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Saturday, April 01, 2006

A short goodbye?

From the Globe's Website this morning:

Everyone knew Alberta Premier Ralph Klein was in trouble heading into Friday's mandatory leadership review, but few expected the dramatic and embarrassing rebuke he was eventually handed by the political party he has firmly led since 1992.

"He was shocked and, I daresay, a little hurt," Marisa Etmanski, Premier Klein's spokeswoman, said about his reaction to a secret-ballot vote that showed he had only received 55 per cent support for his leadership from Progressive Conservative party delegates.

Yes, you read that correctly: 55 per cent support. It's starting to look like that loooooong goodbye Klein was planning won't be so long after all.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on April 1, 2006 in Canadian Provincial Politics | Permalink


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Klein has had his day. Now he should pack up and move on. His repayment of Alberta's debt was an incredible achievement for which he deserves the credit. It should not be overlooked in spite of his later antics. He will leave Alberta much better off than when he took office - not many Canadian leaders at any level can claim that.

If he goes into honorable retirement, Albertans should stop and thank him for what he has done for us.

Posted by: Scott | 2006-04-01 10:51:58 AM

Are any WS readers or reporters on the floor of the convention? Can we get any updates on the situation? The media's coverage has been scant.

Posted by: AD | 2006-04-01 1:02:45 PM

Hopefully, he will get out while the gettings good ! Thanks but good-bye!

Posted by: MarkAlta | 2006-04-01 2:23:26 PM

I personally wrote e mails to 30 MLAs telling them that no one is bigger than the party and it was time for a leadership vote. Classic example of power corupting a persons vision. A long time PC voter

Posted by: Barrie | 2006-04-01 2:45:43 PM

The Alberta Conservatives must get their act together very quickly, otherwise the Liebrals will get in - and you know what that means:

The Second National Energy Policy.

They will bring it back and destroy the economy like never before. Alberta MUST have a government that represents the people, not the rich aristocrats from Toronto.

Posted by: Scott | 2006-04-01 2:49:30 PM

I have a hard time believing that the Liberals will get in in Alberta. Another party on the right, sure. But not the liberals. That would be a disaster.

Posted by: RK | 2006-04-01 3:00:19 PM

For now I'm betting that Mr. Klein will take the opportunity to bow out this week, on a relatively short schedule. To the degree that I'm correct the race is now open, let the candidates begin.

The "55 Result" may yet turn out to be quite a good thing for the conservatives; it's not humiliating, but I think it's clear that Mr. Klein is being politely shown the door.

Perhaps I'm just because hopefully optimistic, in the sense that if he retires now, I will be able to go on supporting his legacy without reservation. If he does not, I think he's pushing his luck.

Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-04-01 3:03:05 PM

We don't need a simple change of leader, we need a wholesale re-examination of who we are as a province, our rights and responsibilities, our vision and values. I don't think it should be poll-driven, although whatever comes out will have to stand the test of the polls. Why not start with a vision of a well-run province, with healthy cities and clear demarcations of jurisdictions of all levels of government? Why not show other Canadians what a province with self-respect looks like?

Posted by: Halfwise | 2006-04-01 3:35:26 PM

One of the things you're going to continue to see during Mr. Klein's denoument are snide condescending references to his relationship with alcohol, typically by those addicted to big government (entirely ignorant of the knowledge that Winston Churchill saved civilization while drunk).

They, will, no doubt, barf up over and over again the mythical story of his visit to the men's shelter just before Christmas, in 2001. I followed that story, on the radio, on television, and in the newspapers, and the transmogrification it underwent in the first 48 hours was astounding.

The initial reports were quite innocuous, just the sort of thing we would expect from a populist premier with his history. Once those reports got out, everbody started spinning. Here's my 2001-12-17 entry from my web log, based on my observations of reports at that time...

"On Thursday, Premier Klein and a bunch of other slightly intoxicated men, who happened to be in a mens shelter, were having a friendly slightly boisterous discussion as we slightly intoxicated men often do, when one of the other slightly intoxicated men who happened to be asleep woke up and started bitching. Then a young man walked in and without bothering to reflect on the nature of the in-progress conversation took offence.

