Danielle Smith Betrayed the Wildrose; Jim Prentice Betrayed the Rest of Us

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” —Abraham Lincoln

Premier Prentice gave every member of his caucus a copy of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book Team of Rivals. No doubt to help them “decide” whether to let Danielle Smith, the leader of the Opposition, and eight members of her Wildrose caucus join the Progressive Conservative government.

The absurdity of the situation escaped his dimwitted caucus.

Mr Lincoln

The book describes Abraham Lincoln’s relationship the three men in his own party who challenged Lincoln for the Republican presidential nomination.  After Mr Lincoln won the presidency he persuaded these three members of his own party to join his cabinet.

In case Mr Prentice hasn’t caught my drift there’s a huge difference between asking members of your own party to help you solve difficult problems and allowing a bunch of opportunistic carpetbaggers, some demanding cabinet posts, in the door.

Prentice’s Perfidy

The fact that Mr Prentice welcomed the gang of hypocrites who staged “one of the greatest acts of betrayal in Canadian political history”* with open arms tells us a lot about Mr Prentice.

Mr Prentice says it’s an opportunity to unite the conservative family. He’s delighted that the PCs once again represent the “full diversity of voices and regions from across all Alberta” (read: we’ve recaptured the rural vote). He says Alberta needed “united leadership and shared purpose in tackling the challenges ahead”.

United leadership and shared purpose? In case Mr Prentice hasn’t noticed, he already has an overwhelming majority in the Legislature and under his much touted “new management” he can accomplish anything his little heart desires.

No, this was simply a bargain with the devil to avoid the risk of a minority government in the next election.

Reunification at what cost?

Ms Soapbox is not totally naïve.   She knows that some politicians are self-serving opportunistic swine. However even she expected better of this premier.

A review of the Reunification Agreement sets out four themes that show how far Mr Prentice is willing go to win a majority government in the next election.

  1. Violating the trust of PC voters: By agreeing to the Wildrose policies set out in the agreement Mr Prentice violated the trust PC voters placed in him and his government.  If they wanted to be governed under Wildrose policies they would have voted for the Wildrose party in 2012 and 2014.  They didn’t.

Ms Smith

Specifically, PC voters did not vote for narrow social conservatism which enhances parental rights at the expense of the rights of LBGTQ children. Mr Prentice wisely backed away from this policy when he “paused” Bill 10, but reversed his position to appease the nine Wildrose defectors.  

  1. Selling” the premier’s personal endorsement: Mr Prentice gave the defecting Wildrose MLAs a lock on the PC nomination process in the upcoming election.  In an open letter Mr Prentice personally endorsed each Wildrose MLA who chooses to run as a PC candidate in the 2015 nomination process. Can I have an endorsement if I promise to stop slagging the premier on the Soapbox? 

3. Violating the candidate selection process: The agreement effectively blocks anyone but the defecting Wildrose MLAs from being a PC candidate in their riding in the next election. If a misguided member of the PC party were to put his name forward he’ll receive a call reminding him of the Premier’s endorsement.  I understand that such “reminder” calls run the gamut from “you’ve got to take one for the party, step aside” to “get out of the way if you know what’s good for you”.

By blocking nominations from anyone but the defecting Wildrose MLA, Mr Prentice subverted the democratic process of candidate selection and is forcing his choice, no, Danielle Smith’s choice of candidates on the PC voters in these ridings. 

  1. Stealing the Opposition: Mr Prentice negotiated with the Official Opposition as a bloc. He violated his promise of greater accountability, transparency and good governance because he knew that if he succeeded he’d destroy the most effective opposition Alberta has had in decades.

Two PC “leaders”

Mr Prentice stole the Opposition from the Albertans who put it there. Then he smugly announced that his seat count now equals that of ex-premiers Lougheed and Klein.**What he fails to recognize is that in Lougheed and Klein’s day it was the people, not the premier who put them there.

Cabinet vs Board Room

Mr Prentice fulfilled his promise of a “government under new management”. He handpicks his cabinet, parachuting outsiders into key portfolios like a CEO picking his executive team. He grows market share in rural areas by poaching “talent” that can deliver the votes. He mitigates a loss of market share by co-opting the Opposition so they can’t hold the government to account.

Abe Lincoln said: test a man’s integrity by giving him power. Mr Prentice had the power to say “thanks, but no thanks” when presented with the Wildrose defection plan. Instead he gutted the Opposition by drafting its disaffected MLAs into government.

It’s a shrewd move if you’re a CEO. It’s an abuse of power if you’re the premier.

*Globe and Mail, Dec 17, 2014, A1  

**Globe and Mail, Dec 19, 2014, A1

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35 Responses to Danielle Smith Betrayed the Wildrose; Jim Prentice Betrayed the Rest of Us

  1. John Smith says:

    Danielle Smith-Redford is a big reason why so many voters just don’t care anymore.

