The Edmonton Journal, semi-official organ of the Stelmach government, was finally out this morning with the regime’s position on the cashiering of Ft. McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Guy Boutilier.
Granted, it’s been two days since the deed was done, but as in the bad old days of Pravda (Truth) and Izvestia (News)*, sometimes it takes the regime’s tame journalists a little time to get the story straight that they’re about to stick to. (And stick to it they will – at least until it changes.)
Plus, in fairness, there was that storm Saturday night that shut down the Journal’s pressroom for a few hours and, in so doing, knocked out an entire day’s edition. (That the Journal’s managers cancelled printing of the daily newspaper’s Sunday edition because of the blackout is a real sign of the times; recognition, perhaps, of the role print newspapers actually play nowadays in the daily news cycle. Why pay the overtime to get the rag out? Yeah, they had a bazillion hits on their Web site. Too bad no one can figure out a way to make money from an Internet edition!)
According to a column on the front page of today’s Journal, it turns out that the Conservative caucus is simply delighted with Mr. Stelmach’s unilateral decision to skid Mr. Boutilier for daring to question the actions of Health Minister Ron Liepert, at least insofar as they related to plans to build a continuing-care facility in his Fort Mac riding.
What’s more, according to the Journal, Mr. Boutilier “has been slowly digging his own political grave over the past year.” He’s been “pouty” because he was dropped from cabinet. (Bet he wasn’t the only one!) “He was acting like a prima donna.” “He was distracted by a new part-time job teaching at the University of Alberta.” And, oh yeah, he also sounds “plaintive” and hopes to be readmitted to the caucus.
And one other thing: According to the column, Conservative caucus members can be as critical of the premier and cabinet as they like! As long as they, you know, only do it in private where the public can’t hear. What could be more reasonable than that?
OK, that’s the (semi) official line. The sources for this trashing of Mr. Boutilier are members of the Conservative caucus, courageously speaking only anonymously for fear of … oh, I don’t know. For fear of having to answer for what they said?
Oddly enough, these anonymous MLA comments sound very much like milder versions of the comments left on my blog last Saturday that I, nervous Nellie that I am, prudently decided to censor. Hmmm…
Some parts of this column are probably true, at least insofar as they accurately reflect views actually held by Stelmach loyalists in caucus. Other parts are questionable. The suggestion that Mr. Boutilier plaintively awaits readmission to caucus, for example, strikes me as far-fetched. As Liberal blogger Dave Cournoyer said in an excellent post that provides interesting background on the situation, “I have a difficult time believing that Boutilier didn’t know exactly what he was doing.”
There was no noticeable discussion in the Journal’s coverage about the fissures in Mr. Stelmach’s caucus, or the merits of Mr. Boutilier’s comments about health care. So everyone will now go back to sleep, presumably, until the next time our premier lurches from indecision to arbitrariness.
* You know what they used to say in the Soviet Union – “v Pravde net izvestiy, v Izvestiyakh net pravdy!” (There’s no news in the Truth and there’s no truth in the News.) Not much has changed since then except the names. Sorry about that Soviet analogy.