Graham Thomson is speculating on a number of critical uncertainties in Alberta politics. The pressures of leadership in all spheres of influence are enormous and especially in politics. Speculation on internal tensions for replacing party leaders at so close to an election with all the planning and pressures that entails is understandable for inside-baseball partisans but meaningless to the ordinary citizen.
In my mind Stelmach deserves to lead the PCs into another election and then decide himself what his future is. The same is true for Swann, Mason and Smith. Only Mason and Stelmach have faced the trial-by-fire reality of a general election and we should see the election results of the other two leaders before we start throwing them under the bus as in Swann or deifying them as in Smith.
Then there is the new wild card, the Alberta Party. They are just starting to select their leader and will be selling memberships and raising public profile in the process culminating at a leadership convention in Edmonton at the end of May. The yearning for a change in the political culture of Albertans is such that anything can happen...and in politics, it usually does. So the smart money should not reject any political scenario, but don't fixate on any one possibility either.
The other dynamic is the general dysfunction and discontent amongst politicians and partisans. This started a year ago with the PC-WAP floor crossers. We then say Dave Taylor bolt from the Alberta Liberals to sit as an independent to Kent Hehr running for Mayor of Calgary as an option to provincial politics. That was followed by the ejection of Boutilier from the PC Caucus and more recently the PC caucus expulsion of Raj Sherman from their ranks. Add in the impact on party organizations due to 4 new seats in plan and the real possibility of a number of potential MLAs considering retirement from politics.
The range of paradoxes, ambiguity, complexity and even chaos outcomes can't all be discounted when there is a hunger for change and some fear what the future holds in the citizenry. Change is in the air. That is the only certainty I can see. That "change in the air" sense was there in the last provincial election too and it resulted in a larger Stelmach majority instead of a change of government. That result was because Albertans were hoping the Stelmach government would change so they did not have to change the government. Stelmach has adapted and changed but not in ways that are in alignment to the new realities Albertans are seeing, facing and fearing. And that may make all the difference.