  2. Jim Lees says:

    I’m waiting to hear the chronology of how this came about, although I’m not holding my breath. If this is such a brilliant move, why isn’t someone putting their hand up and taking credit for its inception? Cabinet posts can be fleeting, methinks there is more to this deal….

    • Jim: the Globe & Mail and Calgary Herald ran a number of stories about the greatest political betrayal in Canadian history. Here’s a version of the truth I picked up from the papers. We should take these “facts” with a grain of salt.
      • Week of Nov 10 — A WR MLA (I wonder whether his initials are R.A.) contacts Mr Percy, Prentice’s Chief of Staff, to start negotiating safe passage for a group of WR MLAs.
      • Nov 14/15 WR AGM — Smith is downcast because her anti-discrimination amendment to the WR policy is rejected. She doesn’t know whether she’ll step down or continue to fight.
      • Nov 24 — Kerry Towle and Ian Donovan cross the floor. Danielle disowns them saying they were seduced by the “perks of power”.
      • Danielle announces there will be no more defections. Within hours of this announcement, she’s “confronted with the ongoing negotiations with Mr Percy and was given an ultimatum to join the mass defection” G&M, Dec 20, A15
      • Dec 10 , the last day of the fall sitting, Smith meets with Prentice at the Hotel MacDonald for the “first time” (I’m not sure this is correct, I thought I saw something about Smith saying she wanted to check out why Towle and Donovan crossed the floor).
      • Dec 17, it’s a done deal. Hugs and smiles all around.

      We used to think democracy was priceless, but apparently in Alberta you can buy the Opposition for 9 personal endorsements, 9 guaranteed nominations, 1 socially conservative policy and 1 (minimum) cabinet post. Shameful.

  3. Kelvin says:

    Jim May have the bodies he hasn’t gotten their cash.

  4. Verna Milligan says:

    Great opening quote, Susan. Speaking of power, two small articles in the media bring two questions to mind:

    1) “Fundraising drive for Wildrose staff fired days before Christmas”. While Brian Mason gave $500, the ‘silence” of the cross-overs has been deafening. If this is how they treat their own loyal staff members, what decisions will they make (as they sit around “The Table”) regarding those most vulnerable citizens in our society — with whom they may have no personal connection?

    2) “Child Advocate, AG face budget cuts”. As citizens in a democracy, we allot funds on a per capita basis to the Opposition Party, not simply to “bring the Government down”, as Ms. Smith states. But is it not, along with these independent agencies, to provide scrutiny and watchdog functions to (according to the federal website) “ensure that legislation is carefully considered, and that differing views on important initiatives are publicly expressed and defended”. Will Albertans simply stand by and let the Grinch not only steal Christmas, but some of the most basic pillars of our democracy in Alberta?

    • Verna: the cuts to the Auditor General’s office is particularly disturbing–$546,000 less just when we need more independent oversight of the one-party state–and additional cuts to Privacy, Ethics, Ombudsman, Child Advocate. Dave Eggan nailed it when he said “[The PCs] just decimated the official opposition and now they’re going after these independent offices that are required now more than ever to scrutinize the government.” The sad thing is that these cuts total about $1 million. That’s a rounding error in the big scheme of things, but it will seriously damage the institutions that we need to keep them honest. Blows a big hole in Prentice’s promise of “good governance”.

  5. david swann says:

    Susan you really nailed it with this blog!
    It takes two to undermine our democratic values in the party system and Jim Prentice deserves to wear this travesty as much as Danielle Smith.
    While there are disadvantages to the party system it is still our most effective way of ensuring scrutiny of ruling governments. Last week my Assistant was quoted saying “Doesn’t Mr Prentice know that he will be much less trusted without an opposition?” Indeed, for more than one reason. The truth (which the Wildrose up till now have not been shy to speak) is that 43 years of ANY government has resulted in the cronyism, corruption and lack of vision that we have seen for two decades. A few new members at the top of the PC government does not change this, or the thousands of people who have nurtured profitable two-way relationships with the Tories!
    Now we’ll see what Albertans are made of. I am hopeful (but not optimistic) that enough Albertans see this ‘violation of contract’ (both Prentice and Smith, as you described so well!) care about our future that they will join an opposition party of their choice and, as early as this Spring (if Prentice is all about power rather than following the fixed election timeline in legislation for Spring, 2016) and shock the hell out of this incompetent and short-sighted government.

