The “old boys” just got their pants pulled down–by a cracker jack plain speaking female politician.
How did she do it? By embarking on a risky political strategy–speaking the truth about the tired old self serving PC political process and promising change. Many non-PCs didn’t think she’d make it to the second round. Surely the old boys would link arms and frog march her off the political stage.
But her message of change resonated with the rest of us, we perked up and started to pay attention.*
We put aside party affiliations and asked ourselves: What’s best for Alberta? Can Alison carry this off? Here’s an idea…let’s ask her.
Citizen action groups like the Whitemud Citizens for Public Health and the PIA Seniors Task Force contacted Alison and asked for a meeting–and she showed up. She responded to their concerns about the privatization of healthcare and the lack of services for seniors. She made sense and we were prepared to give her a chance. So we plunked down $5 and bought party memberships (shudder), we fought our way past the Go Gary buses and voted for Alison as premier.
And she won!
So now comes the hard part. Alison made two concrete promises in her campaign: (1) she promised to restore the $107 million shortfall in education funding within 10 days of becoming premier and (2) she promised to hold a judicial inquiry into allegations of political interference in the healthcare system. These are actionable promises–binary to use the language of engineers–either she’ll do it or she won’t.
The non-PC’s took a gigantic leap of faith in voting for Alison. Now it’s up to Premier Redford to deliver for all Albertans.
Oh and Messrs Mar, Morton, Griffiths, Hancock, Liepert and Zwozdesky, say hello to your new boss.
*See A Distant View for a discussion of how I got there.
Last evening I turned on the Global livestream and then later went to CTV news. It was interesting to watch the election returns … ’til the end! …. and the anemic response of the Party and the press when the longshot candidate took the lead and ultimately won.
When my daughter asked me this morning about the results she asked ‘Is that good?’ to which I responded ‘Redford is the choice of other Albertans; she isn’t the one the Conservatives wanted.’ It is interesting to note that she quickly replied ‘Well, [Liberals] know what that is like.’
Simplistic but true.
We are in for an interesting time with a ‘liberal’ leader in a Conservative government (with largely external and weaker back bench government member support) and questionable solid centrist liberal opposition in the legislature.
How will the premier and her caucus stand up to the far right backroom boys who have always been in control? How about the conservative press that were so solidly behind the ‘other’ candidate?
This leader is one person; her inhouse support comes from the lesser players in the milieu of political influence management. While she is not a political neophyte, she is still a newcomer in the eyes of the “old boys’ club”.
Hmmm …… Confuscius blessed us with these ‘interesting times’! Who will be there to help make this work for this conscientious woman? She can’t do it alone. Strategic planning, tactical sensitivity and building strong alliances within the establlishment will be critical to her sustaining this success.
For those external forces that feel a sense of ownership, be careful …. remember where the internal power lies.
Bonne chances to us all!
Jane, I too worry about whether Premier Redford can carry this off for the very reasons you’ve identified. I’m sure the “good old boys” are still trying to figure out what happened, but as soon as they come up with some arcane rationalization that leaves their pride and egos intact they’ll start focusing on how to undermine Alison’s so-called liberal agenda.
The depth of old boy loyalty appears to know no bounds. Recall how viciously Ed Stelmach attacked Alison when she disagreed with him about the need for a judicial inquiry; contrast that to how he stood meekly by when Ted Morton (the Finance Minister lest we forget!) refused to deliver the budget and in so doing knocked over the domino that resulted in Ed’s resignation. Seems to me Ted’s betrayal was graver than Alison’s but you’d never know it by listening to Ed.
PS You’re daughter is one smart cookie!
I went to bed last night knowing at least Steady Eddie was gone, but was not sure if we were going to be worse off or better off. I had purposefully went out and bought a PC membership because I decided I could not sit by as an Albertan and let a bunch of “ol boys“ choose another buddy to run their little club. I saw the results of the first poll and watched as Morton and Orman lined themselves up with the perceived front runner and then watched Griffiths climb on when it dawned on me what was happening. They were going to do it to us again!
Imagine my surprise, waking up in Vancouver this morning with my wife gleefully talking about the coup. We were thrilled and spent hours over breakfast talking about the challenges Alison will have to deal with. The times…they are a changing and I hope the old guard realize this and align themselves with Alison immediately. Alison took a chance on predicting people wanted change and she was correct. If the old boys ignore that warning it is they and the PC Party itself that will face the wrath of Albertans who will rise up again, just like they did for Alison on Saturday night.
