Sunday, March 02, 2008

"All I am Saying is Give Ed a Chance."

This weekend in Alberta has been eerily quiet and anxiety raising for the hard-core partisan campaigners off all political stripes who have been working hard for local candidates and their leaders in this election. This is because no one really knows what will happen tomorrow at the polling booth.

The opinion polls are all over the map. The undecided is high, there are 300,000 new Albertans since the last election and they are a wild card. The old political "order of things" in the power structure of Alberta is changing too.

Personally I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic…I am fatalistic. Que sera sera is how I see it. The citizens of Alberta who show up and vote will decide our future and I trust their wisdom. Albertans are quitely reflecting this weekend and struggling to make up their minds about how they will vote. They hold the future of the province in their collective hands and they are weighing the alternative choices before them and considering the consequences.

There are many regional differences and issues in play all over the provionce. Indications are that Ed’s rural vote is holding and Edmonton is firming up behind Ed where polls say he can expect more seats. The deep south is in play in some places and there are some other intereting local campaigns to watch too. And then there is the Calgary factor.

In Calgary it is all about choosing between being pissed with Ed Stelmach (because he is not one of them) or being practical and pragmatic about their continuing place in Alberta’s political power structure. This choice is made especially problematic for Calgary’s power brokers if Edmonton goes to Ed this time and he ends up with a comfortable majority. Sending message to Ed by voting RED is one thing but losing influence to Edmonton - that would be too much to bear.

There is an interesting and telling comment in the Edmonton Journal today that quotes a U of C political scientist who said “Calgary’s not used to being ignored.” Calgary has not been ignored by Stelmach since he won the PC leadership, and particularly since he called this election campaign. But Alberta has changed and it is no longer “Ralph’s World.” In Ralph’s World , Klein did not so much "own" Calgary as the Calgary elites "owned" Ralph. They had Klein's ear and he pretty much did what they whispered into it.

But now there is a new man in charge and he comes from northern and rural Alberta. He is definitely not from Calgary...and that is disquieting for the Calgaty old-boys who firmly believed what was good for Calgary was defacto good for the rest of Alberta. Ed is not in the pockets of these energy elites nor is he beholden to them. As a result the old energy sector power players don’t know how to respond to him except to be personally condescendingly at times, brashly aggressive at other time, especially over royalties, and a tad defensively too, from time to time.

The energy elites in Calgary are used to being “The Loop” not merely in the loop. The Calgary energy elite angst is made more complicated as they wonder and weigh what will be their future influence in Alberta politics if they go RED and Ed wins a comfortable majority particularly because of a strong “EDmonton” showing. The Edmonton outcome is still uncertain but that does not make the Calgary power-broker-voter decision any easier as they try and figure out how they can stay “in control and in charge of Alberta.”

In any event, sometime tomorrow night we will know the outcomes of this election. There will be many different outcomes depending on your perspectives and aspirations for the province - and your place in it. By Tuesday, the past will just be the past and Alberta will be moving on in one way or another, in one direction or another and with a new government with a new mandate.

I just hope the election results are clear and conclusive and not vague and variable. If the latter happens we will waste a lot more of our precious time fumbling around trying to get our political act together trying to get our future directions and destinations defined, designed and delivered. We have already lollygagged for 8 years at the end of Ralph’s World.” Alberta can’t afford 2 or 3 more years of wondering, wandering and squandering our future opportunities and potential.