    • David, I watched Ezra Levant interview Danielle Smith about her defection. I can’t stand Levant, but he did an excellent job pointing out Smith’s hypocrisy. Smith trotted out her old line–Prentice agreed with everything she asked for, she didn’t want to defeat him anymore, she wanted him to succeed because the province was facing $50 oil and she needed to be sure that the Tory caucus would make the tough decisions it needed to make and that needed to be “sold to the public”. (I guess she thinks Prentice wouldn’t have cut deep enough without her by his side). Levant pointed out that all of these decisions will be made in secret behind closed doors and that as Leader of the Official Opposition she had an opportunity to hold Prentice to account in public. He said by defecting she’d destroyed the Opposition. She replied with some nonsense about the government not being able to wait while they (who? the WR and the PCs) got their act (what? reunificatin?) together because these were tough times. She made absolutely no sense.
      Then I listened to another radio station interview Prentice. The interviewer asked Prentice to comment on the statement that by accepting the WR defectors he’d pulled the PC party further to the right. Prentice said that was not the case. He pointed to his personal “progressive” record as proof of the fact. He’s missing the point. Just because Prentice says he’s progressive doesn’t mean he is (Bill 10 is proof that he’s not) and accepting WRers who align nicely with his pick for Education Minister just makes things worse.
      These are indeed troubling times for Alberta. I sincerely hope that the true progressives in the PC party and Albertans in general will recognize this “reunification” of the conservatives for what it is–Prentice solidifying the stranglehold the small “c” conservatives have on this province just in time to bail out Big Oil who got in over their heads and who are now being taught a harsh lesson by the Saudis. Welcome to the real world where the most efficient market wins.

  6. Sam Gunsch says:

    Susan said: “He’s delighted that the PCs once again represent the “full diversity of voices and regions from across all Alberta” (read: we’ve recaptured the rural vote).”

    re: “we’ve recaptured the rural vote”

    I’d say Prentice is likely wrong about that ‘recaptured’ part, if that’s what he’s thinking.

    My speculation (of course) turns on the accuracy of my assumption that the rural Wildrose base is going to react like the TeaParty in their response to anything they perceive as top-down politics.

    Didn’t Preston Manning pitch his Reform agenda primarily by promising a party that would respect the voters’s wishes, to be fully responsive to them?

    And isn’t the Wildrose voter base in rural ridings mostly the same base who gave their trust to Presto?

    These voters are angry/alienated now not only by the specific actions of Danielle Smith/defectors, but how, in their anger, could they now vote for a PC party that obviously functions as a top-down political machine? Cognitive dissonance will be too much.

    Additional evidence for my speculation about WRP base voting:

    Political history of reaction to PC’s top-down approach in Rural AB:

    1. Powerlines. 2. Property rights vs Alberta Land Stewardship Act(ALSA).

    Ted Morton made significant pro-property rights changes to ALSA at the last minute, got rural power-players high-level endorsement of the veracity of those changes, but still couldn’t save his career against the outrage that had become embedded.

    I really wonder if any of the defectors can win again if their ridings are mostly rural.

    • Sam Gunsch says:

      clarification re this: “Wildrose base is going to react like the TeaParty”

      I mean, that voters identified with the TeaParty, actually mobilize, get out and vote on their judgements at much higher rates than other segments of Republicans or USA voters in general.

      And that level of voting is going to prevent re-election of the defectors.

      And WRP voters are entirely justified in their outrage about what’s happened.
      Count me among the 59% in today’s polling news that disapprove of the floorcrossing.

      I don’t generally agree with the WRP policies but I respect the level of political engagement of their supporters.

      • Sam I think you’re right on this one. When the 9 WR MLAs defected they didn’t bring many people with them. That poll you referred to said 91% of the people who actually voted Wildrose were against the mass defection. Add that to the fact that many of the defectors are on record (in Hansard) trashing Prentice’s Bill 1 which purported to rectify his government’s “attack” on property rights and you’ve got a real mess.
        On Nov 18 Smith said: “the problem is that when this government thinks that your property rights might get in the way of what they want to do, they write legislation that allows the cabinet to take away your rights without due process and without full, fair, and timely compensation. They did that with the bills commonly known as Bill 50, Bill 36, Bill 24, and Bill 2, among others.” She turns to the Premier in Question Period and asks why he isn’t addressing the real issues now that he has a chance. (p12) Bikman and other defectors made speeches supporting her position…and just a few weeks later they’re part of the very government they accuse of abusing the people’s rights.
        I don’t know how any of them is going to sweet talk his/her way out of that quagmire.

  7. Janet Keeping says:

    This is so good, Susan. Thanks so much for it. I very much agree that Prentice has betrayed all Albertans by acquiescing in the destruction of the official opposition. Shameful behaviour on both sides. Some of your readers might want to read my brief piece at http://greenpartyofalberta.ca/reduced-opposition-threatens-the-well-being-of-albertans/
    With the PC caucus further strengthened (at least in the short term – there may well be troubles down the road keeping such a large caucus together), progressively-minded Albertans have to find a way to work together to ensure our views are represented in the Legislature and in government decision-making and to provide democratic accountability.
    Janet Keeping, leader, Green Party of Alberta

    • Janet, your piece summed it up very well, particularly at the end where you characterized Prentice’s role in destroying the official opposition as being “the same-old/same-old political empire-builder.” Sadly a poll in today’s Herald says that while 59% of those polled disapproved of the floor crossing, the disapproval comes largely from supporters of opposition parties; 70% of PC supporters were either strongly or somewhat in favour of the move.
      As you rightly point out, there may be a “be careful what you wish for” element here. Prentice is going to have his hands full keeping his caucus of die hard Tories and turncoat Wildrosers together. Wouldn’t it be ultimate justice if the Tory caucus imploded as a result of his hubris. As we’ve said many times, Prentice is no Peter Lougheed and he certainly is no Abraham Lincoln!