"After a time, or a few times anyway, Premier Klein distributed $70 "into their hands" (he said) or "onto the floor" (some ambulance chasers in the compassion industry later said). Premier Klein said he "went home thinking he had left on good terms with the men." On Friday, the interloper said "I wanted to punch him in the face." Apparently, the attitude of the bitchy newly-woken-one and the fighting-mad interloping-one had pretty much spoiled the friendliness of the slightly boisterous discussion the men were having.

"Always a man of honour, on Friday Premier Klein took the fall and apologized for the commotion, even though he apparently did not cause it. On Saturday, a bunch of over-estrogenized left-threaded wing-nuts came screaming out of the woodwork in the mass-market media, completely misreading what happened; worse, they were certifiably rude in completely discounting the Premier's version, even though he has no history of grand fabrication.

"On Monday the Globe and the Post noted that the rude screamers probably wouldn't affect normal Albertans much. Normal Albertans agreed."

Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-04-01 3:41:54 PM

I hope Manning takes over. He'll keep the Eastern wolves on their toes.

Posted by: underemployed buddha | 2006-04-01 3:48:41 PM

The ALP has been gaining strength in the past few elections - even going from 7 to 16 seats in the last election. Any and all measures must be taken to prevent that trend from continuing. Another right-wing party is a possibility but my fear is that it will drain power away from the Tories instead of the ALP. Only a rethink of Tory policy can work.

Even a minority ALP government is totally unacceptable. The homes, jobs, and futures of millions of Albertans are at stake. They must not be risked by those who take their orders from the rich people of Toronto.

Posted by: Scott | 2006-04-01 3:48:44 PM

Look, Scott, the danger is not the "rich people of Toronto"; to believe so is delusional and it endangers the success of your mission.

The danger is the home-grown rich champagne socialists, limousine liberals, and mastercard marxists, because they represent a net negative in the balance. At least the rich capitalists represent a net positive; they create wealth (or at least the opportunity for it).

I suspect that Alberta is indeed about to enter into the debate that Halfwise recommends above as appropriate. Were going to have everyone from the separatists to the capitalists to the socialists to the communists in play. This is democracy in action, sort of like that game show, Your Money or Your Life.

Can anyone recommend some good noise-cancelling headphones ;-?

Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-04-01 4:05:17 PM

Does anybody have any first/second/twelfth-hand accounts of Ralph's speech? The media are unanamously calling it "pleading" in tone. If accurate, its probably as big a reason for the astoundingly small support as anything. Klein looked weak, and that's the one quality no politician worth his salt would dare to look, even to his own party.

Posted by: Feynman and Coulter's Love Child | 2006-04-01 4:28:10 PM

Virtuvius: from where do you think those people get their ideas? Answer: Toronto. In their minds, Alberta has been too much of a rogue. Bringing Alberta back into the federal fold would help with 'national unity' and all that jazz. In their view, it's just being patriotic. Worse, they'll say how

They don't see the danger that presents for Alberta. If that happened, we would be exposed to Toronto's limitless greed. When all of Alberta's oil wealth is in their back pocket, no one could stop them. They get too much as it is, using our money to bankroll their privileged lifestyle. Alberta MUST present a hard line against the federals and their corporate masters at all times, never giving up under any circumstances. An act authorizing a referendum on secession should be ready to go as a last resort.

I lived through one NEP, and I would rather secede than face a second. If that means doing away with a potential 5th Column of federal sympathizers, SO BE IT!

Posted by: Scott | 2006-04-01 4:41:34 PM

Silly me, I didn't know Marx was from Toronto.

Unless I'm mistaken in not investing long on tin-foil hat futures, I suspect, Scott, that your enemies are closer to home than you think.

When you shoot long on a short-range target, it called missing.

Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-04-01 4:52:08 PM

The upcoming leadership race has the potential to be a very interesting time in Alberta and probably by extension, an interesting time in federal-provincial relations.

Pretty much all bets are off in terms of the next conservative leader. Dinning's touted "hand off" into this position may well not be on. This is very similar to the Martin/Chretien situation but thus far - it had/has not become so openly hostile. Dinning has had his eye on this position for years but it would seem to be far from a given now.

During his speech, Klein put out five priorities he would work on - the first being that he would promote better relations with the Federal Gov't. Go Figure!!!! This one alone probably cost him pretty big in terms of support.

Times have changed. Klein had the opportunity to go out on a real high but had chosen the pathway himself that led to the 55% support. Mandating a two year wait period before the next leadership convention and forcing his cabinent ministers seeking the position to resign their cabinet portfolios - basically forthwith - was a huge error.

