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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

IS KLEIN STILL BITTER-OR JUST STATING FACTS?

Former Premier Klein is on record with a Canadian Press story today saying if Premier Stelmach gets less than 70% support at the November 7 Progressive Conservative Party Leadership confidence review he should resign as Party Leader and therefor Premier.

If Premier Stelmach lacks the confidence of the PC Party delegates, Alberta could be into another leadership race early in the new year. I have commented on this in other posts that you can read here and here.

Mr. Klein was summarily dismissed by the PC Party in April 2006 when he lingered too long and the party faithful decided for him it was time for a change. That was after he he served leader of the party and the Province for 13 years. Klein may still be bitter but that is beside the point.

There are no laws or rules that dictate this situation but there are past experiences that set conventions. The conventional wisdom was set by Prime Minister Joe Clark in 1980. He was Prime Minister of Canada, leading a minority government that lost the confidence of the House on a Budget vote.

Clark put his party leadership on the line at a convention and got just under 70% support. He said that was not good enough and he resigned a party leader triggering a leadership review - which he lost to Brian Mulroney. Mulroney had been meeting secretly with supporters for months planning a coupe and a run at the party leadership just in such an event.

Conventional wisdom says anything under 70% support from party delegates and Premier Stelmach will need to resign and test his leadership with the entire PC Party and the people of Alberta with the one person - one vote leadership system the PC Party uses. Between 70 and 80% he will be seen as the walking wounded and can survive but with difficulty. Over 80% and he is safe.

The anxiety level is high going into the November 7th AGM confidence vote that some supporting MLAs to Premier Stelmach even suggested a show of hands confidence vote and not a secret ballot. Not a smart thing to do and it was quickly kiboshed.

The PC AGM vote is only one event creating growing uncertainty in the politics of the province. The first was the recent and devastating results of the Calgary Glenmore by-election. the next significant event will be the October 17th results of the Wildrose Alliance leadership. It will be important for three reasons, who wins, by what margin and what is the total voter turnout.

Then we have the PC AGM Leadership confidence vote on November 7th. The next serious leadership issue facing Premier Stelmach will be the Alberta consequences to the Copenhagen meetings on the world's reaction to climate change stating December 7th. The Alberta oilsands will be in the cross hairs of those global discussions and the consequences to Alberta will be a significant test of Premier Stelmach's leadership.

I have no prediction or insight as to what will happen in any of these pending events but Albertans better be aware of them because there is an incredible uncertainty about being Albertan these days.