  8. Diana Brockhurst says:

    All I can do is shake my head at what amounts to nothing but a backstabbing, hypocrite with no credibility, morals, ethics or principles. Every vehemently critical comment that came out of smith’s mouth now is seen as nothing more than B.S. especially given the months leading up to her defection that she admitted she was in talks with prentASS.

    I have said since day one has been a party made up of nothing but disgruntled ex-CONS-ervative’s ~ wolves in sheep’s clothing. Thanks Danielle for NOT proving my opinion wrong. There certainly isn’t any difference between smith & redFRAUD. Both turned out to be nothing more than a pair of self-absorbed, opportunistic skanky, lying, corrupt, 2 faced political parasites and an abhorrent embarrassment to my gender.

  9. Diana, things keep getting worse for Danielle and her gang of eight. Preston Manning just told the world that the Wildrose defection was undemocratic. Mr Manning said that when he united the right 15 years ago the process involved discussions with the grassroots, a members’ vote and ultimately validation in the 2000 federal election. He said: “It was a disservice to those who sought my counsel and to those who have placed their trust in my commitment to democracy – a mistake for which I now sincerely apologize to all concerned.” I wonder what Ms Smith and the 8 defectors can say in reply– “We accept your apology and are pressing ahead with our undemocratic defection anyway”. Here’s the link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/preston-manning-apologizes-for-role-in-wildrose-defections-1.2881925
    This is going to get a whole lot worse before it’s over. I don’t expect to see any more photo ops showing Mr Prentice and Ms Smith standing cheek to cheek. He’s going to try to distance himself from this fiasco as fast as he can…unfortunately for him, he’s as culpable as she is.

    • Diana Brockhurst says:

      Yes I heard earlier today about good ol’ Manning. So sad how his apology was too little, too late. Bloody rights, ” . . . . he’s as culpable as she is.” I really thing it’s time Manning was put out to pasture. He’s become more than a tad irrelevant and well passed his best before date. He’s done more damage to this country than one person should EVER have been allowed to do. “Democracy” does the bozo even know the definition of the word?? I haven’t seen democracy in THIS province in 20 YEARS. It’s been the REGRESSIVE CONS-ervarive’s way or NO WAY!! (there’s not a progressive bone among the entire group) I have no don’t doubt that things are going to get a whole lot worse.

      • Diana, when I was talking about culpability I meant that Premier Prentice is just as culpable as Danielle Smith because he actually let the WR defectors into his caucus without caring a fig whether it would be harmful to democracy in Alberta.

        Having said that I agree with you that Preston Manning wears some of the blame as well. I can’t fathom how Manning could have had an hour long conversation with Smith and the other defectors about his experience merging the Reform party with the federal Tories and not hammer home the point out that the only democratic way to effect a merger involves talking to the grassroots and taking it to a membership vote.

        Seems to me Smith and crew were looking for Manning’s blessing to “defect”…this is a far cry from getting his advice on “merger”.

  10. Julie Ali says:

    Hi Susan,

    I am curious if this merger behind closed doors will lead to further promotions further down the line as things go kaput in the economy.

    Will Ms. Smith go from her catastrophic work at CBE to the catastrophic work with the Wildrosies to further catastrophic work with the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta to end up in the premier’s job?

    Will Pipeline Prentice take a stab at Mr. Harper’s job once he has had his Redford run at the premier’s job? Ms. Redford yapped about the bitumen bubble and was turfed out for doing what every premier since Klein has done which is make merry on our cash. So why would Pipeline Prentice survive the downturn in the economy when Redford wasn’t able to do this? I expect that Pipeline Prentice lose his job as the premier when he can’t make good on the pipelines that the oil and gas industry has hired him to resurrect. The oil and gas industry have their king and the heir to the king of the oil monarchy in place. It’s very neat. I expect if Prentice doesn’t make good, the Smith will come to power.

    I mean it’s not as if we live in a democracy in Alberta. We simply agree to the coronations (or don’t).

    The most recent anti-democratic act of the Tories is something we certainly did not agree to but most Tory voters are apparently willing to let the two Tory animals combine to form this odd chimera. I am curious what the offspring of this Tory chimera will be.