It was a little sad to see the defeated body language - the lack lustre tone in his voice - the lack of "fire-in-his-belly" that he has become noted for - and the pleading tone when asking for continued support. I wasn't at the meeting but have been seeing clips as they come on the MSN. Make no mistake, he was/is very well liked throughout the province.

Manning has announced that yes, he is interested in the job and is assessing his options.

Mark Norris in Edmonton (defeated conservative in last provincial election) has backers who recently announnced a very creative financing plan whereby he can be paid 10k per month until the leadership has been settled. The dollars here are significant and he (& by inference they), are the ones who have apparently been musing about things like firewalls. There is a very big Edmonton versus Calgary emotion at play on this one now; as well as well an Urban vs Rural emotion.

Lyle Oberg's (Infra-
structure Minister) boot from not only the current cabinet but from the caucus as well has stirred up a whole lot of emotions - both inside the converted Tory Blue but also others as well. Oberg had the audacity to be outspoken in terms of Klein's two year moratorium on the leadership convention and tell his constituents to "vote their conscience" this week-end (i.e he did not unconditionally support Klein).

There are a whole lot of recent newcomers to the province that will be elegible to vote for the new leader if they take out a conservative membership.

Link Byfield et al are having a Democracy in Action symposium in the fall. Manning and others will be speaking at this, and one can bet it will not be about how to build Federalism as it exists today (Liberal Style).

Highly unlikely that the Conservative party in AB will be defeated in the next election - but hey, this one is going to be wide open.

My hope is the most all of people eligible to vote in Alberta will take out a membership in the Conservatvie party (if they are not already committed solidly to one of the others) so they can have a vote on who the next premier of the province is very likely to be.

The next Conservative leader is going to play a very big role, not only in provincial politics but I'm betting in Federal politics as well. For the first time, Albertans are going to have the opportunity for a direct say in who the person will be in the leadership at a time in history when Canadian political/economic stakes are very high and getting higher.

Posted by: calgary clipper | 2006-04-01 7:59:15 PM

Preston Manning has always impressed me but when I lived down east most everyone thought he was a tard because of This Hour has 22 Minutes and Air Farce. CC is correct in that Alberta will play probably its largest role in confedration over the next decade so the next leader of the Tories will be extremely powerful.

The other attraction to Manning is just thinking about all the discomfort the socialists would be experiencing with Harper in Ottawa and Preston running Alberta. Talk about scary.

As for Premier Klein I would like to thank him for everything that he has done for me and my family. He deserves as much credit as does anyone else I can think of. I came here in 98 and oil was around 10-14 per barrel and there was plenty of work. Now it is just crazy, anyone looking to make some good coin over the next 10 years Alberta is where it's at.

Thanks Ralph Klein and Rod Love!

How does someone purchase a membership for the Alberta Conservative party? Anyone got a link?

Posted by: Lemmytowner | 2006-04-01 9:12:02 PM

Politics in Alberta are getting interesting for the first time in a long time. I might actually have a hard time deciding who to put my support behind.

Posted by: C Foss | 2006-04-01 10:41:59 PM

C Foss: it's easy. Support the people of Alberta by throwing the Liebral Party out. Don't give the bastards so much as an inch! They work exclusively for the rich of Ontario, who will drain our wealth for their personal benefit. By voting Tory, Alberta's wealth will be properly managed because federal demands will be effectively countered. We have it good here and it would be foolish to throw it all away.

Posted by: Scott | 2006-04-01 11:07:58 PM

I agree Foss, this is going to be interesting. While Scott in busy worrying about Toronto, even though the real power-base in Alberta is in Houston, this puppy's wide open right now. It could be anything from Mr. Morton to Mr. Dinning to... who knows? We shall see.

Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-04-01 11:17:15 PM

All the people in Houston want is to make a little money, and so far the relationships works well for all concerned. Alberta, Canada and the Texans all make good money off the oil. Nothing should be done to upset this, and the most likely candidate to do that has been the federals. Fortunately NAFTA keeps them at bay, but I'd rest well at night knowing they never gave the idea of raiding Alberta again a second thought. They did it before in 1980 and remain unrepentant about the damage they caused. There must never be a second time. Texas's worst intentions are mild and tame compared to Canada's.

