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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Debate Uncovers Personal Animosities Amongst the Alberta Political Leaders.

The Debate last week had some interesting subplots. Those revolved around the personal skirmishes between the leaders. It gives a sense of the personal positioning, fears and animosity that may exist between the various party leaders in this campaign.

The order of importance and context of these personal trysts, that I perceived, are as follows:

#1 Mason vs. Taft: Mason has to ensure his base does not go strategic on him and vote Liberal to try and defeat Tories…like what happened in Edmonton in 2004. A vote for Mason is not a Tory victory vote in 2008 but Mason is saying the Alberta Liberals are pretty much the same as the PCs…both are in the pocket of big money. Vote NDP to keep them both honest.

#2 Hinman vs. Stelmach: Hinman has to show some of his “true conservative” credentials and take Stelmach on over his “overspending” and “progressive” values. Hinman gets to ignore the needed increased spending is due to lack of meeting the needed infrastructure and maintenance spending of past years under the Klein regime. Hinman has to give the far right a reason to believe in him and that is best done by showing that the PCs have lost their way. He has gone too far claiming the Stelmach PCs are unprincipled people who “tear up contracts” with oil sands companies (not true at all but good spin) and therefore the PCs not worth reconsidering. Reality check…Suncor has already voluntarily renegotiated its royalty deal and Syncrude is on its way to do the same thing. NO contracts are being torn up and Hinman knows it. He is taking a pass on integrity with this misrepresentation crap…and he knows that too.

#3 Taft vs. Stelmach: This is Taft bemoaning the past of PC governance to the point his is actually running against Ralph not Ed. For example he frames 37 years of the same PC government is long enough and that is reason enough to change government. He discounts the fact that voters decide who they wish to govern them. He skates over the fact that elections are a chance to change governments every 4 years or so and that the various PC governments have been responsive and nimble enough to change with the times. Taft has to beat Ed on a personal level if his is to win this election and based on the changes in the last 14 months, Taft can’t count on Ed gaffing his way out of government. Taft is hoping Calgary is in the process redefining its Red Mile to be a profound Liberal Red Mine with lots of seat shifts. Ed is banking on Redmonton returning to the PCs and becoming EDmonton. Cute metaphors but is there any truth in them? We will know in a week.

#4 Mason vs. Taft and Stelmach: As variations on the same theme, distinctions without a difference. He claims both are in the pockets of big business and they don’t have the best interests of his “regular Albertans” in their hearts...as he obviously does. Nick Taylor, a former Alberta Liberal leader and federal Senator once described his successor Liberal leader, Laurence Decore, as “Getty with glasses.” Mason says the difference between Stelmach and Taft is indistinguishable at their core that he would net even made that distinction between how they would govern.…especially their too cozy relationship with big business in Alberta. Not very accurate on the evidence…but good positioning for Mason to speak to his base who need to believe in him to stay with him.
If all politics are local, are all leadership arguments and differences of opinion ultimately personal?