    In any case, it is odd that we have had this merger with the involvement of Mr. Manning who has shown up like a case of a bad diaper rash on the Tory rump— to apologize for encouraging deMockracy when the far more culpable folks— Prentice and Smith —simply smile away any concerns of their role in destroying the only opposition we had in Alberta that could hold the government of Alberta accountable for mismanagement of funds and the excessive expenditures of the Tory cronies.
    It is galling to me that we have so many Tory cronies to consider who have abused the public purse iin an orgy of entitlement that even now must be occurring behind closed doors.
    The list of the Tor cronies who have eaten well on our dime, have bought chocolate, wine and Con Boland photography have now expanded to include the unethical ethics commissioner Neil Wilkinson whose decampment from his cushy job is now finally explained to us–he couldn’t hide his major expenses — and he didn’t want to face the public ire so he gave up his posh job to slum it out as a regular citizen (albeit with a lucrative pension plan no doubt).

    It makes me wonder if there are any other backroom deals going on among the Progressive Conservative Party brethren. You can’t trust anything these folks tell us. Why I remember just recently Pipeline Prentice was telling Edmontonians that we could not expect that Mr. Mandel would come out of private life to slog yet again for the undeserving unwashed riffraff and then surprise! Suddenly Mr. Mandel was parachuted into my Riverbend community (where he does not live) and
    he was willing to be our MLA. Such surprising sacrifice was rewarded by the dumb voters in my community with the election of said parachuted candidate. This example of chatter by the Prentice— is sufficient to convince me that if Mr. Prentice says that it will rain tomorrow, I can expect sunshine.

    I feel that Mr. Prentice is going to be another Redford premier. There is a problem with the oil prices being low and the CNRL owner indicates to us that he feels that this sort of low price will continue on for a while. But what does Mr. Murray Edwards care about this downturn in the economy? He is nicely diversified thanks to stock options and has an Order of Canada plus a seat in the powerful federal Economic Advisory Council with other bigwigs who know all about money because they find novel ways to strip ordinary citizens of this money.

    The housing starts are going down. I think that –despite the citizen subsidized infrastructure boom in downtown Edmonton — that won’t tide us over while oil crashes. Construction might keep things afloat but I doubt it. All those mutual funds we all own will dive because all the mutual fund managers have investments in oil and gas companies. Everyone will start to feel poorer and we will begin to spend less. When the citizens spend less, this means that there will be job losses. Of course I could be wrong. But I will save an emergency fund, get out of debt and find a job now that the sons are old enough to survive on cafeteria food at school. These are interesting times. Less turbulence did away with the Redford so I imagine we will be stuck with Danielle Smith as the next premier after Pipeline Prentice runs for Mr. Harper’s job. Who knows why Albertans love this sort of rot and keep it going but we can’t –as writers—get our knickers in a twist but merely report what we consider to be everywhere corruption.

    Sorry for the long comment.

    • Julie, thanks for this very informative response (and no it’s not too long). Your comment at the end about writers having to report corruption is bang on. I’m reading Chris Hedges’ book Death of the Liberal Class. He says that small “l” liberals in academia, the arts, and the media abandoned social causes when they fell for the allure of financial advancement and brilliant careers. Hedges says even left leaning papers like The New York Times only let their reporters go so far before reining them in if they attack the status quo or the paper’s benefactors. Hedges, a Pulitzer Price winner, was pushed out of his job as a reporter with the NYT. He’d spent 7 years in the Middle East, including Iraq, and describes himself as one of those who understood after the first Gulf War “that while Hussein was certainly a tyrant, he was not a threat to [the USA] or to Iraq’s neighbors”. (p 127) Hedges wouldn’t stop talking about it and was finally bounced by the NYT when he made war and empire the the centre-piece of a commencement address he gave at Rockford College in 2003.

      Admittedly, we’re not writing about issues of the same magnitude, however we too need to point out facts like Mr Mandel being parachuted into Riverbend (I didn’t know that), just like Mr Dirks was parachuted into my neighbourhood Calgary-Elbow (where he does not live) and Prentice parachuting himself into Calgary-Foothills. Looks a little opportunistic doesn’t it…rather like accepting the WR defectors into the Tory government in order to decimate the Opposition and break the back of democracy in Alberta.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Julie thank you for the best name I have heard so far – Pipeline Prentice 🙂
        I could not agree more with your comment. These people do all the undemocratic moves to be democratically elected. It is bizarre. Why is anyone even allowed to be parachuted into a constituency? What kind of rules are these?
        Please do not forget to visit the site to recall Sweet Danielle
        recalldanielle.ca

        Susan answering your comment on Manning I just say what is clear to me – he thinks democracy is what the ultra conservatives believe in. He is one of those that thinks democracy is a consequence of capitalism.

