Opinion

A cabinet tour? It must be election season

Only Premier Alison Redford knows for sure when the next provincial election will be called but she and her cabinet ministers have already been out on the campaign trail. This latest cabinet tour was in Lacombe this morning for a breakfast meeting with some of the Lacombe-Ponoka constituency’s movers and shakers. Most of these community leaders are sucking on the government teat so it’s not likely the ministers will hear anything that would affect their digestion. If they really wanted to know how Albertans feel about the state of health care, the proposed oil pipelines, electricity demand, landowner rights, education, and illegal donations accepted by the Progressive Conservative party, they would have gone to Tim’s to talk to commuters in the lineup for a double-double in the confusing new sizes. Unless the government wants to put the bureaucracy into a tizzy, it’s already too late for any input these ministers hear to have an impact on the budget, expected to be delivered soon after the legislature is recalled on Feb. 7. It’s too late to be laid out in the speech from the throne. The cabinet tour is pointless — unless the premier needs to introduce her new cabinet out on the hustings. Presenting a budget — another deficit budget — and a throne speech before calling an election for sometime in Alberta’s “fixed election period” of March 1 to May 31, gives the government a platform from which to campaign. Waiting until March for an election also gives the PC party’s many new candidates an opportunity to do some door knocking before the sidewalks get congested with politicians. It’s unlikely, after all the clamouring the opposition parties have done in the last year, that all Albertans will have a full slate of candidates to choose from. It’s shaping up as a race with the New Democrats on the left and the Wildrose party on the right squeezing the governing PCs in the middle. The Alberta party and the Liberals don’t have the support nor organization to mount a serious threat. Liberal leader Raj (The Mouth That Bored) Sherman has admitted he’s preparing for the 2016 election. Without former premier Ed Stelmach to kick around, it will be interesting to see how the Wildrose party approaches the campaign. Can leader Danielle Smith come off as a viable premier-in-waiting with a viable and prudent alternative to the government, or just a shrill voice for Grumpy Old Tories? It’s been a year since Stelmach announced he was retiring but only four months since he actually vacated the premier’s office. The Progressive Conservative leadership race took 248 days and two ballots. Once the premieress drops the writ, there will be a 28-day election campaign. Eight months for a few party members to get the leader they didn’t want; one month for Albertans to get the government they don’t deserve. Albertans are in for an interesting election; surely one that will get them off the couch and into the voting booth. No matter the outcome, Albertans will elect their first female premier. And this election will determine whether Alberta is Really Conservative or Progressive Conservative.
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