Posted by: Scott | 2006-04-01 11:37:55 PM

Is this good news after all?

Much as I would like to beleive that Klien's push comes from the exasperation of the true blues, isn't it more likely a matter of the limosine liberals of the party pressing their advantage?

Posted by: pete e | 2006-04-02 1:17:11 AM

Pete - on balance, yes I believe that this is good news. Since when has personal ambition/opportunistic timing stopped being a factor in why people go into politics. It is inevitable and is not necessarily a totally bad thing. We just have to sort through it.

I'm not an "insider" Blue but apparently there were 15 Blue delegates from each AB riding as well as 15 federal Blue from each riding who did the voting (hmmmm... I can't say that I understand this one). At any rate, the vote was probably done by very insider committed Blue's and only 55% of these people supported Klein. I doubt it was really about Klein but rather about the "when" of the leadership convention.

There may well be a tactical move now to rush the timing in order to advantage one or a few "hand off" candidates - i.e. give newcomers little chance at to garner voting support (would Rod Love promote something like this as it seems he has/been is supporting Dinning :) This would also be a mistake, I think.

I believe this was not about Klein himself but rather the 2 year limit he imposed along with trying to control, in a draconian way, how the new leadership candidates could organize. A race that is on but is not on is totally untenable.

It strikes me that there must have been a lot of unspoken dissent within - not the least of which probably had something to do with just how much power Klein's wife has seemed to be accumlating combined with a lot of far out decisions like Ralphbucks. Also, the power behind the throne control of Klein from non-elected person(s) should have been a problem if it wasn't.

Apparently there was an influence of the so called young conservatives as well. The power of the older component of the Baby Boomer generation (along with their culture/values) is coming to an end and will no doubt be a factor in the AB election - just as it was in the last federal election.

The generation upcoming moves at a far quicker pace, they get restless and impatient more easily, and are less cognizant of the older way of "paying one's dues". They are likely to be more open, more informed, much more high techie, more confontational, and base their decisions on results/capabilities of their leaders rather than being obsessed with political correctness and doing the "right kind of social schmoozing" to get ahead. This generation has its own, distinct set of values/culture and it is rather different from the older Boomers - and I see this as a good thing.

It is a time for all Albertans to become engaged and use their vote.

Posted by: calgary clipper | 2006-04-02 9:58:45 AM

I was at the convention, and have to say that Ralph was a sorry sight. Most attendees that I talked to were expecting him to announce in his speech Friday night a definitive date for a leadership convention. That would have garnered him his usual 90+ percentage against holding a leadership vote. Instead we heard a plaintiff, uncertain man clinging to power for no justifiable reason. He is fortunate that the vote results were not the other way around.

The voting delegates included all previous MLAs, and the few that I talked to were quite consistent and firm in stating that the good of the party supercedes that of any individual member, Ralph included. An 18-month leadership contest would risk inflicting permanent damage to the unity of the party. Unfortunately, I believe that there is a definite possibility that Ralph is in a frame of mind now where a combination of paranoia and stubborness may cause him to cling to power.

Danny William's speech was just bizarre. Here was a premier of another province, invited by the PC Party of Alberta, lecturing us on the results of a democratic vote held at the behest of our party constitution. Inappropriate, un-called for, and highly unprofessional. F*ck you, Mr Premier.

The hospitality suites after the official procedings were where the real action was. Norris and Hancock rented small nightclubs with live music. The small venues made the crowds appear larger, but were quite claustrophobic. Both had polite, non-descript crowds.

Dinning took over a retail arts venue a few blocks north of the convention centre. Three floors of small art galleries surrounding an open atrium with a band in the middle. A who's=who of Calgary gentry were there, though few appeared to be convention members, and were thus not obviously party members. Very nice scotch tasting suite on the top floor, though. All that was missing were Cuban cigar samples.

Oberg's suite quite stole the show, in my opinion. He commandeered the entire observation deck of the Calgary tower Saturday night, with the obligatory live band and abundant food. That place has such a strong nostalgia element for just about any Albertan over 40, as well as definite cool factor for those younger, that it appeared to be a hit.

Oberg and Dinning's suites each had a definite buzz of excitement around them that was lacking somewhat from the others.

All in all, an exhausting, highly emotional weekend for everyone.

Posted by: Party Member | 2006-04-02 7:42:47 PM

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