Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I Smell Democracy in the Air!

Kevin from the Country posted a comment on the “What is Happening This Week” posting. Amongst other things he says, as a Dinning guy, he is putting Stelmach as #2. His take is that Stelmach is the compromise candidate and in uncertain times we need “strong champions” and that means a struggle between Dinning and Morton.

I wanted to respond to Kevin comment, including the impact of Dinning's MLA endorsements, in a posting so more people would see it.

So hey Kevin – the bench strength of 30+ of the current MLA Dinning endorsees will be there for Ed too. Stelmach will also benefit significantly from the depth of experience and the creative mind of a guy like Dave Hancock. I doubt if Hancock will see a cabinet post in a Dinning government given how old style power politics really works.

I have to say the Dinning “bench” has not shown much “strength” in this campaign, especially based on the first ballot results. My sense they have just been following through on the cruising-control culture of the Klein government and hoping to ride through on Dinning’s coat tails. Jim can deliver Calgary, and he did, but he needs help elsewhere, and many of his soldiers were missing in action.

Too many of our PC candidates have been able to coast to victory behind Klein for the past 14 years. I campaign for Edmonton candidates and go door knocking with Stelmach in Vegreville. PC candidates here or anywhere in the north, really have to earn their seats by hard work and the dedication of volunteers and themselves. Norris found that out in 2004. There are no coat tails to sit on for those candidates. There will not be any coat tails for PC candidates in the next election either…regardless of who wins the leadership.

The PC Party brand and politicians will have to regain the trust and respect of Albertans if we are to continue to be seen as worthy of governance. Coat tail cruisers and self-centred egoists are about to become an endangered political species in the PC party. This is not dependent on who is leader. It depends on the membership taking the control of the party back and away from the Premier’s office.

“Jim-ophobes” and “Ted-ophiles” of course will see Ed as a “compromise candidate” AND will all put him as #2 – just as they should. . I know there will be lots of Stelmach people putting Dinning as their #2 guy. Thanks to the Dinning voters for the Stelmach support. It is very much appreciated. We know you have the best interests of the province and the party at heart when you mark your ballot for Ed Stelmach.

The rest of us, the ordinary guys who are the “Ed-lightened” Progressives in the party, and the thousands of other ordinary Albertans who are buying up membership this week see Stelmach as a preferred first choice.

They want authentic change - not the same old – same old control from the centre, top-down politics of the past. Nor do they want a province that will become a fundamentalist theocracy. Ed Stelmach’s personal values and leadership style is not aligned with either of those governance models.

We “preferred first choice” Stelmach supporters also see Ed in very practical positive terms too. He is an experienced and capable guy who comes to politics as a personal calling based on public service - not as a professional power monger.

I know Ed Stelmach. He is a friend of mine. I know him to be honest, descent, warm, curious, caring, engaging, fun loving and hardworking. Look up integrity and sincerity in the dictionary and you should see Stelmach’s picture.

These are critically important character qualities for modern leadership. The back rooms and the political power players (of all stripes) see these qualities as weaknesses for effective leadership. Can you believe that? We should forgive them for such delusions. Foregiveness is fine but we should not elect old style pure power-based or politicians who are essentially patricians either - and for the same reasons - character. They are delusional and have lost touch with the public they purport to serve.

I gotta tell you Kevin – I believe Stelmach is going to win this based on the fear of the top two, the Mandel Syndrome and the good sense of ordinary Albertans who see a chance for some positive political change.

I smell some real democracy in the air, and I am not alone.