Whitemud Citizens for Public Health is a non-partisan’s citizens group. But when Gary Mar came out of the chute saying he would create a parallel health system for the well- to- do, which would poach manpower, dollars and resources from the public system that benefits everyone, we had to come out in support of Alison Redford. Doing nothing was NOT an option. And if you put this into the bigger picture, healthcare and seniors policies in Alberta (and Canada for that matter) are the bellwethers of the state of our democracy. What happens in terms of whose needs are being served, and whether ordinary peoples’ voices are heard, tell the real story about the political realities of this place we call home.
A number of media pundits claim that Mar’s loss was a shocker. One wonders on what grounds and by whom it was deemed to be a such a shock? Did no one notice how Gary sidestepped questions? Did no one notice how evasive he was in responses? Did no one notice how scripted he was? Did no one ask whose interests Gary Mar represented? Did no one remember him as health minister and that he presided over unpopular decisions regarding health care? So perhaps his handlers, his army of MLA supporters, and the party establishment never saw it coming. They should have been more observant than they were. Obviously a large number of Albertans noticed and rendered their verdict. It pays for politicians to gauge public sentiment and remember that they are there to serve in the public interest. After all, it is public tax dollars that pay their generous salaries and benefits and politicians should always keep that uppermost in mind. On the other hand, Allison Redford’s success may have been in large part due to her diligence in getting her homework done and her willingness to engage the public in what should rightfully be a regular participatory public occurrence.
Ted, you raise an interesting question when you ask whether Gary Mar’s failure to win the bid for premier was shocking–or simply inevitable. I suppose if you’re inside the “old boys” tent you become so blinded by your own rhetoric that you can’t see the landscape changing until the earthquake hits. The rest of us were reading the newspapers and watching Gary in the televised debates–it was pretty obvious that he was absolutely the wrong choice for premier. The only thing that’s “shocking” about this entire affair is that the mainstream PC’s believed Gary was the winner and were falling all over themselves to climb on to the Go Gary bus. Thanks for the insightful comments.
Roy and Elaine: Your points complement each other perfectly. Roy indicates that Albertans will no longer tolerate the status quo. Alison identified the need for change and any politician who ignores this shift in public sentiment does so at his peril. Elaine has zeroed in on the fact that the erosion of public healthcare and seniors care is symptomatic of the erosion of democracy. No wonder we crossed party lines and cast a vote for Alison…sitting this one out was not an option. Thank you both for your comments.
PS Elaine, thank you and your WCPH team for continuing to keep a spotlight on these issues. It’s hard and frustrating work but it’s paid off because WCPH and other groups will soon be discussing these issues with Premier Redford, NOT Premier Mar, and for that I am eternally grateful!
Very good and interesting comments about Alison Redford. I think it will be easy for her to deliver on her promises despite the wall that the right wing of the party is for sure going to build around her. The public is on her side and she knows it. Teachers in this province have been treated like bedbugs since the Ralph Klein era. The comments on the streets I travel is that finally we have a premier that can write, read and especially THINK. I have to agree.
Alison Redford comes across to me as a conservative of the Peter Lougheed years. It was the only time in my life where I tolerated conservatism. Peter Lougheed is an intelligent man and he had a quality very few have today, he loved Alberta more than anything else and he fought for our interests. Today’s politicians are mainly concerned with their future pensions and directorships after their time in the Legislature. They serve money interests without any shame whatsoever. That will have to end if we have any dreams of engaging people and specially those who will one day run this province and Canada. I hope I am right.
Carlos, you made an interesting link between Alison Redford’s brand of conservatism and that of Peter Lougheed. Earlier today I was reading Deborah Yedlin’s column in the Herald. She too sees similarities between the two premiers. She points out that Alison Redford, like Peter Lougheed, is a change agent. Given everyone’s dissatisfaction with the PC party I’m optimistic that Alison and her newly re-constituted cabinet will be a breath of fresh air in the musty halls under the Dome.
I think Premier Redford is off to a great start – and the key to her success may well be her ability to attract fresh young candidates. Im very optimistic so far. I’m also prepared to give her a lot of leeway – which she probably wont need. I think she is terrific! Im so proud to say she’s our premier!
I agree with you Sheila. Premier Redford and her team recognized that in order to succeed they were going to have to run her campaign differently. Ms Redford says that instead of trying to convince existing party members to vote for her, she reached out to Albertans who had become disconnected from politics or had never participated in the first place. No small task considering the animosity many non-PCs have for the PC party. But it worked. It will be interesting to see how this type of creative thinking manifests itself in her Cabinet appointments.
PS I’m reading Eats, Shoots & Leaves and am dying to put apostrophes into your contractions!