fact, that in listening to him speak you'd think he's running to be leader of an opposition party. The royalty change? Terrible idea. Deficit spending? Unacceptable, regardless of circumstance. Not keeping up with the Heritage Trust Fund? Brutal decision. He suggests intimidation of doctors is taking place. He's sure that the government is passing land use bills because they want to steal your land. And the band plays on...
Rick's campaign has been wrought with difficulties, however. He launched his campaign website prematurely, with large sections sitting empty. His social media approach was largely panned at the outset. His well-publicized reluctance to participate in public forums, calling them a "waste of time". His campaign's email foibles resulting in an automatic lock-down by Shaw's servers, and the subsequent tone-deaf response from his spokesman, who simultaneously exposed his candidate to characterizations of "elitist" and "unable to get his calls returned from major party supporters and donors". Rank-and-file party members are criticizing the Orman campaign's targeting of specific ethnic communities. Not helping matters is the fact that, for all his insistence that the 5 other candidates be held accountable for the fiscal performance of their governments, he hasn't yet been able to explain why he shouldn't be held accountable for the performance of the Getty government, which (while he was in cabinet) doubled the provincial debt and ultimately built the mess that Ralph Klein needed a chainsaw to cut his way out of in the 90s.
This is normally where I'd write about the candidate's policies. Rick, however, doesn't have policies. According to his website: "Policies hatched by a small group of people, who remain nameless behind closed doors, are no way to make laws that affect everyone". Instead, Orman offers "Vision Statements", in which he makes commitments (which read a WHOLE lot like those awful, top-down, secretly-constructed-by-shadowy-figures Policies, to this blogger's eye) and is careful to link them back to the PC Party Principles (where the "fiscal responsibility" principle was during his time in the Getty cabinet isn't immediately clear - perhaps it was on vacation?)
Among those commitments:
◦Re-focus government to support new business development, international trade, labour market planning, innovation in skills training and updating, research, product innovation and new technologies to enhance environment protection.The Long & Short Of It:
◦Repeal the Alberta Land Stewardship Act (Bill 36) Act , which needlessly sterilizes resources that generate economic growth for large and small communities throughout the province and undermines the property rights of Albertans.
◦Full disclosure of findings of Health Quality Council’s investigation into allegations of wrongdoing. Confirmed cases will be handed over to appropriate authorities for immediate action. Will appoint a Judicial Inquiry if there is reasonable doubt surrounding the thoroughness of the investigation by the Health Quality Council.
◦Negotiation of a new five-year agreement with teachers.
◦Reverse the province’s recent decision to move all lottery revenues into the General Revenue Fund. Rick will restore the Lottery Fund to its original purpose, which included funding for community enhancement projects. Rick will also support increasing the portion of lottery funds allocated to community enhancement projects and arts and culture by $100 million next April 1, 2012.
◦25% reduction in Cabinet.
◦Initiate a review of the 191 government agencies to assess continuing need.
◦In consultation with First Nations and Metis, establish a Premier’s Task Force to identify and remove barriers that are preventing the full, active and meaningful participation of First Nations and Metis in Alberta’s economy.
◦Within ninety days of being elected Premier, Rick will engage post-secondary officials in discussions to determine the most effective approach for implementing a $25,000 Alberta tax credit for graduating students from Alberta post-secondary institutions who choose to remain and work in Alberta.
Rick Orman is going to have to have sold an absolute TONNE of memberships to see his name carried forward to a second ballot. Not because of his ideas, or his background. Not because of his campaign, per se. It's because he's the only candidate who has essentially declared war on the current iteration of the PC Party. It's as though he's saying "Things are all screwed up, and every one of you is to blame for enabling these jerks". Needless to say, that tactic isn't going to win Rick a lot of love from existing members. So, if someone's going to carry Rick to victory, it simply HAS to be the people to whom he's sold memberships over the past 6 months.
Rick represents change, all right - but is it progress? Or a trip back to the Getty days?
Rick Orman campaign website
Calgary Herald profile and video for Rick Orman