Kim who…? (You young ‘uns crack me up). Kim Campbell was the 19th prime minister of Canada. She held that auspicious office for less than 5 months before being obliterated by a Liberal landslide and taking the rest of the PC party down with her.
The trajectory of Kim Campbell and Alison Redford’s careers is eerily similar. Both were bright young lawyers who landed cabinet posts in their first terms in office. Both were Johnny-on-the-spot when their party leaders stepped down and both won the leadership race with a slim margin; Campbell with the support of half her caucus and Redford, with virtually no caucus support, on the strength of bold promises of fixed election dates, a moratorium on three major power lines projects, restoring funding to Alberta teachers and calling a public inquiry into queue jumping and physician intimidation.
This is where the political careers of Campbell and Redford start to diverge, at least momentarily. Campbell was forced to call an election soon after becoming the prime minister. Consequently she was never held to account for her pre-election promises. Redford, on the other hand, is a sitting premier. She’s enacted 6 major pieces of legislation that, in her opinion, embody every pre-election promise she’s ever made.
Really? With the exception of the promise to restore funding to the teachers, Redford’s promises lay shattered on the floor. Her refusal to call a public inquiry into physician intimidation is the most egregious example of a pre-election promise going pear-shaped.
Forget the fog of politics and what Redford says she said, what we thought she said, what she says she meant and what we hoped she meant. Look instead at what the Premier and her Health Minister actually did say in the Legislature when the Health Quality Council Report was released.
Mr Horne: “We are going to take the time…to review the recommendations in detail, and those recommendations will greatly inform the development of terms of reference for the inquiry that has been promised by the Premier”.*
Ms Redford: “…we put a plan in place in the fall, we passed [the Health Quality Council of Alberta Act] and we said that we would wait for the health quality report to ensure that we established terms of reference that made sense for the independent inquiry.”**
Got it? All eyes on the HQC report, please. The Health Quality Council spent 10 months reviewing records, conducting interviews and analysing data. They sifted through 2000 responses to the physician intimidation survey and conducted in depth interviews with 99 stakeholders on that very issue. Dr Cowell, the HQC’s CEO was pleased with the Council’s work: “It’s been a thorough exhaustive process. The HQCA is satisfied that it got to the bottom of the issues and left no material avenues unexplored.”***
This was good news given the Premier’s clear intention to rely on the report to frame the terms of reference for the public inquiry. Within days the Premier announced that a public inquiry would be called—to investigate queue jumping in the healthcare system.
What…? The HQC report set out 21 recommendations and not one of them relates to queue jumping!
How did the HQC report—which had zero recommendations addressing queue jumping and seven recommendations addressing physician intimidation—“inform” the terms of reference for the public inquiry? And most importantly did Redford just break another promise—the one where she said there would be no political interference with the public inquiry process?
Redford says, “I, in my heart, believe and know that the commitment I made last June is the commitment that we honoured this week”.**** The public knows better and this is where Alison Redford’s political career path will converge with that of Kim Campbell.
The big question is will Redford survive the coming election? Yes, but only until the next leadership convention when she’ll be stripped of her leadership role for committing the cardinal sin in politics. She’s lost all credibility. Will Redford take the PC party down with her when she falls? Not likely, but she’s inflicted serious damage to the party’s already tattered reputation and the opposition parties (if they have an ounce of political sense) will capitalize on the opportunity to build their base.
But it’s not all bad. Campbell developed a varied and interesting career outside the world of politics and I’m sure Redford will do the same. Good luck in your future endeavors Ms Redford. It’s been a slice.
*Hansard, Feb 22, 2012, p 229
**Hansard, Feb 23, 2012, p 263
***HQCA Press Release, Feb 22, 2012
****CBC News Online Mar 1, 2012
Well done, Susan! At the end of the day, they are all Tories and their agenda does not change … no matter how much Alison would like to re-write the script for the benefit of personal popularity.
Jane, in addition to the frustration over Alison’s backtracking on the health inquiry, I’m very worried about her position with respect to the public vs private delivery of healthcare. People get those concepts mixed up all the time, so when Alison says she supports the public funding of healthcare, they think that means she also supports the public delivery of healthcare, but she stays conspicuously silent on the topic. I worry that she’s just waiting for the dust to settle before she makes her move in that direction. (I know that you know all this but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to say it!) .
Well after reading your post this week I can say that, just like me, you have had enough of Alison Redford. I may be wrong but I think that most Albertans that care for the future of this province are as well. What a ride this has been. Alison Redford is not only lying but she is an obvious manipulator.
Just like her male colleagues, Alison Redford is delusional. Talk about ‘misdirecting’ the public. I have never seen such lack of class. Yes you are right that Kim Campbell went on to a very successful career but you cannot compare the two. In my opinion and from what I have seen so far Alison Redford is not in the same league. I wished she would take the PC party with her like you suggested possible. The only problem with that is that there is another lunatic in line to take over the right wing politics in Alberta. I am quite sure the show from Danielle Smith will be as bad if not worse. Interesting times indeed.
Carlos, as you could tell from the post, I have serious concerns with what I’ve seen since Alison took office. I talk to co-workers and friends and they are worried too. I sincerely hope that they will come out in droves on election night and vote for change. The tricky thing is who to vote for. There are many good candidates out there vying for our ballots. The Democratic Renewal Project is trying hard to identify the one candidate in each riding who could win if everyone just voted for him/her and didn’t split the vote. As you said … interesting times! Thanks Carlos.
Different ideas make the world go around – so thank you for putting your thoughts out for us to discuss.
I think Alison Redford is more like Peter Lougheed than Kim Campbell. She is smart, worldly and has big ideas. Im thrilled at her attention to the oilsands issues, and her advocacy for the province. If we dont get the economic issues right, there wont be any money for the things we hold dear – including the health care system we deserve.
Im very optomistic about Premier Redford – its wonderful to have a premier we can be proud of, and a smart woman to boot!
We shall see…….
Sheila, interesting point with respect to Alison’s advocacy on behalf of the province, particularly in relation to the oilsands and the role they play in our economy. I do hope she’s successful in helping Albertans develop the oilsands responsibly and in ensuring that Albertans get their fair share of royalty/tax dollars from the corporations engaged in oilsands recovery. Of course “fair” is always in the eye of the beholder so an open conversation about this would be welcome as well. Thanks for your comments Sheila…always good to hear from you, even if we don’t see eye to eye (*wink*).
The shortest term previously for an Alberta Premier was in 1935, Richard Gavin Reid, for 14 months. I sincerely hope Redford will be able to claim the title.
Richard Gavin…? You piqued my curiosity and I looked him up on Wikipedia. Poor Mr Gavin was the last member of the United Farmers of Alberta to hold office. He and his party were routed by William Aberhart and the new Social Credit party–see a theme developing here?
Midge, I know you and many others will be working very hard to unseat the PCs in the next election and I wish you luck. (Note to readers: Midge is the Alberta Party candidate for Battle River-Wainwright).
In case some readers are wondering whether this is turning into an Alberta Party blog I’d like to point out that David Swann (Liberal) and Guy Boutilier (Wildrose) have also appeared on these pages. In fact the PC party is the only party that hasn’t dropped by to share its views. Unfortunate.