Alison Redford’s Fall From Grace

Alison Redford’s political career started with such promise.  She differentiated herself from her running mates in the PC leadership race with a clarion call for authentic leadership (openness, accountability and transparency).  However today she hit a (yet another) sour note with her ringing endorsement of chronyism—she strongly supports the appointment of the former agriculture minister, Evan Berger, to the position of senior advisor to the deputy minister of agriculture.

What may not be readily apparent (but will become crystal clear after the 2013 PC leadership review) is that Redford’s public fall from grace has been mirrored by her personal fall from grace within the PC party itself.  The muted signals of dissatisfaction have become more audible over the last few months:

  • Ron Liepert and Don Getty publicly scolded Ms Redford for mishandling the Northern Gateway pipeline dispute with the BC premier, suggesting that a reasonable premier would have found a way to talk through their differences.
  • Rod Love, former EA to Premier Klein, all but called Ms Redford naive for expecting to reach a consensus on her Canadian energy strategy at the last premiers’ meeting.
  • Bill Smith, president of the PC party, announced he will not seek re-election at the PC AGM this November.  While he speaks highly of Ms Redford, he concluded his farewell note with a call for cautious change.  The PC constitution, including the leadership review process, is under review at the November AGM.  If the PCs amend the process to eliminate the possibility that the underdog can win, we should expect to see a serious challenge to Ms Redford’s leadership in 2013.

But it’s not just the PC old guard who’ve lost faith in Ms Redford (assuming that they ever had it in the first place).  The oil and gas industry which fuels Alberta’s economy is, to say the least, disgruntled.

  • In a letter to the Calgary Herald, Doug Black, president of the Energy Policy Institute of Canada (EPIC), a consortium of industry leaders in the oil, natural gas, power and pipeline business, agreed with columnist Deborah Yedlin that the last thing Alberta needs is another energy strategy.* (Mr Black is a long time PC member and a respected member of the Alberta establishment).  Not surprisingly EPIC has created its own energy strategy and is about to roll it out to the federal and provincial governments.
  •  Oilweek editor, Dale Lunan, complained that ”nobody has outlined exactly what a national energy strategy would look like”**and asked his readers whether they believed that Canada needs a nation energy strategy—over 75% of those who responded said “no”.

Over the last 12 months Ms Redford has demonstrated that she’s not one of the guys—a real PC.  She started by banishing party favorite Gary Mar to Asia and then reporting him to the ethics committee for an alleged violation (of which he was subsequently cleared).  She created an incomprehensible Canadian energy policy that has been criticized by everyone from the Prime Minister to the industry it was meant to serve.  Her dust up with Christy Clark threatened to trigger a constitutional crisis and added to the turmoil surrounding the Northern Gateway pipeline.

Put it all together and the last 12 months have not advanced Alberta from an industry perspective, which as we all know, shapes the PC party perspective.

Ms Redford’s belated support for the Berger appointment is simply background noise.  Sure it may be the last straw for the hapless voters who elected Ms Redford to save them from a Wildrose majority, but it’s utterly irrelevant in the minds of the PC old guard.

Ms Redford’s failure to cleave to the “old guard” mentality (government listens to industry, not the other way around) and her refusal early on to “play along to get along” may well result in her being shown the door in 2013.  And at this late stage, no amount of lip service to “authentic leadership” will save her.

*Calgary Herald Aug 13, 2012, A9

**Oilweek August 2012, P7  

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10 Responses to Alison Redford’s Fall From Grace

  1. Carlos Beca says:

    Unfortunately I have a feeling that Alison Redford is moving in the direction of disaster. Everything indicates she will be the worst premier ever in Alberta. This in a time when good policy is crucial for the future of this province. Her atittude towards Christy Clark was childish and they looked like teenagers arguing for the same boyfriend in school. It is also very unfortunate for the future of women in politics in Alberta.

    A national energy strategy would in my opinion be something that could be of interest but the problem is that Alison Redford does not have any strategy at all. She probably heard it in the Bitterberg meeting and picked up on it.