  11. Carlos Beca says:

    By now I am already quite used to this kind of spineless atittudes from our so called political leaders. I call them something else but I will save the readers of this blog from bad language.
    To me what matters now is that our so called democracy is already looking more like a feudal system. Another violent stab on an already without any pulse system. It is so obvious where we are heading. Who advised bright Danielle to go ahead with this amazingly charactless move? Yes you got it the big cheese from the so called center for building democracy. It is unreal what is going on in this country. What a travesty. While some countries struggle and fight for democracy, we have idiots destryoing ours.

  12. Carlos, Alberta appears to be descending into corporatocracy with shocking speed. But I see glimmers that lead me to believe Albertans won’t accept this erosion of democracy without a fight. So many people, including hairdressers and housekeepers, told me they’re deeply troubled by Danielle’s actions. While they can’t articulate exactly what’s bothering them–Danielle’s betrayal of her party? Of the Office of the Official Opposition? Prentice’s betrayal of his progressive principles in accepting them?–they know that this is terribly wrong.

    This is where your comment about Preston Manning comes in. It’s interesting that he didn’t apologize for his failure to make it clear that a merger of the WR with the PCs would require a democratic process until after a poll showed 91% of the Wildrosers were against Smith’s mass defection. He’s right that merger requires democratic consultation, but I wonder whether he would have said anything at all if the poll showed Wildrosers were indifferent.

    PS Thank you for respecting the Soapbox’s unwritten rule against bad language. I really appreciate it! 🙂

  13. Richard Lauder says:

    After it became obvious what a disaster this was, Prentice quickly claimed that “someone from WRP” approached THEM about this deal. That’ll be the 10th November week you refer to above. But it was well known that the PCs had been contacting WR mla’s for WEEKS before that day. That’s just the time when one of them finally said back “Ok, we’re willing to listen. What’ve you got to say/offer?” When Danielle broke the news in August or September that the PCAA had been contacting WRP members about some kind of “merger”, Prentice angrily denied it. Yet it seems this was his plan all along. Not to “unite” conservatives, but to eradicate the only opposition that would stop him having free reign over Alberta. When the massive public backlash erupted, ALL pc mla’s, including their 9 newest members, have remained almost totally silent on this. I believe this is an intentional strategy to keep the PC parties name out of the news on this matter, and sit back while most media repeatedly cry out “Wildrose! Wildrose!” For those (most people) who don’t follow politics closely and only look at headlines, this scandal will be solely linked to WRP only. Yet the 9 who “caused” the uproar, are NOT wrp anymore, nor are they NDP or Liberals or ABparty. They are now all PCAA. And as you point out, the Prentice PC’s have their hands more dirty in this than any other party. They engineered it, they welcomed and provided a loving home for these gullible “traitors”, and it is they who are now cunningly and cowardly hiding behind bushes hoping the media will throw stones at the remaining WRP who actually showed integrity. This was nothing more than a self serving, undemocratic power grab that wasn’t even necessary considering the majority they had. I’ve totally lost all respect for the PC party now.

    • Richard, your comment is well taken. Prentice is being too cute by half in denying that discussions of some short were taking place for some time now. Hiding behind the the strict interpretation “merger” versus “floor crossing” isn’t going to cut it. And yes, this will go over most people’s heads because they simply look at the headlines which are often inaccurate or misleading. Today’s coverage about the Ethics Commissioner’s report on Education Minister Gord Dirks promising two portables to the William Reid school (which just so happened to be in the riding where he was running in the by-election) was classic. The headline in the Calgary Herald said: Dirks cleared but chastised by ethics boss. The headline in The Globe & Mail said: Ethics commissioner blasts Minister’s blatant political opportunism”. There’s a night and day difference between being “cleared” and “chastised” versus “”blasted” for “blatant political opportunism”. The Calgary Herald doesn’t get it or chooses not to, either way it’s shabby reporting in my book.

    • Jackie Burns says:

      I so agree Richard in so many ways, but my pessimism goes farther. I tend to wonder if the WR under Danielle Smith was a total PC ruse to start with, to give the anti PC people hope that someone understands and sees where they are coming from and fight for them. Things seemed conveniently available, or easy to get and the agenda (by the PC’s)was set for the legislative question period. The WR fought tooth and nail against Stelmach and Redford ( as their popularity was slipping.) When Prentice was bought into play, its like the WR quit doing their opposition and Party job. The attitude and negative platform attested to that at the by-election. WR did their job of finding out what Albertans wanted and the PC’s used that info and put it into play to gain back Albertans trust. Did you notice when WR was gaining ground big time and were leading in the polls, they totally backed off till Prentice got his footing then they basically quit. I think all PC and WR supporters have been used.

