Friday, May 15, 2009

Deputy Premier Stevens Throws in the Towel

The Hon Ron Stevens, Deputy Premier of Alberta call it quits - IMMEDIATELY! There was lots of speculation that Ron would retire from politics and head to the Bench sometime this year but not right now, before the Spring Session is over. There is so much going on and so much to do it is strange that he seems to be bolting out of the building. The timing and decisiveness of the decision to leave so abruptly is a big surprise.

There is going to have to be a by-election in Calgary pretty soon, I expect in the fall of 2009. It will be seen as a test of confidence in the Stelmach government by the Calgary elites. It will be interesting to see what happens but mid term by-elections are hardly ever good news for governments, especially those in a recession.

The Stelmach government has relationship problems in the energy tycoons in the Calgary Towers but I am not so sure that is also true of the guy on the street in Calgary. As Deputy Premier Ron Stevens would be the point guy on the ground to bridge any information and perception gaps and quell any angst in the Towers.

There is plenty of Tower Angst and the denizens of the Towers are equating the Jan 1/09 royalty regime as equivalent to the NEP. That is hyperbole and hypocrisy but the stuff that Stevens would have to deal with. Here is a link to a piece my business partner Satya Das did in rebuttal to a Calgary Herald columnist on the Tower Angst.

Will Premier Stelmach appoint another Deputy Premier out of Calgary, if so who. The Calgary crew in the Stelmach Cabinet is short on experience, with Ron Liepert now looking like the senior Calgary guy. My guess is the Premier will not appoint a Deputy Premier, from Calgary or elsewhere.

The more interesting political concern is with Steven's immediate departure Stelmach can do a Cabinet shuffle without looking like he is intentionally throwing anybody under the bus...something he will likely do anyway.

Stelmach needs to make changes and regroup. The government is strategically incoherent and becoming top down, centralized, thin skinned and insular. This is happening just at a time when they ought to be bold, looking outward, forward and listening to citizens.