    As an Albertan I have this feeling that somehow the government went on an extended vacation. There is no direction, no vision other than the old ‘stay in power at all cost’ and there is no hope that at least the emergency room problem could be solved.

    Reviews and more reviews that have no teeth and have no purpose is the policy so far.

    • Ms Redford told The National (the Canadian Bar Association magazine) that it’s the duty of politicians to reach out to their constituents and consult with them; to engage in a dynamic face-to-face conversation and not to be afraid of political debate. But neither she nor her ministers consulted ordinary Albertans about her Canadian Energy Strategy. The fact that EPIC and the Oilweek survey show little or no support from industry makes you wonder if she consulted with anyone at all!

      Thanks for your comments Carlos, I think the Tyee article you recommended in your comments on the last blog post fits this case as well.

  2. I’m not totally unhappy the Oil & Gas lobby isn’t happy with Ms Redford. I am one of the 25% who thinks Canada badly needs an effective energy strategy to address the plethora of energy-related questions coming at us one after another. To have no strategy is a complete abrogation of governmental responsibility. Yet Ms Redford’s hodge-podge of ideas just doesn’t make sense to me and largely seems to be made up of exporting bitumen.

    Sadly, however, I don’t think most Albertans are noticing her slip ups, unless they are directly affected by them. Progressives are largely relieved we have Alison Redford rather than Danielle Smith… and that seems to be giving her a heck of a lot of leeway.

    The political pervert in me would dearly love to see the PCs come unglued over Ms Redford’s leadership, but I can’t see it happening. She won them another large majority. The old boys lost control. The only way I see a fight for the PCs’ core is if Ms Redford decides before too long that her real goal is in federal politics and leaves to do that. Then the old boys and oil and gas lobby will come out of the woodwork and the fight will be on.


  3. Will, it’s possible I’m giving the old boys too much credit here. I agree that they were put back on their heels when Alison swept in with a majority win, however I think they realize the win wasn’t so much a vote for Alison as a vote against Danielle Smith. Then Alison unveiled her hodge-podge (good description Will) Canadian Energy Strategy that industry doesn’t support and has spooked a lot of people with her over-the-top reaction to Christy Clark’s 5 conditions. I think the old boys are quietly gathering support and will propose an alternate leadership candidate for the 2013 leadership review.

    Having said all that I’ve been wrong before. I didn’t think Alison would get back with a majority (I underestimated the WR scare factor by a mile) so who knows. One way or another the other parties need to use this situation to their own advantage!

  4. Premier Redford has fallen from grace?

    Doug Black — senator-in-waiting piles up $28,000 in expenses in a year and half as chair of U of C board.

    Rod Love — is this the same Rod Love who spent election night at Wildrose headquarters, announced before any votes they would form a majority and then skulked back into the background.

    Looks to me that the foxes have been caught criticizing the hen in the coop. It is a shame that some join them in this attack on our Premier.

    I don’t think Premier Redford has fallen from grace. As the “disgraceful” examples you cite show, she represents exactly what Alberta needs to move forward as opposed to the corrupt influences who have been there in the past.

    One more example: We don’t need elected “leaders” calling on Frito-Lay to boycott our potato producers either.

  5. Kevin, I agree with your criticism of Rod Love and was citing him as an example of how the “old guard” Tories may be viewing Ms Redford. Whether the “old guard” will continue to influence Tory policy remains to be seen.

    I brought up Doug Black not in his capacity as senator-in-waiting (a goofy concept) but rather as the founding president of the Energy Policy Institute of Canada which represents all of the heavy hitters in oil and gas, the utilities, mining, engineering and construction. EPIC developed its own set of recommendations for a national energy strategy which Mr Black says represents EPIC’s “best thinking” and which will be out soon to “…inform Canadian political leaders and Canadians”. (Oilweek, Aug 2012, p 20). So it appears that Mr Black’s position is that we do need a national energy strategy, just not the one presented by Ms Redford.

  6. Well, I’ll admit I was just teasing you — 🙂

  7. Well those of us who make political comments occasionally cite sources that we might later regret.

    Even as someone who supports Premier Redford, I would prefer to see more “we did this” instead of the increasing number of “we will do this”.

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