  14. Jackie, you may be on to something. There was no reason for the WR opposition to cross the floor after the recent by-elections. It’s no surprise that Prentice won in 4 handpicked ridings, but even with the WR loss they were only 6 points down in the polls. But the Prentice/Smith plan worked. The PCs had their best fundraising quarter ever. They raised a record breaking $1,390,480 from Oct 1 to Dec 31, 2014. Clearly someone is happy with the plan to cripple democracy in Alberta.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      I would not be surprised at all that this is possible.
      Nowadays only a Midlle Eastern name and a weapon are considered dangerous to our freedom, everything else is acceptable. All politicians consider themselves true democrats of course just look at the parade of leaders that were in France wearing the ‘Je suis Charlie’. You can start with the Russian foreign minister, through Benjamin Netanyahu and Cameron that particiapated in the bombing of Al jazeera in Iraq and the great Ali Bongo who has his hands as dirty as a septic tank.
      They are all so cute are they not?

    • jackie burns says:

      Susan, TY for your ear and seeing where I am coming from. I know I am very much a pessimist, but when red flags spring up I tend to dig deeper. I came across some pictures of a pancake breakfast in Calgary in 2008 or so. Both Prentice and Smith were there and they seemed (buddy, buddy back then). Certain things Smith said sorta didn’t sit right in the past few months either. She made it very clear that she would step down if she didn’t win in 2016. She blamed the media for not printing the good things she tried to promote, but on her facebook page she was always negative there too, the media had no say over that. That is a very bad attitude for a party leader. She was also heard saying that she would pull the plug on WR if the right premier is in power. The final straw was when she said she didn’t want to do her opposition job because she likes Prentice and doesn’t want to hurt him or his party. Rob A. said something strange when he left as well. He said something to the effect of (my job is done at WR.)…No its not, the corruption and misuse of funds is still there and getting worse, so I don’t know what job he was referring to.

  15. Jackie, originally I put Smith and Anderson’s comments down to a fearful over-reaction to a bad result in the by-elections, but that didn’t make any sense. One doesn’t ditch the role of Leader of the Opposition because a new premier (who hasn’t done much of anything) “adopted all of our policies”. It’s nonsense…unless you put it into a different frame as you suggest here. Very bizarre. I can’t wait to see them all in action when the Legislature opens on Mar 10. The hypocrisy will be enough to choke a horse.

  16. Jackie Burns says:

    LOL, you call it hypocrisy, I call it something that is not printable. They cant keep their lies and stories straight now. We will never hear the truth as the PC’s seem to have control from the Justices down to the clerks. With no one to ask questions or keep them inline as to misspending, favoritism, perks, bonuses, raises and all those kinds of goodies, but the essential needs supposed to be covered by the AB govt are constantly being slashed. The new ministers of education and health are more interested in the here and now, they are more interested in the me and mine and minor issues. EG: Dirks thought it more important so sign off on a huge new education building in downtown Calgary rather than put the funds towards crucially needed schools, staff and better budgets. He also bumped his constituency up for a new school and his was 7th in line (queue jumping at its finest when you are the boss). Mandel is no better, we as Edmontonians have seen him at work. It was more important to bring in no smoking in cars rather than look into the shape some hospitals, lack of beds, staff and equipment, emerg wait times and wait times for surgeries, and some kinds of testing. He also gave the lab contract (not due till2016) to an Austrailian company, he didn’t even support either Alberta or a Canadian company. I thought Prentice said he would rein in the Redford type of abuse and misuse from his new cabinet. He is responsible and he should have stepped on this crap. Right now he is looking no better than Redford, letting his ministers do as they please with Albertas money (not in Albertans best interest) either. This is so freaking scary. Who rules above the prov. govt ? Where does it go when things are mismanaged and either let slide, or covered up.?

  17. Jackie B says:

    I came across this and it made a lot of sense as to how and what has happened and possibly what is to come.

    Trevor Harrison

    UNIVERSITY OF LETHBRIDGE

    The recent capitulation of Danielle Smith and eight of her Wildrose party colleagues to the governing Progressive Conservatives can only be understood by decoding the meaning of conservatism in Alberta and the political purposes that construction serves.

    The comments of Preston Manning and Premier Jim Prentice are instructive here. Manning played a major role in bringing about the mass defection, an act for which he has since provided written comments both justifying and then apologizing. The latter repentance need not concern us, but central among his stated justifications is the need for “Albertans, including conservatives of every stripe, to ‘pull together,’” to deal with the province’s current economic downturn resulting from a decline in the price of oil.

    Also instructive are Premier Jim Prentice’s comments, in defending Smith et al. against charges that their defection was undemocratic. “No one should equate democracy to conservatives fighting each other for the entertainment of the NDP.” In short, conservatism is a single bloc against which no man or woman should stand opposed.

    But what is this conservatism that Manning and Prentice invoke? Conservatism comes in various forms – Tory and republican; economic, political, and social. Indeed, Danielle Smith referred to social conservatives in her former caucus as the reason she abandoned Wildrose. Does the call for conservative unity include these elements? One wonders.

    The fact is, few people are ideologically motivated. Most people, and this includes Albertans, hold a mix of beliefs and values that range from socialist to liberal to conservative, and points extending. People cast a vote for a host of reasons, the least of which is strictly ideological.

    If the definition of conservatives is unclear and even contradictory, what then is the purpose of calling for them to unite?

    The answer is simple: it is a call for voters to rally, not around some chimerical orthodoxy, but around the Progressive Conservative party itself; a party, in turn, controlled by a very small corporate elite. The call for conservative unity in fact serves to neuter any voices that might challenge the party’s penthouse apparatchiks, keeping them silent and contained within the PC party’s big tent.

    The current “unity debate” in Alberta has its roots in the 2007 election of Ed Stelmach as party leader and premier. Stelmach’s victory was a surprise, as he defeated the oil industry’s hand-picked candidate, Jim Dinning. Even more of a surprise, Stelmach soon after struck a review panel to examine Alberta’s oil royalty structure. The panel’s subsequent report recommended a moderate rate increase that would be phased in over time.

    Alberta’s petroleum industry was livid and reacted as though someone had poured sugar into one of their CEO’s gas tanks. Clearly, Stelmach needed a reminder about who actually runs the province, but how to send it?

    The problem was made even more complicated when Stelmach handily won the spring 2008 election, taking 72 of 83 seats, and 53 per cent of the vote. But the fates were against him. The effects of the Great Recession, begun months before, slowly rolled into Alberta. The price of oil declined. The oil industry and its acolytes in the media promptly blamed Stelmach for daring to tinker with the royalty regime.

    To ensure Stelmach was disciplined, however, the oil industry threw its weight behind a political party it found stranded on the right side of a rural road, the Wildrose Alliance party. Founded just prior to the election from the remains of two earlier fringe right-wing parties, Wildrose seemed at first going nowhere. But it gained traction in the fall of 2009 after electing Danielle Smith, a Fraser Institute alumni, as leader. Smith quickly solidified the corporate sector’s support.

    The charismatically challenged Stelmach was no match for the media savvy and telegenic Smith. Amidst declining poll numbers, Stelmach stepped down as PC leader in the fall of 2011. Wildrose’s primary political purpose was fulfilled. But then the unexpected happened: the party, formed as a pressure group, instead continued to grow in electoral strength. Facing Alison Redford, the new PC leader going into the 2012 election, Wildrose for a time even seemed poised for victory.

    Wildrose did not, of course, win; the loss to political cartoonists is incalculable. But it was not Wildrose’s strength that worried Alberta’s corporate elite. More worrisome was the growing independence of progressive voices both within and outside the PC party. The oil industry’s death grip over the province’s economy depends upon keeping everyone trapped inside the PC party tent where contrary views can be assuaged and, more often, ignored.

    In the end, Redford proved hapless and self-destructive. No one lamented her resignation as premier in the spring of 2014. Thus, the way was paved for Jim Prentice. In Prentice, Alberta’s petroleum-based corporate elite – not to mention Danielle Smith – at last has its man. As for Wildrose, its purpose completed, it could be kicked to the side of the road from whence it came. The danger of pluralism breaking out in Alberta was thus thwarted. “Conservatism” in Alberta seems once again safe.

    Trevor Harrison is a political sociologist at the University of Lethbridge and director of Parkland Institute.

  18. Jackie B says:

    Douglas Malsbury Mr. Harrison has hit the nail on the head. As a WRP insider……this is exactly what happened! It was very apparent, as early as April/2014, that Danielle Smith and her “advisers from the oil industry” were taking the party down! Don’t believe all the drivel that went on later…….she got her marching orders from her bosses over at the Bow Tower…..and she took it down!

    I posted my thoughts in here before Trevor Harrison posted this in the Lethbridge Herald and was basically verified by a WR insider. I am just a joe/jane Albertan and my sights were similar to these.. Why cant other people see this, or are they too scared to talk?

  19. Jackie, thanks for this, your comments and Trevor Harrison’s analysis are extremely helpful. Whatever the deal was between Danielle and her Big Oil advisers–sometimes I think there doesn’t even need to be a deal, a shared belief in laissez-faire free market economics seems to be enough to make the whole thing work–I know from talking to my friends in the WR party that Danielle’s defection took many WR MLAs by surprise. I don’t think they’ll ever get over Danielle’s betrayal of everything they thought she stood for.
    As to your question asking who runs the government, Prentice gave us the answer when he said that under no circumstances was he cutting corporate taxes or increasing royalties. The rationale is what’s bad for business is bad for Albertans, but that doesn’t explain why in good times the government didn’t adopt a policy that what’s good for business is good for Albertans. Big Oil was raking in profits from $110 a barrel oil, but still there were no schools, hospitals or roads. Funny how it always works out in favour of business, not the little guy.

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